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April Ryan v. Robert Gibbs - does Ryan hate White House' Desiree Rogers?

April Ryan, a reporter with American Urban Radio Networks, bumped the Tiger Woods scandal down Google Trends and for something I didn't think would reach the collective public media radar, an exchange with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs posted on YouTube by the conservative blog TownHall.com:

The issue that April Ryan's asking about is White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers' role in the State Dinner Partygate Scandal where Tareq and Michaele Salahi gained access to the exclusive affair without being on the White House' Official Guest List.

April Ryan of American Urban Networks

April Ryan was trying to ask Robert Gibbs why Desiree Rogers was at the dinner. Desiree Rogers is the White House Social Secretary who planned the event. But Ryan says that Washington gossip centers around the perception that Desiree Rogers is just working to advance her own interests.

What's of concern to me is Robert Gibbs' mistake of talking down to April Ryan - he should not have compared her to his kid - masks the real issue: what does April Ryan have against Desiree Rogers?

What's not reported at a number of conservative blogs is that this was the second straight day Ryan came to the White House press briefing and aggressively questioned Gibbs. I saw both exchanges on television and had the impression Ryan was fishing for information to write a "dirty" article about Desiree Rogers, who like Ryan is black.

Desiree Rogers

This exchange between Gibbs and Ryan is not important; what April Ryan wants to discover and then do with the information she gets is. Read this transcript (first posted at the DailyKos) from the first day of questions from April Ryan to Robert Gibbs:

QUESTION: Follow up. Normally in the past, before this administration came, there was always a checks and balances type of system at that gate with the Social Office, as well as the Secret Service --

MR. GIBBS: I think that's what Ed just asked.

QUESTION: That's what I'm saying. And you're saying --

MR. GIBBS: This is a follow-up or -- go ahead, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt.

QUESTION: Again, there's always been a series of checks and balances. And if there was a concern from the Secret Service, they would always relay it back to -- it was a back and forth between the Social Office and the Secret Service.

MR. GIBBS: What I'm saying -- what I said to Ed was --

QUESTION: But let me finish, please --

MR. GIBBS: No, no, no, but let me -- I think the question was asked, so let me reiterate my answer. Again, April, none of that relay happened, right? None of that relay happened between the Secret Service and the Social Office, whether or not the Social Office was standing at the gate or whether or not somebody was sitting in their office at the White House.

QUESTION: If you would allow me to finish, you can understand what I'm saying. The relay did not happen because that person was omitted at the gate from the Social Office. The way we understand, that person --

MR. GIBBS: Omitted?

QUESTION: That person was fired earlier in the year. So --

MR. GIBBS: But again, April, you can ask it seven ways. The answer continues to be, the relay didn't happen because somebody was or wasn't there. The relay didn't happen because nobody picked up the phone to relay the information. I mean, I appreciate the observation that somebody could or could not have been at a certain gate. But again, you could pick up the phone, just like I can pick up my phone in the office and relay you, April. You don't have to be standing in my office for me to convey information to you. I think the --

QUESTION: So are you saying that the Social Office does not have any responsibility in this at all?

MR. GIBBS: April, there's an investigation that's ongoing into the actions of what happened, and I'm going to wait for that to be completed.

QUESTION: The reason why we are questioning the Social Office and the Secret Service is because in the past, both have worked in conjunction and successfully were able to protect the President of the United States without anyone coming in. And now because the Social Office did not have that other layer of checks and balances there, this happened. And people are questioning why this White House is not putting the onus some on the Social Office, as well.

MR. GIBBS: I'm going to let the investigation put the onus on where the onus should be. But what I'm simply doing is explaining to you a series of facts that include the notion that if somebody was confused about whether or not somebody was on a list at a guard tower on the exterior perimeter of the White House, and there was a question, generally somebody could pick up the phone and ask. I'm saying that -- I'm saying that the Secret Service, in the statement that they released a few days ago, acknowledged that that didn't happen and that that was a mistake.

QUESTION: The whole process has been changed at that gate from now on. Will the Social Office be working in conjunction with the Secret Service now?

MR. GIBBS: I think first and foremost we're going to go through this investigation, and I would refer you to the Secret Service about operations that might change at that gate.

QUESTION: And the last question. People were saying that the President was never in danger, and many people have said that is not true. They got in --

MR. GIBBS: Who's "many people"?

QUESTION: People here, Secret Service. These people met with the President. They shook the President's hand. Who's to say they did not have some kind of -- granted, they didn't -- but hypothetically, what if a person had walked in and could have done something to the President? The President -- do you --

MR. GIBBS: This hasn't happened before. (Laughter.) I appreciate the opportunity to indulge in a grand hypothetical.

QUESTION: Has the President remarked on this at all?

MR. GIBBS: Look, I think the President shares the concern that the director has for how this happened and how we can remedy it from happening again.

QUESTION: Is he concerned about his safety with this?


QUESTION: Have you heard him say anything, is he angry or is he as incredulous as the average American is that people could just walk right into the White House like this?

MR. GIBBS: I think the President -- look, the reason there's an investigation is the President and the White House has asked for that to happen. So I think suffice to say the President is rightly concerned about what happened last week.

QUESTION: Have you actually heard him say anything about it?

MR. GIBBS: I have not heard it, but it's been relayed to me.

QUESTION: Can you confirm whether or not charges will be filed against this couple?

MR. GIBBS: That is not a power bestowed on me as the press secretary. I know they've -- according to media reports, they've been interviewed by the Secret Service. I think that's a decision that would be made by the Secret Service and the United States Attorney in that area.

That reads like April Ryan's trying to do a media hit on Desiree Rogers. The Gibbs / Ryan "talks" are not Gibbs being disrespectful to a black woman, Ryan. They are Gibbs trying to defend Desiree Rogers from April Ryan's silly attacks.

April Ryan's questions have nothing to do with Tareq and Michaele Salahi at all. It's about Desiree Rogers' style. First, the real question is what did the Secret Service ask the Salahis at the check in desk? Second, who did the Salahis' know that helped them get into the event? Focusing on what fashion show Desiree Rogers attended in New York City has zero to do with the issue of the State Dinner.

In my view, April Ryan is being what we in the African American professional community call a "crabbarel": a black person who wants to take down another black person because the target has reached some level of fame. Mentioning that Desiree Rogers is at fashion shows and other events is not the point and calls her real intent into question. Desiree Rogers style and looks may be April Ryan's issue, but Ryan needs to get over it.
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