Members of the American press are expecting some significant changes once Donald Trump takes over the White House. Members of Trump's transitional team have hinted that the new administration may decide to move the White House press room to another section of the building complex.
Speaking on ABC's This Week on 15 January, incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus confirmed that there have been discussions to move the press centre from its current position in the West Wing, to a bigger room in the Old Executive Office Building, which is part of the White House complex.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence said that no decision has been made as of yet, but explained that it was being considered in order to host more reporters. "The interest of the team is to make sure that we accommodate the broadest number of people who are interested and media from around the country and around the world," he said on CBS' Face The Nation.
Questions regarding the shift were first reported by Esquire, which said that three officials from the Trump transition team hinted at a relocation.
"There's been so much interest in covering a President Donald Trump," Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer said. "A question is: Is a room that has forty-nine seats adequate? When we had that press conference the other day, we had thousands of requests, and we capped it at four hundred. Is there an opportunity to potentially allow more members of the media to be part of this? That's something we're discussing."
However, another official hinted that there was a more pointed motivation behind the plan, hinting at Trump's dislike for the national press. "They are the opposition party," the official said. "I want 'em out of the building. We are taking back the press room."
The current briefing room is extremely close to the Oval Office, allowing reporters easy access to prime sources. A move would work to create further divide between the press and the incoming president, who has time and again lashed out at various news outlets for their coverage of his campaign.
The White House Correspondents' Association released a statement objecting to "any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps".
President of the association, Jeff Mason, met with Spicerto discuss the situation, during which he said that the WHCA "would view it as unacceptable if the incoming administration sought to move White House reporters out of the press work space behind the press briefing room".
"Access in the West Wing to senior administration officials, including the press secretary, is critical to transparency and to journalists' ability to do their jobs," Mason said.
The press room, situated between the presidential residence and the West Wing is made up of the main briefing room along with space containing work stations and broadcast booths.
Tensions between the two sides took a turn for the worse after Trump refused to answer questions from a CNN reporter at his New York press conference last week. The president-elect accused the reporter's news outlet of airing "fake news" in regards to his alleged role in Russia's interference in the US election.