Monday, December 7, 2009

Caging The Swan – The Media’s Quest To Put Desiree Rogers in Her "Place"


We’ve all heard the scuttlebutt about Ms. Rogers ‘s recent faux pas during the first official State Dinner at The White House. I will not beat a dead horse with the details or give the infamous party crashers any more publicity. The issue is in front of Congress and the politicos will decide what next steps should be taken.

I am pleased that The President and The First Lady made it very clear that they are standing by Ms. Rogers. Good for them. Hopefully, this will put any speculation about the closeness of their relationship to rest.

Did she slip? Yes.

Should she be held accountable for that slippage? Yes but it’s up to The White House to decide how this will be handled.

Now to the issue at hand. Readers of this blog know that I am a HUGE fan of Ms. Rogers and covered her long before she landed the position of White House Social Secretary. I’m proud of her and feel that she (along with all of the Sisters in The White House) represent us well.

So, I’ll be damned (oh…that slipped) that I will not call into question of some things I’ve read/witnessed recently in the mainstream press and on various blogs.

There is an ugly movement to cage, control, and “check” Ms. Rogers. And I don’t like it one bit.

So, put on your scuba gear on and hold your breath for this quick dive into this murky abyss (but have faith that I will bring back high level of positivity that that we are accustomed to on this blog).

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times has made a very good living off of her usually snarky and catty manifestos. A pattern of her being extremely critical of women in the political arena along with other subtle hints of “-isms” is why I’m just not that into to her. In her recent column “The Lady and The Tiger”, Dowd's comparison of Tiger Woods and Ms. Rogers reeks of racism (yes, I said it).

Dowd refers to Woods and Rogers as “elegant, entitled swans…obsessed with protecting and promoting the Brand” that are “perfectionist high achievers brought low.” She also accuses Ms. Rogers of “sashaying around.”

(Side note: For readers who may not understand the curious history of the phrase “sashaying around” in reference to Black people, here’s a quick history lesson. This phrase has been historically used to refer to Black people who did not stay in “their place” in subservient to Whites in the South and can have a pejorative meaning. It is not inconceivable that Dowd who is almost 60 years old has heard and/or possibly used the pejorative meaning of this phrase in the past. Ms. Dowd has also been accused of racist commentary in previous columns.)

First of all, where in the HELL did the comparison to Tiger Woods come from? The issues of what transpired with Woods and Ms. Rogers are diametrically opposed. Woods’s affair and Rogers’s slippage are not even in the same sphere. But in the minds of the covertly racist, the parallels between the two are uncanny. They are both cut from the same “uppity” cloth of Black privilege and need to be brought down a few pegs.

But here’s something else that’s alarming. Ms. Dowd had the gall to suggest that Ms. Rogers was somehow hiding and that she asserted “personal privilege” that was “off putting. “ I find this use of language rather interesting especially considering that the same criticism was recently made of Ms. Dowd. Ms. Dowd was accused of plagiarism earlier this year and calls for her resignation went ignored by the editors of the New York Times. She brushed off the charges and skipped along her merry way although the evidence against her is clear and unquestionable.

So, I’m eager see what analysis or criticism of the “sashaying around-elegant, entitled swan” comment from Ms. Dowd will be taken on by the blogosphere and/or the media. Ms. Dowd needs to be snatched out of her tower and held accountable for this horrific commentary, period.

April Ryan of The Urban Radio Networks jousted with White House Press Secretary Bill Gibbs over Ms. Rogers’s role in the State Dinner debacle. It is all over YouTube.

I found Ms. Ryan’s display embarrassing (especially for those who fought so hard for the Black press to be respected among its media peers). Ms. Ryan demonstrated a classic “neck craning home girl-I won’t be ignored by you” posturing tone in her questioning which prompted Gibbs’ equally inappropriate response. It was all so ugly and unnecessary. Ms. Ryan also opened herself to further criticism by showing up to the press briefing looking disheveled and unkempt to ask really outrageous questions out Ms. Rogers.

Ms. Ryan (or any other journalist) has the right to request a press room meeting with Ms. Rogers about this issue if they feel this is newsworthy and; my feeling is that The White House should oblige. But here’s the caveat. Spewing “he said/she said” rumors and other speculative foolishness that reeks of a potential personal “beef” does not qualify for journalist inquiry. There’s a story in this recent White House breech but fueling the rumor mill (with no solid evidence) that Ms. Rogers trying to “outshine” The First Lady is not germane to the discussion.

This brings me to my next point…

Several bloggers are stirring the pot against Ms. Rogers with accusations of her trying to “upstage” our First Lady. This is straight postulation with no metrics or details. Ms. Rogers was requested to serve The White House by The President and The First Lady. They have known each other for twenty years. All three people in this relationship are Ivy leagued educated.

Furthermore, our First Lady is no intellectual slouch. She made more than $300,000 in her last professional position and was a compensated Board of Directors member for a small company.

So do you honestly think that she would tolerate one of her staffers trying to “upstage” her? She just doesn’t strike me as that type of lady. And even if you think that Ms. Rogers’s motivation is self serving, please give our First Lady some credit in her ability to be discerning about who she allows to be around her and her husband.

Bloggers need be really careful about unwarranted accusations. We know that the blogosphere is highly influential and we owe it to our readers to provide a different slice of life in juxtaposition to the mainstream media. And, many of you who are sooooo critical of Ms. Rogers, personally profit from the unrestricted ability to re-package, re-post, and re-sell images of The President and The First Lady. Yet most of you have been isolated from any real criticism about your motivations of constant coverage of this White House.

So, if you truly support this Administration then damn it (oops…another slip) criticize in private and praise publicly. Your negative postings against Ms. Rogers help fuel the anti Obama political machine. Be clear that any overt criticism of her can be perceived (and misconstrued) as a shot against The President and The First Lady’s judgment.

The issue of coverage on Ms. Rogers is bigger than a breach of security at The White House. Like so many polished, attractive, professional Black women, Ms. Rogers garners a peculiar blend of envy and hatred in America. These ladies are capable and great until they make one mistake. Then their entire career, motivations, and talents are publicly called into question.

Aren’t you tired of this? I know I am – hence, today’s rant. The time has come for us to talk about it openly and call it out for what it is rather than chatting among ourselves on Facebook, at club meetings, and in chat rooms. Yes Ms. Rogers made some mistakes and we’ll chat about that soon. But let’s be crystal clear that most of the recent criticism of her is personally motivated and flat out biting.

It’s up to us to decide if we think it’s acceptable by our silence.