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This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: The People vs Barefoot Contessa! (UPDATED)

March 26, 2011

photo credit: New York Times

The tabloid bottom feeding website TMZ ran a story with the provocative headline: “Celeb Chef — Too Busy for ‘Make-A-Wish’ Kid”:

M.A.W. approached Garten with the wish last year … but at the time, she was unable to meet with Enzo due to a book tour. The organization urged Enzo to pick another wish, but he told them he wanted to wait until she becomes available. We’re told the organization went back to Ina this year … but her team responded with a “definite no” … once again, citing scheduling conflicts. A member of Enzo’s family says the 6-year-old is heartbroken … and asked parents, “Why doesn’t she want to meet me?” When we called Make-A-Wish for comment on this story, they told us, “From time to time, planning for wishes doesn’t turn out as originally envisioned, despite people’s best intentions and efforts throughout the wish-granting process.” They noted that Ina is a “good friend” of the foundation.

There are two things that immediately jump out at me:

1) Who leaked the story to TMZ?
2) Why did Make-A-Wish verify it?

For those who don’t watch The Food Network, one of its cherished stars Ina Garten – a.k.a. The Barefoot Contessa, whose cooking show is a snotty blend of cliquishness and bland New England lockjaw inspired cuisine, allegedly denied a request for a “dying” boy – who by the way is sick (responding well to treatment), but not dying as the article purported – to cook a meal together.

What makes me REALLY sad is how the press has been writing and referring to Enzo as a “DYING” child or a “TERMINAL” child making his “LAST DYING WISH.” Just typing it makes my blood go cold. Enzo is NOT dying or terminal, he IS very sick but he is VERY MUCH alive and the most ALIVE person I have EVER known! He has two beautiful, sensitive, loving sisters who have been very private through out his treatments and I feel terrible that they had to see that OVER and OVER again. Can you imagine how that makes them feel?

(source – the mother’s blog updated 3/27/2011)

Those are the only “facts” you’ll find contained in any report of the alleged event. The rest of the articles on the situation are largely filled with speculation, unsubstantiated rumor and conjecture. A curious trend emerged among the chatter and the responses to the controversy: the idea that Garten is somehow obligated to fulfill the wish of ANYONE, simply because it has be requested.

Two things about me:

1) I’m not a cruel, heartless person.
2) I have volunteered with said organization

From what I remember about my brief stint stuffing envelopes and being an office jockey is how low the probability of fulfilling wish requests when a celebrity of any stature is involved. I also know that most chapters of the organization STRONGLY discourage those sorts of wishes because of their unlikelihood of being granted. Celebs ROUTINELY turn down requests to fulfill wishes and those who don’t bother with the courtesy of turning down the requests simply ignore them. That’s the nature of the nonprofit wish fulfillment business.

That throngs of keyboard warriors, fingers stained orange from cheetos, would seek to skewer Barefoot Contessa, frankly, was a bit disheartening to me. Personally, I find her show tedious, her recipes nasty looking and her persona grating. Nevertheless, I don’t believe ANYONE is under ANY obligation to fulfill wishes REGARDLESS of the circumstances. The reason is of no interest to me. Why women have to justify their NOs is really troubling and decidedly sexist. If this were a male celebrity/athlete his NO would be his NO. People might grumble a bit, but they certainly wouldn’t be taking to messageboards and comment sections armed with fatphobic, sexist and homophobic slurs decrying every person Garten has ever known simply because she was unable to honor this wish request. Garten doesn’t need a “good reason”; she doesn’t need a reason at all.

It’s unfortunate that the child in question, who it seems is perpetually six years old, was made aware of Garten’s decision, but that speaks to lapses in judgement by everyone involved on the Make-A-Wish end of things. After the first NO – which should have been the final word, by the way – the child should have redirected towards one of his alternate wishes. Women are not obligated to fulfill the needs of anyone who asks; neither are celebrities. Women are allowed to pick and choose which obligations they will undertake. And more importantly, it says nothing about the character or denotes a lack of it, if in some cases they choose to say NO.

By the way, the kid already has picked a more M.A.W grantable wish: he’s going to be swimming with dolphins!

