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Gibbs on Desiree Rogers and Chicagoans in the White House. Transcript


WASHINGTON--The resignation of White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers, a story I broke on Friday, triggered questions a few hours later at White House press secretary Robert Gibbs daily briefing.

Here are the exchanges about Rogers:

Q And presumably, if he thinks somebody raised a legitimate point, that would be reflected in this new -- okay. White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers is resigning.

First of all, the President and the First Lady put out a statement saying that they thought she did a terrific job. Could you tell us what she did that was terrific?

MR. GIBBS: Well, I think -- I think countless -- countless numbers of people have come to events here that have -- that showcased the People's House, as they said in their statement. I think the doors of this house were open to folks that had not necessarily always gotten to be here -- whether it was schoolchildren from the area, whether it was low-income kids that got an opportunity to see the White House not from outside of Pennsylvania Avenue through a fence or a gate, but instead up close and inside of it.

I think the President is tremendously grateful for all of her hard work in organizing literally hundreds of events over the course of the past many months, and thanks her very much for serving her country.

Q The White House has been criticized for the Chicagoans who are part of the team. I know this happens with every White House, they bring people from their home -- the President brings people from their home city or home state and they get criticized by Washingtonians. But certainly, Desiree Rogers was part of that Chicago circle. Is that an unfair criticism? What does the President think when he hears people going after Chicagoans like Valerie Jarrett or Axelrod or Desiree Rogers?

MR. GIBBS: Well, look, we -- I've not talked specifically to the President on that. I think, as you said, Jake, there is -- there are criticisms of many people that work here --

Q Including yourself?

MR. GIBBS: -- including myself. But Helen, I didn't realize you blogged under that name. (Laughter.)

Look, that's part of what comes with this. I don't think anybody that works here understands that they're -- including myself -- are free from any of that criticism.

Again, I think if you look at the enormity of the number, the size, and the scope of events that transpired here at the White House, I think her service, as the President and the First Lady have said, is to be commended.

Yes, sir.

Q On Desiree, why is she leaving? Was she pushed or did she jump?

MR. GIBBS: No, you saw Desiree -- many of you, I think, saw the interview that she did, where she was asked to come here by the President and the First Lady to do many of the things that I told -- talked to Jake about. And she told them around the beginning of the year that she thought it was time for her to go back to the private sector. She's not been asked to leave. She's decided it's time to go back to doing other things that she loves.

Q And the State Dinner incident did not play into this at all?

MR. GIBBS: I don't think it did, no.

I think that the President has on so many occasions asked for the ideas, the help, and the support of people on both sides of the political aisle. Their desire not to help solve the problem on behalf of the American people is something that they've made a decision.

Q Quick on Desiree. You said she wasn't pushed, but did the President entreat her to stay -- "We need you"?

MR. GIBBS: Desiree came to the President and the First Lady to give them her decision in wanting to go back.

Q When was this?

MR. GIBBS: I don't have the exact date, but it was -- again, I'd point you to what she said in that interview -- closer to the beginning of the year.

Q Can you confirm reports that Julianna Smoot will replace her?

MR. GIBBS: I don't have any announcements to make on replacements.

Q And can I ask you about Desiree? Is today her last day? Has she already left?

MR. GIBBS: No. She will be here for some transition period, but I do not have a final day.


History will not be that kind to Gibbs. He is one of the most arrogant and condescending of press secretaries in my lifetime. He can manage to smile and disseminate without saying anything, and shame on you if you press him any further. As to the White House having visitors that never received the chance in previous administrations, who is he kidding? Every administration has their choice of whom to let visit. This is not the first administration to have underprivileged children come to visit. Gibbs is still trying to build the "myth".

I don't know what R.L. is smoking, but Gibbs seems to be much more effective and honest than any in the Bush years, who had to keep lying to the press corp for eight years about all the dirty tricks being played on the American public.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on February 26, 2010 8:57 PM.

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