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AP takes over coveted White House briefing room seat

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The front row, center seat has been vacant since Helen Thomas retired under fire in June
  • Fox News, Bloomberg and NPR were all vying for the seat
  • Fox will move into the previous front row seat held by the AP

(CNN) -- The Associated Press has won the political version of musical chairs, beating out Fox News, Bloomberg and National Public Radio to win the coveted front row, center seat of the White House briefing room left vacant by Helen Thomas' retirement in June, the White House Correspondents Association announced Sunday.

The change will take effect Monday, the association said.

Fox effectively came in second in the battle -- the subject of weeks of speculation on such Inside the Beltway blogs as Politico. The network will move from its current second-row position into AP's former front row seat, while NPR will now move into the second row next to Bloomberg vacated by Fox.

The press association's board described a "difficult decision" in making the changes, saying Fox, Bloomberg and NPR all "made compelling cases" to move to the front row.

"But the board ultimately was persuaded by Fox's length of service and commitment to the White House television pool," the association said.

Longtime Hearst columnist Thomas -- who retired in June under fire for controversial comments she made about Israelis and Jews -- was the longest-serving White House journalist, reporting on administrations since 1960, when she began covering then-President-elect John F. Kennedy and his family.

CNN has had a front-row seat in the briefing room since 2007.