Renaming anything in Washington — a town of monuments and dedications — can be dicey. Remember the fight over Reagan Airport?
A recent name change is ruffling feathers over at the Pentagon, where a hallway known for some 40 years as “Correspondents Corridor” has been rechristened “OSD Public Affairs,” as in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Veteran TIME national security reporter Mark Thompson has the story of the switcheroo, in which the Pentagon brass, in the process of remodeling the area where reporters have their desks, renamed the hallway.
Thompson sees the symbolism of a new era in the name-change. “Perhaps it’s only fitting that the corridor be renamed in honor of the spinners instead of the spun,” he writes.
And he quotes Melvin Laird, the former Defense secretary who first dedicated the hallway — where newspaper clippings and other fourth-estate memorabilia are displayed — in honor of journalists. “I think it’s really a disaster – I don’t understand why they would do that. Public relations is not the reason we set that corridor up. We set it up to honor reporters.”
Perhaps if Pentagon brass had wanted to put journalists in their place, it could have gone for something subtler, like “Hacks’ Alley.”