An AllSides analysis found the new White House briefing room seating chart heavily favors media outlets on the political left. This was also the case under former President Donald Trump and prior administrations.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) creates seating assignments for reporters who attend daily White House press briefings and news conferences. These seating arrangements often change from administration to administration, prompting questions about fairness and objectivity of the briefing room and coverage of the White House.
AllSides mapped the newest press room seating chart by the organization’s media bias rating and compared it to past seating charts dating as far back as the first Obama administration. AllSides rates media bias using a patented and proprietary system and surveys that reflect the average judgment of Americans across the political spectrum, not one group or individual.
President Biden’s White House Press Briefing Room is dominated by news sources AllSides rates as Left and Lean Left.
The overall political make-up of the press room is nearly identical to what it was under President Trump, although conservative outlets did gain seats during Trump’s tenure.
Split seats are shared by multiple organizations. The seat with a gradient color (AP) indicates that AllSides has multiple ratings for that source. AllSides ratings are based on online written content, not TV or radio content.
Media Bias of the White House Press Room
Out of a total of 65 media organizations in the White House briefing room, only nine have a Lean Right or Right media bias rating; 43% are rated as Left or Lean Left, 29% are rated as Center, 16% are rated as Lean Right or Right, and 13% are unrated or unaffiliated (such as groups like the foreign press pool and regional reporters).
Rarely do the first few rows of the chart change, but other adjustments can be made. This year, the WHCA added 14 first-time organizations. In 2017, during President Trump’s Administration, some outlets AllSides rates on the right were given seats — Newsmax (Lean Right), One America News (OAN) (Right), and the Daily Mail (Right). OAN is no longer awarded a seat in the 2022 briefing room.
If you’ve ever watched a White House Press Briefing, you may have noticed some reporters sitting comfortably while others are packed tightly against the back and side walls. Which reporters get a seat and which are cast to the aisles is determined according to the seating chart, which changes every few years. Prior to this recently-released version, the seating chart was last changed in 2017.
WHCA is an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the president. As described in a recent Washington Post article by Paul Farhi, the new seating rearrangement can be considered simply a tactical move made by the WHCA to adjust to the times. However, which media outlets are given a seat can also be a symbol of the group's perceived importance.
How the Press Room Bias Has Changed Over The Years
AllSides mapped WHCA’s seating charts from 2017, 2015, and 2009 to reveal how press room media bias has changed from administration to administration. Left outlets have always dominated, peaking in 2015 under Obama, but the share of right outlets has slightly increased over the years.
(Note that in the past, some media outlets had different AllSides Media Bias Ratings™. For instance, in 2017, Newsweek was rated Left (now Center) and CNN was rated Center (now Left). For these outlets and some others, the bias of their content significantly shifted over time, triggering a change in ratings. For simplicity’s sake, we applied 2022 media bias ratings to the charts showing the makeup of past press briefing rooms.)
More About The Chart
The media bias of news outlets is rated by AllSides using a patented and proprietary system and surveys that reflect the average judgment of Americans across the political spectrum — not just journalists or the research team who have biases of their own.
A split circle indicates that the seat is shared between multiple organizations. A seat with a gradient color (AP) indicates that AllSides has multiple ratings for that source. We rate AP Politics and Fact Check (Lean Left) separately from AP’s global news (Center).
In order to give a better overall impression of the political leanings in the White House press room, we included ratings for some TV and radio sources for which AllSides has only rated the online content or has not rated thoroughly, such as Cheddar News and Blade.
We verified our initial ratings for these outlets by looking at other bias rating organizations, such as Ad Fontes and Media Bias/Fact Check, even when they don’t distinguish between medium (TV, radio/podcast, online written) or type (news and opinion). When there was general agreement, we added those ratings in the chart as well.
It’s important to make the political leanings of media outlets in the White House press room transparent. The bias of news outlets that are on the front lines of reporting top news from the White House will affect which questions they ask and how they filter information.
This piece was written and reviewed by multipartisan AllSides Staff — Aidanne DePoy (Left), Henry Brechter (Center), Julie Mastrine (Lean Right), and John Gable (Lean Right). The graphic was created by Aidanne DePoy.