Technology added an historic wrinkle to Wednesday’s White House press briefing. For the first time, the briefing included questions from four journalists on Skype.
Syndicated conservative radio host Lars Larson, who hosts “The Lars Larson Show” from Portland, Oregon, was among the questioners. Larson endorsed President Donald Trump during the campaign and fierce critic of illegal immigration.
He addressed White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer as “Commander Spicer.”
“Commander Spicer, it’s a pleasure. Thanks for your service to America and thanks for the opportunity. I’ve got a broad question,” Larson said.
“The federal government is the biggest landlord in America. It owns two-thirds of a billion acres of America. I don’t think the founders ever envisioned it that way. Does President Trump want to start returning the people’s land to the people? And in the meantime, for a second question since that’s in fashion these days, can he tell the forest service to start logging our forests aggressively again to provide jobs for Americans, wealth for the Treasury and not spend $3.5 billion a year fighting forest fires?”
Spicer replied: “Thanks Lars. I think the president has been very clear that as part of an overall, comprehensive energy solution that we’ve got to utilize the resources that we have that the federal government owns, whether that’s the forests or natural resources or minerals that exist above and below the ground. We have too infrequently looked at our own resources and counted too much on foreign sources of energy.”
Larson’s appearance at the White House press briefing led some on social media to question why the right-wing talk show host was granted a spot.
Spicer also took questions from another Trump supporter, Jeff Jobe, a Kentucky-based publisher of six weekly newspapers. A self-described Trump supporter, Jobe ran for office as a Republican in 2009 and 2014, according to CNN.
Jobe asked when Trump would begin to reverse rules restricting coal mining, coal burning and coal exports.
Spicer also took questions on Skype from Natalie Herbick, an anchor for Fox 8 News in Cleveland, and Kimberly Kalunian, a reporter for WPRI in Rhode Island. Herbick asked about economic recovery in Cleveland, and Kalunian – who had the first question – asked about sanctuary cities.
Early in his tenure, Spicer has made news for taking questions from other Trump-friendly outlets, including LifeZette, which is owned by conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham. Trump considered Ingraham for Spicer’s position.
Spicer announced the plan last week, as a way to “open up the briefing room to journalists who live beyond 50 miles” from Washington, D.C.
“This can benefit us all by giving a platform to voices that are not necessarily based here in the Beltway,” Spicer said.