Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs expressed "regret" Monday for insulting First Lady Michelle Obama during a contentious White House staff meeting where he also scorned Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. The incident came to light in a new book, "The Obamas," by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor. Jarrett, however, claims the two have "worked through disagreements."
According to Kantor, the exchange occurred on Sept. 16, 2010, right after after Gibbs had allegedly diffused a potentially explosive report that claimed Mrs. Obama told French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy that she "can't stand" life in the White House and that it was "hell."
Jarrett alleged Mrs. Obama was "dissatisfied" with Gibbs' handling of the incident and that the former press secretary launched into Jarrett for interfering in the matter.
According to the book, Gibbs used a series of expletives, including the "F" word, which was allegedly directed at the First Lady.
Since the embarrassing set of events surfaced, Gibbs issued the following statement on Monday:
"In any high-pressure work environment there are occasional arguments and disagreements and that is certainly true of the White House. I regret speaking in anger and regret that this disagreement became so public. But those moments pale in comparison to the important issues facing our country and will not overshadow the vital work Valerie and I will do together as part of a team in 2012."
Jarrett, in a subsequent statement, wrote:
"Since 2004, Robert Gibbs and I have worked together on campaigns and in the government, and he has been a valued advisor and Press Secretary to this President and a key member of the Obama team. Like any colleagues, we've shared some laughs and we've shared some words over the years. But we have always worked through any disagreements out of mutual respect and in our shared commitment now and in the future to President Obama."
Irrespective of the mini-controversy generated by the book, the White House has dismissed “The Obamas” as over-sensationalized.
“Books like these generally over-sensationalize things,” current White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Monday.
“These are high-pressure jobs. There’s always a lot at stake. And the commitment the people show to the president, to the first lady, and to the causes that brought them here is fierce. And sometimes that intensity leads people to raise their voices or have sharp exchanges."
“But the overall picture is one of remarkable collegiality and a genuine focus.”
He maintained that the White House is "a remarkably harmonious place," despite "everything that’s at stake and the enormity of the issues that are discussed and debated here every day.”