Rogers not invited to Kenwood wedding that includes Obamas
BY MICHAEL SNEED firstname.lastname@example.org June 13, 2012 12:34AM
Desiree Rogers and Valerie Jarrett in happier times, together at a D.C. party in May 2009. | Brendan Hoffman~Getty Images
Updated: July 16, 2012 1:20PM
The wedding aisle ...
The president is going.
The first lady is going.
First daughters Sasha and Malia will be there.
But Desiree Rogers, the first African-American to become the White House Social Secretary, has been dissed.
◆Translation: Rogers has not been invited to the backyard Kenwood wedding this weekend for the daughter of the ultimate White House insider/Rogers’ former “closer-than-glue” best friend, White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.
“It’s so sad. Desiree and Valerie were once so close; family close,” said a friend of Rogers, who is now CEO of Johnson Publishing — one of the nation’s most prominent African-American Media companies.
Rogers, who saw her White House career careen into disarray for being “too glamorous” and promoting her version of “The Obama Brand” during President Barack Obama’s first year in office, has once again run into a sharp elbow.
“Desiree is not going and has not been invited,” said a top Sneed source.
Apparently Desiree Rogers’ brand is no longer sought.
Is that lack of brand recognition coming from Jarrett or did the nudge come from Michelle Obama, who felt there could be only one diva in the White House?
Sneed is told it was Valerie Jarrett who was given marching orders by Michelle to get Rogers to resign; White House strategist David Axelrod also wanted her gone.
It didn’t help Rogers’ cause to dress in boffo designer-wear in “The People’s House,” call the first lady “Michelle,” or assign herself her own table at a state dinner.
It prompted this response from Rogers to the media: “It has nothing to do with being glamorous, that is all make-believe in the eyes of the press. This is who I am, this is how I dress, I’ve always dressed this way, it’s all a matter of your taste,” she said.
Rogers did not respond to Sneed’s requests for comment.
Sneed exclusively disclosed June 5 that the Obamas were invited and planning to attend the Kenwood wedding Saturday of Obama best buddy Valerie Jarrett’s daughter, Laura, to fellow attorney Tony Balkissoon.
(Sneed has also learned two of Jarrett’s former White House irritants have not been invited: Former White House chiefs of staff Rahm Emanuel and Bill Daley.)
The exclusion of Rogers , the former queen of the Obama social schedule, from the “White House wedding of the year,” smarts.
“Valerie and Desiree were once very close; Sunday dinner mates; part of a powerful clique of African-American Chicago women, which also included Johnson Publishing chairman Linda Johnson Rice,” said a top source familiar with the group. “Michelle Obama was not part of that elite Chicago clique.”
The wedding snub is more than social; Rogers watched Jarrett’s daughter grow up.
The snub contains salt; Rogers’ ex-husband and close friend, financial guru John Rogers, has been invited.
The former social diva is also not on the list of African-American royalty — and members of the new Obama social order — gathering Friday night before the wedding for a backyard barbecue at the Kenwood home of attorney/developer Allison Davis; and the get-together at the president’s Kenwood home, where he will stay while entertaining pals Marty Nesbitt and Eric Whitaker.
Sneed is told approximately 100 people will attend the wedding in Jarrett’s backyard — which is a hop, skip and jump from the president’s house. A contingent from the president’s Cabinet including Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, as well as Valerie Jarrett’s close friend Susan Sher, have reportedly been invited.
It was Jarrett who gave the blessing to hire Rogers, an elegant fashionista with a business administration degree from Harvard, for the White House job after Obama reportedly was impressed with her social fund-raising skills.
But when Rogers began capturing more press attention than the first lady; garnering praise for being glamorous; and being panned for a security lapse leading to uninvited guests crashing the president’s first state dinner, things changed.
It also didn’t help that the Rogers sizzle was being found on the covers of Vogue and Michigan Avenue as well as in clips and pix in Town & Country, Vanity Fair and Capitol File with clothes and jewelry being flashed in the Wall Street Journal magazine.
“A year after Michelle Obama became first lady, all that changed. There has been a total divorce. The old clique is gone,” a source said.
“Desiree unfortunately became the ‘glamour’ girl when she joined the White House staff—and there was room for only one glamour girl in the White House: Michelle Obama,” the source added.
The glamour department will be in full force, however, at the wedding. The bride, Laura Jarrett, a lawyer at Mayer Brown, was described in a Vogue magazine article as “gorgeous: a cross between Alicia Keys and Halle Berry.”
The big question: Who will walk the bride down the aisle? (Laura Jarrett’s father was Dr. William Robert Jarrett, son of legendary Chicago Sun-Times journalist Vernon Jarrett. Dr. Jarrett was divorced from Valerie Jarrett three years before he died in 1991 of a heart attack. And Valerie Jarrett’s father, James Bowman, an internationally recognized geneticist, died last year.)
Will it be her mother; her grandmother, Barbara Bowman, an expert in early childhood development and co-founder of the Erikson Institute; or President Obama?
As they say, stay tuned.
Wednesday’s birthdays: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, 27; Tim Allen, 60, and
Ally Sheedy, 51.