The Beat, Now Across The Street

Newsweek’s Holly Bailey writes the magazine’s obituary for the James S. Brady Briefing Room.

“It’s probably the dream of every president: to banish the press corps from the West Wing. This week the Bush team will do it for real, kicking reporters out of the White House for a long-overdue rehab of the press briefing room and workspace. Immortalized on TV and in movies as the glamorous place to be, the briefing room is, in reality, a dump with broken chairs, torn carpeting, dangling wires and a musty smell that’s especially pungent in the summertime. One of the area’s two bathrooms died long ago, and the air conditioner barely works. Recent rains seeped into the basement press area, flooding the C-Span booth and prompting reporters to duct-tape massive cracks that formed along the walls. “There are stains you don’t want to know the origin of,” says the Houston Chronicle’s Julie Mason.”

Yes, tomorrow, reporters say good-bye to the James S. Brady briefing room and all of its fire code violations and asbestos, as it undergoes its “nine month” (read: one year, at least) renovation. Reporters are being shuffled over to Jackson Place, across from the White House’s NW gate and which, by all initial accounts, is quite nice.

    “Now taking bets,” longtime CBS News reporter Mark Knoller wrote in an e-mail to members of the White House Correspondents Association. “We’ll be back in the press room by a) the mid-term elections, b) mission accomplished in Iraq, c) the 2008 elections, d) the next millennium or e) never.”

The WSJ’s John McKinnon writes up a similar and unearths this interesting nugget:

    Next up: a renovation of the briefing room, likely with a video wall that could display everything from “flags waving in the breeze [to] detailed charts and graphs,” according to a senior White House official working on the project. For TV viewers, the video feed could be the sole on-screen image, or could share the space with the speaker.

Helen Thomas is gonna love that.