Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bad News About Ina Or Bad Reporting?

I really didn't want to write about any of this Ina-gate scandal, because, at the beginning, I had no clue if it was true or not or HOW true any of it was. Apparently, the Make A Wish Foundation reached out to Ina (or her people) to ask if she would cook with a sick little boy, who loved to watch her show. The story that was making the rounds is that she coldly refused, because she was too busy promoting her book.

The story started appearing in many different places and loads of negative comments towards the Contessa followed. Then her people supposedly confirmed that she WAS too busy. I don’t for a second believe that Ina cruelly and heartlessly said NO! to this little boy.

Either the message was never actually delivered to Ina herself or, equally likely, she WAS completely, totally booked with prearranged (probably well in advance) events and there was no callous spurning of an ill child.

One of my great blogging buddies has been reaching out to Ina for a while to ask permission to post one of her recipes and he's never heard back. (I love him for refusing to post anyone else’s recipes without permission.) I’m thinking it may be just a case of not knowing the right channels to go through to get to Ina directly or to whoever needs to make that call.

This story has resulted in a surprising amount of bad publicity for my favorite Food Network star and I think it’s entirely unwarranted. No one can do everything that is asked and, for all we know, Ina already met her quota of cooking with sick kids this year. That sounds harsh, but, really, the thing I want to know is who leaked the story and why. It can’t be in the Make A Wish Foundation’s best interest to have people publicly pilloried when not all wishes can come true. It is a wonderful organization and I can’t believe it was them.

What I really don't like is people saying, Oh I never liked her anyway and this proves it. THIS PROVES NOTHING, except that we shouldn't take as fact any old thing that's printed. 

The good news? Ina is now going to meet with the child, although I hate the idea (for both parties) that she was pushed into it. And the latest version of her pr debacle is that Ina only heard about all this brouhaha a few days ago, which is exactly what I suspected all along. 


Stephanie said...

I whole-heartedly agree with everything you said here. My assumption is that the requests were taken by a personal assistant or something, and they couldn't fit the meeting in. She may be a major celebrity chef, but she still only gets 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week.

I do love the people who are adamant that they'll NEVER EVER EVER watch her show again after this...because we all know all of the facts can be reflected in a 500-word internet news post. =/

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

When I first heard about it I thought it sounded rather callous and wondered how "busy" she could be. Couldn't she just have the kid over and have him help in the kitchen the next time her gay friends come over? Then I heard the MAW was not happy with the brouhaha because 90% of celebrities turn down requests like this and Ina probably deserves no more scorn than any other. Didn't Rachael Ray get shamed the same way in recent years? She turned down a sick kid and ended up leaving a message on the kid's answering machine after people held her feet ot the fire?

I don't doubt that Ina might have known of the request and simply turned it down just like the rest of the 90% of celebs. I just don't think either she or MAW expected a firestorm. Now if only we could shame the other 90% and have them fulfill some dying child's wish too. :-D

Sue said...

Hi Stephanie,
I guess this is the power of the media and social networking. Every little thing can get (mis)reported and spread around. It takes just one enthusiastic hater to get a band wagon started.

Hi Rach,
I think the point is that Ina never even heard about this (which I'm choosing to believe 100%) until after the firestorm started. But even if she did, as you say, the majority of people asked probably are not able to participate for a whole host of reasons and not because they're terrible people.

Anonymous said...

It seems everyone wants to believe the worst about celebrities -- in Ina's case having her fabulous Hamptons life made people think it was plausible that she would be a cold-hearted person underneath it all.

It's unfortunate that Ina doesn't have better assistants/PR people, because stuff like this shouldn't happen. And one of them should definitely respond to my requests for permission to reprint recipes!

Sheila said...

Just a mess. But I'm giving Ina the benefit of the doubt also.

I'm glad you wrote about it. Social networking is powerful and so is blogging and its important to balance out the negativity!

Emily said...

I think Ina is a good person and wouldn't turn down a sick child like that. I really think her people didn't tell her about it because her schedule was already full.

But what do I know? I can only speculate.

As for how the story got out... maybe the family leaked it because they were so disappointed?

Marla said...

Sue, I'm with you in believing Ina didn't know about the request, but somebody sure dropped the ball. A friend has a relative who was associated with MAW and he said there was an informal agreement that families not reveal who turned them down because of this very kind of backlash. Of course, my heart goes out to Enzo and his family, but also to Ina who was described as "personally devastated."

nancy said...

I read that the mom of the child is the one who leaked it. She was angry that Ina wouldn't meet him.

Corie said...

What makes me angry is Make-A-Wish's handling of this. They should have never told the child's parents that she couldn't meet with them, rather they should have had the boy make three requests and tell them that they would do their best to make ONE of them happen. I think the boy's parents are manipulative and greedy. I'm sure celebrities get TONS of requests and they just can't meet them all- even if they want to. Could you imagine how many Johnny Depp must get?? Poor Ina for getting smeared in the middle of this and the poor little boy for being told NO, instead of given another option.

Cynthia said...

I had no clue all this was going on with the BC. You see why your blog is so important, especially to people like me? :)

Weather Matt said...

How could any of you have any opinion on this? You don't really know Ina, nor what she knew or didn't know. I understand being a fan but her TV persona and what you read in the press, etc, etc, may or may not represent her well. I can understand saying "I'm a big fan and I hope it isn't true" but to absolve her simply b/c you want to believe her is absurd. It might just be that she isn't a good person. Sometimes that happens with people we are fans of. Not saying she is, but you don't know either way.

Sue said...

Yikes, Matt!
THAT was exactly my point! All these people jumped on the bandwagon ascribing the worst possible motives to Ina without knowing anything about the situation. I actually withheld ANY comment for days until I couldn't take it anymore because of the wackos saying they would never watch her again because she's such a horrible person. (She's probably better off without them.)

Of course, we don't know what really happened, but I prefer to assume that someone that makes such a great chocolate cake couldn't possibly be so heartless.