Prez Press Room Retrofit Aiming at Message Control?

Technological advances in a refurbished White House Press Room open the door (or wall, actually) to daily presidential video news releases, says Professor Robert Thompson of Syracuse University. "The equivalent of press releases could go out without interruption or analysis," Thompson said of the new "video wall" that likely will be added to the press room when it reopens next year. The Wall Street Journal reports that the new press room will take its design from Defense Department and political convention displays and quotes a senior White House official as saying that the room will have the capability to include everything "from flags waving in the breeze [to] detailed charts and graphs." The White House has also described the refurbishing as a safety matter in a cramped space, with President Bush playing with a line from his predecessor by telling reporters, "We felt your pain." But S. Robert Lichter of the Center for Media and Public Afffairs points out, "These new toys will aid the administration in setting the agenda by giving them more time, more video evidence, and a larger profile."