UPDATE: FROM MOTHER’S BLOG REGARDING THE INCIDENT.

update is here

UPDATE: Mother pleads with us to stop with madness (that she started):

I had written about our disappointment when we originally found out, but asked everyone in the spirit of Enzo to please just “let it go” and move forward, as I know he has. I know this REALLY hit a strong cord with people, the outrage over this has been REALLY OVERWHELMING. There are so many articles, blogs, radio shows, even a Utube video about this. I want to make it VERY CLEAR we have NO ANGER OR ILL WILL toward Ina Garten. Enzo made his request and she declined, end of that story. As much as I know it has REALLY angered people, she has that right. Furthermore it is not our wish to hurt Ina Garten in anyway.

here it is

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172 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2011 1:06 pm

    I was sort of peripherally aware of this story but didn’t really pay attention, and your writeup here pretty much sums up my thoughts on it! I’m wondering what, exactly, the ‘story’ is here, given the undoubtedly large numbers of celebrity requests that get turned down.

    I do think there’s an interesting tie-in here with the fact that her shtick is as a celebrity chef; possibly an attitude that women chefs should be nurturing and mother-like, because they like food?

  2. March 26, 2011 1:12 pm

    Agreed. Also, so much of the ire is wrapped in hateful fatphobic, sexist rhetoric, which has largely gone unchallenged. Or the notion that women are by default drawn to children, even children they don’t know. I guess what hackled me was the idea that Garten’s own life must take a backseat to a child that she doesn’t even know. Proving once again that women’s lives are always to be viewed in the context of their relationships to others.

  3. evmaroon permalink
    March 26, 2011 1:13 pm

    She already feeds a kid every day, in the way of her husband, Jeffrey. I do admit that I have a few of her cookbooks and like a lot of her recipes, if not her actual show. And I wonder why this refusal of the many has gone viral. I posted a link to the TMZ story on my Facebook page and wow, people were unbridled in their pissed-ness. Someone even wished cancer on her! That’s so far over the line I can’t even see the line anymore. My first thought was that it sounded rude of her, but you’ve framed it here in a way that it makes much more sense, so thanks.

  4. March 26, 2011 1:24 pm

    Yes, poking around at the responses to this has been really appalling. Apparently women must at all times subsume their identities to the needs and wishes (so to speak) of others.

  5. March 26, 2011 1:31 pm

    Some of my favorite came from a Disneyfan messageboard. A few voices of reason in a sea of folks treating “getting a clue” like an E ticket ride and they’d run out of E tickets. Okay, I just totally dated myself.

  6. March 26, 2011 1:54 pm

    It sucks when people using a difficult situation to guilt trip folks into owing them something….and shame on TMZ for giving it a platform and encouraging it, probably forcing some sort of public relations obligatory response and setting a potential precedent that will further strain the organization.

  7. March 26, 2011 3:50 pm

    Some of the blog entries talk about a “dying boy’s wish.” Um, if the request was made 3 years ago and he’s now taking swimming lessons, it doesn’t sound like he’s dying.

  8. March 26, 2011 4:02 pm

    from the mom’s blog;

    I would be lying if I said that I don’t find this to be shocking. To know that out of EVERY THING (material Enzo could choose to have), or ANY PLACE (in the world Enzo could travel to) and out of EVERY PERSON on this earth he chose Ina, and she cannot see what an honor that is. And he wanted to actually be with her for NO reason other then to have her company and cook with her. I actually feel badly for her because Enzo has NOTHING but pure love and intensions and she will never get to have that experience with him and she is missing out on something so authentic and beautiful.

    creepy and borderline stalkerish, imo. Also smacks of some unchecked entitlement.

  9. March 26, 2011 4:05 pm

    Maybe it is a great honor, but how many of such “great honors” can one person satisfy? You’re right, it does sound borderline stalkerish.

  10. evmaroon permalink
    March 26, 2011 4:21 pm

    But Redlami, every day we live we are closer to death.

