How badly did Robert Gibbs handle this? Even the White House press corps audibly gasps when he tells April Ryan, a reporter from American Urban Radio to “calm down” and then compares her to his young son in terms of temperament. Granted, the question she was pursuing was about as puerile as it gets; she wanted Gibbs on the record as to whether Michelle Obama felt overshadowed by White House social secretary Desiree Rogers. Was Gibbs being sexist, condescending, or was he just telling Ryan to grow up?
ABC’s Jordyn Phelps has the report:
Ryan had a heated back-and-forth with Gibbs over whether White House Social Secretary Desiree Rogers overstepped her bounds in the “Gate-Crash-gate” incident and was pressing Gibbs on the subject through repeated questions.
“Some might have called her the belle of the ball, overshadowing the first lady,” Ryan said.
Gibbs said he hadn’t heard that criticism before.
Ryan continued in her questioning, asking whether Rogers had invited herself to the first state dinner.
Gibbs shrugged it off, then told Ryan to calm down and take a deep breath.
“This happens with my son. He does the same thing,” Gibbs said, referring to his young child. It drew ooohs from the press corps.
“Don’t play with me,” Ryan said.
In my opinion, Gibbs should have found a better, less condescending way of telling Ryan that the White House isn’t American Idol, and that the First Lady doesn’t have to worry about her social secretary overshadowing her. Maybe ignoring Ryan for a while would get the message across. Because honestly, with high unemployment, escalating energy prices, and an ongoing war, are urban radio listeners really all that concerned about Desiree Rogers’ relative wattage in comparison to Michelle Obama?
Take the poll:
Update: Jake Tapper tweeted me that Jordyn Phelps wrote this piece for ABC, not him. I’ve corrected it in the post, and thanks to Jake for the correction.