The New York Times fronts an article by Peter Baker on the ugly departure of White House social secretary Desirée Rogers. Go ahead and call it a classic “Who cares?” story, but I’m shallow enough to admit it’s the only one I’ve read in the Times so far today.
What really hit me, though, was this:
And while she [Rogers] is unwilling to discuss her story publicly, several associates shared her account in the belief that her side has been lost in the swirl of hearings, backbiting and paparazzilike coverage.
Go ahead and read the story. I have no doubt that Baker did, indeed, interview “several associates.” But it also seems crystal-clear that Rogers sat down with Baker and gave him an extensive interview, all of it premised on an agreement that she would not be quoted either by name or on a not-for-attribution basis. I believe that’s called “deep background” — not that there’s any agreement on what the term means.
The whole point to such an exercise is to provide Rogers with plausible deniability, and I don’t think Baker did that. Of course, assuming Baker stuck to their agreement, that’s Rogers’ problem, not his. Still, from an ethical point of view it’s at least worth chewing over.
A final caveat: I am, of course, guessing at what happened. It’s possible that Baker got Rogers’ side solely on the basis of interviews with her friends, and that she herself refused to speak with him. But that’s not how it looks from here.
White House photo by Joyce Boghosian. More information at Wikimedia Commons.