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The Skype Seats: How Sean Spicer Is Shaking Up the White House Press Briefing

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has opened up the daily White House press briefing to journalists living outside of Washington D.C. by allowing them to participate via Skype.

“This will open up the briefing to journalists who live beyond 50 miles of the Washington D.C. area and to organizations that don’t currently have a hard pass,” Spicer explained to reporters in January. He said that the Trump administration wanted to allow local reporters, talk radio hosts, or bloggers to participate.

“I think this can benefit us all by giving a platform to voices that are not necessarily based here in the beltway,” he said.

On Wednesday, Spicer took video questions from two local network reporters — Kim Kalunian from WPRI in Rhode Island and Natalie Herbick from FOX8 Cleveland. He also took a question from Jeff Jobe of Jobe Publishing in Kentucky.

By opening up the briefing, Spicer allows regional interests to be represented.

“How soon or when will the rules restricting coal mining, coal burning and coal exports be reversed?” asked Jobe, specifically asking about the economic future of Appalachia.

Kalunian asked Spicer to respond to the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island who called their capitol city “a sanctuary city.”

Hebraic asked Spicer how Trump planned to a fulfill his promise to Cleveland, to make their city “the economic envy of the world.”

Democrats were shocked when one of Spicer’s selections was from talk radio’s Lars Larson of the Lars Larson Show.

“Commander Spicer, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for your service to America,” he said, referring to Spicer’s military service before asking his question.

But the respect for Spicer’s military service was lost on Obama’s former spokesperson Ben Rhodes, who himself once mockied Washington D.C. reporters as “literally know nothing.”

“Wonder what conservatives would have said if @jearnest44 had a Skype question from a liberal radio host who called him ‘Commander Earnest,’” he snarked on Twitter, highlighting the video.

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