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​Reporters start warming the White House Skype seats

Four journalists ask inaugural questions from the cyber seats designated for Washington outsiders during daily press briefings.

Natalie Herbick of Fox 8 in Cleveland, Ohio, is the second reporter to ask a question from a so-called Skype seat at Wednesday's White House press briefing.
Fox 8 Cleveland/Screenshot by CNET

The Skype seats have spoken.

The White House came through with its promise to let reporters from outside the Washington Beltway ask questions at daily press briefings via Skype, aka, #SkypeSeats.

Kimberly Kalunian, a reporter for WPRI 12 in Providence, Rhode Island, on Wednesday became the first to ask Press Secretary Sean Spicer a question via Skype. She was one of four reporters chosen to inaugurate the cyber seats. The other three were Natalie Herbick of Fox 8 in Cleveland, Ohio, radio host Lars Larson of Portland, Oregon, and Jeff Jobe of Kentucky's Jobe Publishing.

The questions ranged in topic. Kalunian asked about sanctuary cities. Herbick about economic recovery in Cleveland. Larson about land management. And Jobe about coal.

The White House, which didn't immediately respond to a request for more information, hasn't released details about how it's choosing reporters for the Skype seats. It does require them to live at least 50 miles from the capital. And Spicer said the idea was to open the briefings to "a diverse group of journalists" across the country who may not have the luxury or resources to participate.

But it appears it might not be a one-time gig. In response to Herbick's thank you for the opportunity, Spicer replied. "You'll be back, Natalie!"

The tenure of the briefings hasn't always been so cordial. Spicer and Team Trump got off to a rocky start the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration.

Spicer falsely claimed the inauguration was the most crowded in history, according to CBS News. At a visit that same day to the CIA, Trump said this about media coverage of his inauguration: "I always call them the dishonest media, but they treated me nicely."

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