Musings: The Barefoot PR Snafu

Last updated on March 30, 2011 by Liza Hawkins


I never thought Ina Garten, of all people, would be embroiled in a big controversy spanning online news giants Shine from Yahoo! and leading social media sites Barefoot Contessa Facebook wall.

Here’s the deal.
A six year old little boy with leukemia asked the Make a Wish foundation for a chance to cook with Ina Garten. Three different times, over three years. He watches her show with his mother from his sickbed as he courageously battles the non-fatal, but super serious disease. Barefoot Contessa gives him peace.
First time her answer was no.
Second time Ina’s schedule was too busy. Also a no.
Third time (after media caught wind), there were lots of apologies, which include the fact that Ina does (and has) worked with the Make a Wish foundation, and that she receives so many requests for things like this, she can’t possibly agree to them all. HOWEVER, yes, she has now invited this little boy to her studio for a chance to cook together.
But WOW. Self-proclaimed “faithful” Barefoot Contessa followers have turned on her. And I mean, they’re seethingly nasty on her Facebook wall. Almost as if Ina personally said, “THAT little boy? No way. I’d NEVER see him.” To them? She’s the devil incarnate.
C’mon people.
Even the boy’s mother, who happens to be a blogger and has written about this situation on her son’s blog, has said to leave Ina alone.
Some of the more logical posts on the Barefoot Contessa Facebook wall suggest that perhaps the request never made it past her PR reps, the ones that handle incoming requests for her time.
I believe that. Does anyone really think Ina handles her own schedule and fields every single request the comes in for her? Sure, her life in the Hamptons seems serene and über relaxing, but that’s television. It’s no wonder he and his mom had the dream to cook with Ina. I want to cook with Ina. In the Hamptons.
Anyway, it’s happening. Ina called the little boy. He’s going to come cook with her. In the studio (is that in the Hamptons?).
And the other wish they substituted for the little boy when Ina turned him down the first two times? Swimming with dolphins? That’s happening too. And he seems super excited about that, in a “sleeping in his bathing suit he’s so excited” kinda way.
What do you think?

Hi, I'm Liza — a self-proclaimed word-nerd who loves getting lost in whimsical stories and epic movies. I have laid-back, practical attitude towards life and am always on the hunt for good eats, easy recipes, binge-worthy shows, relaxing road trip destinations, the perfect fizzy gin cocktail, and time to finish my novel!

12 Comments on “Musings: The Barefoot PR Snafu

  1. People are just so quick to judge. Because you see a person on TV, doesn’t mean you know them or their true life. Like you said, Ina doesn’t handle her own schedule.

    People should leave her alone.

    Popped over here from Twitter. 🙂

  2. I’m with you. If she doesn’t work with MAW, then there’e no way his request got to her. I’m glad she stepped up, though. Also, people LOVE a good fight.

  3. Agreed! She probably hadn’t even received the request herself; in any case, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect her to be able to fulfill everyone’s wishes no matter how noble. It’s nice she’s making time for the boy, though – that alone should be enough for the critics! People just look for an excuse to be nasty

  4. As a Ph.D. student in communication, this has intrigued me, as I have seen numerous accounts on numerous blogs (with, of course, numerous versions of the story). I have noticed several things: (1) Some people have a deep-seated need to express anger at someone (it is cathartic), so will jump on bandwagons; and (2) That then makes it “okay” to personally attack things not germane to the topic, such as the anger target’s weight, ethnicity, relatives, and friends.

    It also shows that most people have no idea about the lives of celebrities, their time is not their own, most communication with them is through other people, etc.

  5. Gag. People are so incredibly naive. This lump gave me a serious case of the heebs the first time I saw her, and within 10 minutes, she’d convinced me she was a heartless snob who cared only for herself and her inner circle. Nobody is that ill-informed, and nobody is that busy. Anyone who believes otherwise is wearing “celebrity” blinders. (Let’s see if this comment gets published.)

  6. This unfortunate incident has only outed the cyber bullies who will not look at all of the facts. Thank you for your comment!!!!!

  7. It’s a trial by internet. It’s a no-win situation for the accused. Even if evidence surfaces that completely exonerates them later on, no one will remember or care, especially not the haters.

  8. First, I’d like to thank you for posting this blog entry, without resorting to hate speech and fat cracks. I don’t know why this request was turned down, but if Ina Garten was legitimately busy, then that doesn’t make her a cold hearted person. What if it turns out Ina Garten meets with 50 children with cancer each year and simply could not make any time with this little boy? How does this make her an “evil” person. I will continue to watch her show, cook her delicious recipes and buy her books. This is all getting so ridiculous.

  9. I love Ina’s show (and recipes) and hadn’t really been following all the controversy because I figured it was all a major overreaction to a scheduling issue. Upon reading your post, though, I clicked over to the Facebook page- I can’t believe how outrageous those posts are! The ‘Anonymous’ Ph.D. student is right- people’s comments are just over-the-top angry, and often are personal attacks on Ina that are totally unrelated the this specific incident.
    Thanks for offering a rational take on the controversy!

  10. Maybe you will want to get a twitter button to your blog. Just bookmarked the url, however I must do it manually. Just my suggestion.

  11. Thanks to you all for comments – good and bad!

    I love a discussion from all angles, and I’m not sure why I would delete a comment simply because it might not align directly with my own? That’s just my opinion though.

    @Anonymous (From 3/31) – what do you mean by a “Twitter button to your blog”?

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