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“On the night of the Obamas’ first state dinner, White House social secretary Desirée Rogers glided past the rope line of press and photographers at 6:53 p.m., pausing to boast, “We are very excited . . . everything looks great,” the Washington Post reported yesterday. “Little did she know that the evening would end up tarnishing her vaunted reputation as an overachieving perfectionist.”
“Will a star be shorn?” asked the story. It said that “questions have been raised over whether Rogers, whose office drew up the guest list, was so busy basking in the limelight that she failed to notice what was unfolding in the shadows.” What was unfolding, of course, was Michaele and Tareq Salahi’s having their pictures snapped with Obama and other administration officials, and generally having a fine time at the state dinner.
Where did Rogers get her “vaunted reputation as an overachieving perfectionist” in the first place? The answer is from a Post item back in February, an online interview with Rogers titled, “Managing the Highest-Profile Social Scene.” An introduction to the interview described Rogers as the “glamorous new social secretary” and “the most influential event planner on the planet, a woman empowered to use 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to set the cultural tone for the Obama era.”
“No detail escapes her eye,” said the story, a comment that seems particularly ironic in light of the unfolding Dinnergate scandal.
This was one of a series of puff jobs the Post has run about Obama’s incoming team, stories sometimes known as “beat sweeteners”. Rogers’s assistant, Samantha Tubman, received similarly fawning treatment in a profile that ran last month.
“She’s super-nice,” wrote Dan Zak. “She’s an Ivy Leaguer who radiates modesty and competence. No one will say a bad word about her, even in jest. She dresses well, loves her family, lives near Logan Circle, brunches with friends on Sundays, balks at turning 30 next month, and is one of those former bright-eyed campaign troupers who (cliche alert!) constantly pinches herself when reporting for duty at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”
The story included glowing praise from Rogers and Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass (“She’s a genius, she’s a hero, she’s a one-woman army”) and Zak himself called Tubman “a maestra of the minutiae behind events that play out all over the White House, making sure the right podium is used, that every player is on the same page, that the ticktock of a program runs smoothly.”
Zak said that Tubman’s efficiency would soon be on display as she had been intimately involved in planning sessions for the Obama administration’s upcoming debut state dinner.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Average portion of its yearly household expenditures that a South African family will spend on a funeral:
Neuroscientists were hoping to use rat brain waves to find people buried by earthquakes.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature