- Current Issue
SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
Need to create a login? Want to change your email address or password? Forgot your password?
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
“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
Number of free condoms handed out by the Brazilian government in advance of Carnival this year:
The best way to measure happiness is simply to ask people how happy they are.
Following three weeks of clashes between protesters and government forces that killed at least 17 people, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced a two-day extension of Carnival. “Happiness will conquer the embittered,” he said during an appearance at a recreation center.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”