First Lady's Office Holds ‘Listen Only’ and 'Invitation Only' Conference Calls for Reporters

February 9, 2011 - 5:43 PM

Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) – On Tuesday, the office of First Lady Michelle Obama sponsored several conference calls featuring administration officials discussing Mrs. Obama's “Let’s Move!” campaign to combat childhood obesity but “with listen-only lines for the media,” according to The Washington Daybook. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama personally conducted a conference call for “online media” that was “by invitation only,” according to the Daybook.

Traditionally, conference calls that public figures in Washington, D.C. hold for the media--which, obviously, are designed to get media attention for the public figure--allow the reporters who join the call to ask at least a few questions. 

The Washington Daybook is a service widely used by Washington, D.C., news organizations that provides detailed schedules and contact information for federal government events and federal officials at least a day ahead of time.

The Daybook sent out on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 7, said that on the afternoon of Feb. 8 the office of First Lady Michelle Obama would be sponsoring a series of conference calls on the first anniversary of her "Let's Move" campaign that would feature U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Flint, Mich., Mayor Dayne Walling. The Daybook listed as the contact for these conference calls the "First Lady's Press Office."

The Daybook distributed on the afternoon of Feb.8 listed another event for Feb. 9, also to mark the first anniversary of the "Let's Move" campaign, this time sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama herself. The Daybook said of this event: "2:30 p.m.: Conference call with online media to discuss her message to parents and the new PSAs. By invitation only." The contact for this "invitation only" event was again listed as the "First Lady's Press Office."

The White House did not respond to inquiries from CNSNews.com about these “invitation only” and “listen only” conference calls for news media sponsored by the first lady's office.

Michael W. Chapman contributed to this report.