Friday, December 4, 2009

April Ryan, Robert Gibbs and the Strange Gate-Crasher-Gate Question

President Obama's White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, a man not known for grace under pressure, had a bizarre confrontation with April Ryan, a reporter for the American Urban Radio Networks, over a question from Gate Crasher Gate.The White House provides a transcript of the exchange involving the White House Social
April Ryan, Robert Gibbs and the Strange Gate-Crasher-Gate Question
APRIL RYAN: Did she invite herself to the state dinner or was she a guest of, did the president invite her, or did she put her name on, no, that's a real question, do not fan [sic] at all.

"ROBERT GIBBS: I, I, Jonathan?
RYAN: I'm serious. No, seriously? Did she invite herself or did the president ask her. Her name was on that list and social secretaries are the ones who put the names on the list.

"GIBBS: Right.

"RYAN: Did she invite herself, or did the president--

"GIBBS: Right, was she at the dinner? April, April, calm down. Just take a deep breath for one second. See, this happens with my son. He does the same thing.

"[reporters in the briefing room: Oooooh!]

"RYAN: Don't play with me!

"GIBBS: I'm not.

"RYAN: I'm being serious. Do not blow at all.

"GIBBS: And I'm giving you a serious answer. Was she at the dinner? Yes.

"RYAN: Was she an invited guest?

"GIBBS: She's the social secretary. She had the primary responsibility--

"RYAN: No, social secretaries are not guests of the dinner.

"GIBBS: She had the primary responsibility for running the dinner. I'm going to get back to weightier topics like 98,000 men and women in Afghanistan."

There are two things to take away from this bizarre exchange. The first is that the question asked by April Ryan was rather silly. Of course the Social Secretary is going to be at a White House State Dinner because, as Robert Gibbs pointed out at the end, because she had the primary responsibility for making sure that the dinner went smoothly.