James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

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President George W. Bush participates in the unveiling of the new Brady Briefing Room on July 11, 2007. New Brady Briefing Room.jpg
President George W. Bush participates in the unveiling of the new Brady Briefing Room on July 11, 2007.
Map of the West Wing with James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in blue White House West Wing - 1st Floor with the Press Briefing Room highlighted.jpg
Map of the West Wing with James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in blue

The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room is a small theater in the West Wing of the White House where the White House press secretary gives briefings to the news media and the president of the United States sometimes addresses the press and the nation. It is located between the workspace assigned to the White House press corps and the office of the press secretary.



The first presidential press conference was held on March 15, 1913 in the Oval Office, during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. Subsequently, through to 1969, communications from the president and general press news conferences took place in various locations, including the Indian Treaty Room, the State Department auditorium, and the White House East Room. [1]

In 1969, to accommodate the growing number of reporters assigned to the White House, President Richard Nixon had the indoor swimming pool, which had been installed by the March of Dimes for Franklin D. Roosevelt, covered and turned into press offices and a lounge that could double as a briefing room. [2] [3]

In 2000, the room was renamed the "James S. Brady Press Briefing Room" in honor of James Brady, the press secretary who had been shot and permanently disabled during an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. [3]


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin take questions in 2019 Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Mnuchin Speak to Reporters (48714042368).jpg
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin take questions in 2019

In December 2005, the White House announced the intention to renovate the aging Press Briefing Room and cramped press corps offices. [4] On August 2, 2006, the final briefing was held, and President George W. Bush hosted several previous press secretaries at a closing ceremony and there was some hesitation and concern about whether the press would be allowed to return to the White House. [5] [6] In the interim, the White House Conference Center was used as temporary location for press conferences.[ citation needed ]

President Bush reopened the renovated room in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on the morning of July 11, 2007. He held his first formal press conference in the new briefing room the next day, following the release of a report on the progress of the Iraqi government. [7] The modernization cost nearly US$8.5 million. Of that sum, $2.5 million was funded by the media, and the remainder was funded by tax dollars. Each correspondent's seat was priced at $1,500. Beneath the current press room lies the former White House swimming pool that has since become a computer server room. [8] [9]

The most noticeable change to the briefing room was a different backdrop for the press conferences, which now featured a softly lit screen flanked by mock columns, instead of the previous blue curtain. The new podium contained video screens for teleconferencing and multimedia displays. For safety reasons, the trapdoor which provided access to the old swimming pool (a popular stop for visitors) was replaced by a discreet staircase.[ citation needed ]

Despite complaints about the previous briefing room's lack of space, the current briefing room has only one more press seat than it did prior to renovation.[ citation needed ]

Seating chart

The seating assignments are organized by the White House Correspondents' Association, not by the White House press staff. [10]

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  1. "Presidential Press Conferences". whitehousehistory.org.
  2. Collins, Dan (August 2, 2006). "Bush, Media Bid Press Room Farewell". CBS News . Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  3. 1 2 Watson, Robert P. (2004). Life in the White House: A Social History of the First Family and the President's House. SUNY Press. p. 84. ISBN   9780791460986 via Google Books.
  4. Vande Hei, Jim (December 27, 2005). "White House Press Room To Be Closed For Makeover". The Washington Post . Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  5. Yellin, Jessica (August 2, 2006). "White House Press Briefing Room Redo". ABC News . Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  6. Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (August 3, 2006). "White House Evicts Press, Temporarily. No, Really". The New York Times . Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  7. Spetalnick, Matt (July 11, 2007). "Bush to Press: Welcome back. No questions, Please". Reuters . Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  8. Patterson, Bradley Hawkes (2002). The White House Staff: Inside the West Wing and Beyond. Brookings Institution Press. p. 144. ISBN   9780815769514.
  9. Dean, John W. (2005). Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush . Hardie Grant Publishing. p. 69. ISBN   9781740662222.
  10. Shafer, Jack (July 21, 2010). "Blow Up the White House Briefing Room". Slate . Retrieved July 4, 2012.

Coordinates: 38°53′52″N77°02′08″W / 38.89771°N 77.03567°W / 38.89771; -77.03567