The Trump White House is adding Skype seats to its press room. During today’s press briefing by press secretary Sean Spicer, it was announced that “beginning later this week,” there will be four Skype systems in the briefing room next to the usual White House press corps.
“This will open up the briefing to journalists who live beyond 50 miles of the Washington, DC area and to organizations that don’t currently have a day pass,” Spicer said. “As always, any organization is welcome to apply for a day pass. But we’re excited to open up into the field and fold here a diverse group of journalists from around the country who may not have the convenience or funding to travel to Washington. I think this can benefit us all by giving a platform to voices that are not necessarily based here in the beltway.”
Spicer gave no additional details on exactly which journalists or news organizations will be given access to the so-called Skype seats, nor how the integration into the press room will work. The Verge has reached out to Microsoft for comment.
The announcement comes amid early tensions between the new Trump administration and the press corps in recent days following disagreements over the attendance at Trump’s Friday inauguration. “I don’t think there’s any question that it was the largest watched inauguration ever,” Spicer repeated again today after blasting the press for reporting underwhelming crowd sizes in a Saturday statement. “As you know, we’re all about big viewerships and large audiences here,” said Spicer as the lead-in to announcing the Skype seats.
”We want to have a healthy and open dialogue with the press corps. and the American people,” he followed. On Sunday, an exchange between NBC’s Chuck Todd and Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway on Meet The Press was widely mocked across social media when Conway suggested Trump’s side was presenting “alternative facts” to make its case.
Spicer pointed numerous times to an erroneous (and quickly corrected) report that Trump had removed a bust of Martin Luther King Jr from the Oval Office as evidence of the media’s rush to publish anti-Trump news. “Where’s the apology?” he asked, despite acknowledging a public apology days earlier. “The default narrative is always negative, and it’s demoralizing.” Spicer suggested he was trying to reset the relationship between Trump’s White House and the press on Monday, telling the reporters present “I’m going to stay here as long as you want.”