President Barack Obama has often lauded his administration as being the "most transparent" but the administration continues to hold a string of "listen only" media events where reporters are not allowed to ask questions.
On Wednesday, first lady Michelle Obama held a "listen only" media call on the “Joining Forces” national initiative to support military families. This latest conference call where reporters can not ask questions, is part of a string of media events with the first lady where reporters can only "listen in" or attend if invited by the White House press office.
This ‘listen only’ procedure has been utilized earlier this May by the State Department.During the first days of the U.S. – China economic summit neither Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner took questions from reporters.
There have also been reports of threats from the White House press office to ban reporters from events if they don’t like the coverage they have been given in the past. This Wednesday, a reporter from the Boston Herald newspaper was not given full access to President Obama’s fundraising visit in Massachusetts. Reportedly because the White House press office was not pleased with a front page op-ed by 2012 GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney that ran in the paper.
Late last month, it was reported the White House press office threatened to ban a San Francisco Chronicle reporter and other Hearst newspaper reporters from the press pool covering the president. This was allegedly because the reporter posted video of protestors at an Obama campaign fundraiser for the paper’s website. The White House denies the threat was issued.
Not all reporters are threatened with bans however, it was revealed on air on May 12th that CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria has face-to-face meetings with President Obama, at the president’s request. This is after the CNN host told viewers on-air that he would vote for Obama for president in October of 2008.