Michelle Obama to Hold Another ‘Listen Only’ Press Briefing

By Matt Cover | March 2, 2011 | 10:51 AM EST

First lady Michelle Obama (AP Photo/Virginia Postic)

(CNSNews.com) - First Lady Michelle Obama will hold another “listen-only” conference call with reporters this afternoon, continuing a pattern of holding events for the media where access is sharply limited.

When public figures in Washington, D.C., hold telephone briefings for the press—which are designed to attract press coverage for some item the briefer is seeking to promote--they routinely allow reporters listening to the briefing to ask at least a few questions.

The First Lady appears to be establishing a new routine, where she speaks and--from beginning to end--reporters mutely listen.

At this afternoon’s no-questions-allowed telephone briefing, Mrs. Obama will discuss the administration’s Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge program. She will be joined in the briefing by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The briefing was announced in The Washington Daybook that was distributed by email on Tuesday afternoon. The Daybook, a service widely used by news organizations, provides editors and reporters with detailed schedules and contact information for federal government events and federal officials at least a day ahead of time.

Tuesday’s Daybook said the First Lady would be joined by Duncan and Vilsack today in “a conference call briefing, beginning at 3 p.m., to discuss ways to help schools join the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge program.” The Daybook said: “Note: Media are invited to this call in a listen-only capacity to hear the remarks,” and then provided the email for Mrs. Obama’s press secretary so reporters could RSVP for a listen-only spot on the telephone line.

CNSNews.com previously reported that on February 8 the First Lady held a “listen-only” telephone briefing for reporters to discuss her Let’s Move anti-obesity campaign.

On February 9, Mrs. Obama also conducted an “invitation only” call with unidentified “online media.” When CNSNews.com asked the First Lady’s office which “online media” the White House invited to this “invitation only” telephone briefing, the office did not identify them.