Robert Gibbs Demonstrates Blatant Contempt Of April Ryan
One of the things I hated most about the previous administration was they way it handled the press corps. George Bush Junior had a way of addressing questions and addressing members of the press that was really condescending. He would masks his ignorance over issues with arrogance and disregard. He would look at somebody trying to ask him a question and address them by one of their obvious physical characteristics. If somebody was tall their new nickname was stretch. If somebody had a thick head of hair he’d call them hairy. It never got so bad that he would refer to somebody by their race. Not even Mr. Bush would make an obvious distinction to somebody’s race or gender. But it looks like current White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs doesn’t have the sense of Mr. Bush.
At a recent White House press conference, correspondent April Ryan representing American Urban Radio wanted to ask questions about Desiree Rogers’ relationship with White House operations. Ms. Rogers, serving as the White House Social Secretary, received media attention for her involvement in the scandal surrounding Taraq and Michaele Salahi penetrating White House security and crashed the state dinner held for the Prime Minister of India. The Salahis claim that Ms. Rogers was arranging for their invitation to the dinner and since they never received a call from Ms. Rogers saying that they could not come, they assumed that they had permission to attend the dinner.
During the press conference, Ms. Ryan obviously wanted more information regarding Ms. Rogers. Ms. Ryan claimed that there have been suggestions around Washington D.C. that Ms. Rogers had overstepped the traditional role of her title at the event to become the belle of the ball and trying to overshadow the First Lady. Mr. Gibbs didn’t think it necessary to give any attention to the subject and clearly wanted to change direction. When Ms. Ryan persisted, Mr. Gibbs, told her to calm down and to take a deep breath. He then added a patronizing comment that he has to do this all the time with his son. Ethan Gibbs, Robert Gibbs’ son, is six years old. I have never heard Mr. Bush or anyone from his staff compare anyone from the press corps to his or her child. No one could get under Mr. Bush’s skin better than Helen Thomas. And although Mr. Bush often could not hide his exasperation with her, he never dismissed her with the gentle suggestion that she’s too excited and needs to calm down.
It is unfortunate that Mr. Gibbs chose a black female reporter to disrespect so soundly. Black women are a very small percentage of the press pool. If Mr. Gibbs told a black man to stop being so petulantly immature he may have been accused of being racist. If Mr. Gibbs told a white woman to stop being such an obnoxious irritant, it would have been seen as sexist but not possibly racist. But instead, Mr. Gibbs went for the efficiency of a twofer by slamming one person that he could clearly demonstrate his contempt for black women. Mr. Gibbs has had tense exchanges with people in the press corps before and has pushed the boundaries of civility. Every Press Secretary does. But here, Mr. Gibbs takes a step over the line and goes far beyond what is acceptable. He makes his contempt for Ms. Ryan tangible and he does it regardless of how it might look to others.
If Mr. Gibbs wanted to dismiss Ms. Ryan he could have done so without making the suggestion that she is a child among adults. She is a professional worthy of consideration just like all the other professionals that crosses Mr. Gibbs’ path. If Mr. Gibbs’ son is ill tempered and moody and Mr. Gibbs sometimes has to get him to behave, it looks like it might be an inherited trait. Like son, like father. Instead of behaving like the official White House ass, Mr. Gibbs should follow his own advice. He should take a moment to chill and calm down before he acts so brash. We must give Ms. Ryan credit. It would’ve been easy for her to respond to Mr. Gibbs with her own question asking if his son also had the problem of seeing his father as a pompous ass with a face so stupid it looks like a cross between Peter Griffin from the Family Guy and the lame John Hodgman who plays PC guy to Mac’s much more visually appealing Justin Long.
But like many interactions between people from the black community and the current White House, this is just another manifestation of the contempt this administration has for black people. Ever since we saw Mr. Obama stand in front of the black community and tell black people to take responsibility for the issues pertaining to the black community, we should have learned that this administration would see black people as something different not worthy of attention. Mr. Obama never went before any other group of people and dismissed their issues so completely. With every issue that impacts America at this time of economic peril, the affects on the black community are magnified. But before we can get help from our government, we have to straighten ourselves up and quit acting so irresponsibly.
This is the same message Mr. Gibbs delivered to Ms. Ryan. Before he can address the question, Ms. Ryan has to stop acting so immaturely and take a little time to straighten up. Ms. Rogers’ is nobody that deserves attention. Let’s just gloss over that and move along. That’s how this administration treats people it doesn’t respect. And so far, this is the behavior it reserves exclusively for people in the black community. Mr. Gibbs is just doing his part to manifest this contempt.
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