  11. marlene permalink
    March 26, 2011 6:49 pm

    Kudos. I saw this pop up on TMZ yesterday (I know…it’s a guilty pleasure) and my first thought was “so what?” It was creepy beyond belief that the parents of this kid felt the need to drag it into the spotlight. Then I started thinking about how weird it was that a 6 year old liked Ina Garten. It’s been bizarre watching the vandalism of her Wikipedia page and whatnot, so I was happy to find something on the internet that didn’t immediately vilify her. Whether you’re a fan or not, she doesn’t deserve it, especially with such spotty details coming out (the kids age, whether or not he’s dying, etc).

    More so than a sexist thing, I think this incident serves to highlight the crazy sense of entitlement that rampant among the population. I’m all for giving and contributing to charity and other community groups; I myself do it frequently, and while it genuinely sucks that this kid is sick, publicly raking someone over the coals because they didn’t want to participate in something you’ve asked for does nothing to elevate society or encourage good will.

  12. March 26, 2011 6:59 pm

    @marlene – Exactly. This smacks of misplaced anger, frustration and possibly the parents not getting the supports they need as caregivers. Sadly, though I fear backlash is en route.

  13. Stacee permalink
    March 26, 2011 7:09 pm

    Regardless of my opinions on this matter, minimizing this boy’s plight due to that fact that he’s survived for three years, is sick. Leukemia is notoriously hard to treat and this little boy has been suffering with it for half of his life. Show some respect.

  14. March 26, 2011 7:14 pm

    This passage from the mother’s blog gave me the icks. It sounds like M.A.W. is complicit in the whole ire at Garten, but MAW hasn’t indicated they share the mother’s view:

    I am quite sure if you are reading this you are the kind of person who would understand what a tremendous honor it would be to have a child choose you for their M.A.W. I am honored knowing you care enough to read about my child and what he has been going through. Our family is TRULY blessed in EVERYWAY and I want to thank you again for all your love, passion, support (and cookbook bonfires that took place the past 24 hrs) HA! If you know me, you know I HAD to crack a joke!!! If all else fails… LAUGH!!!!

  15. March 26, 2011 7:28 pm

    Regardless of my opinions on this matter, minimizing this boy’s plight due to that fact that he’s survived for three years, is sick. Leukemia is notoriously hard to treat and this little boy has been suffering with it for half of his life. Show some respect.

    Show me where I’m minimizing. Again, this has nothing to do with the child’s illness, but the sense of entitlement and poor judgment displayed by the parents via their selling their story to TMZ and ranting about Garten on their public blog. Being ill is challenging and difficult for the parties involved. That said, it doesn’t entitle anyone the right to another’s time and resources. check yourself.

  16. steve permalink
    March 26, 2011 7:29 pm

    What is wrong with all of you people?? This has nothing to do with the gender of Ina, and it has nothing to do with how bad the kid’s illness is. She said no to a 6 year old with cancer. Twice. You absolutely need a good reason for why you can’t spend an hour of your time to cook a meal with the kid, it comes with the territory of being a public figure. And everyone who reads the story has every right to make judgements about her character based on this action.

    TMZ reached out to her for comment and the best her people could come up with was that she was busy and it was impossible to fulfill every request. She knew it would go public and gave a flat out “No” anyway. What a disgusting, disgusting person.

  17. March 26, 2011 7:32 pm

    You absolutely need a good reason for why you can’t spend an hour of your time to cook a meal with the kid, it comes with the territory of being a public figure. And everyone who reads the story has every right to make judgements about her character based on this action.

    Actually, she does have a good reason; she didn’t want to do it. Now, if I were you, Steve, I’ll take some of that keyboard rage and do something productive like DONATE MONEY to the family. Otherwise, you’re just as bad as you feel Ina is. See how that works? Thanks for your comment.

  18. March 26, 2011 7:34 pm

    Generosity comes from the heart and is to be rewarded, not extorted. I feel for his parents but I think they should be more realistic about what they can provide, and help Enzo to move on rather than fixate on what they can’t make happen for him.

  19. steve permalink
    March 26, 2011 7:46 pm

    That’s what you don’t get, is that no amount of money I donate can make Enzo as happy as Ina can by spending a few minutes with him. To say I’m as bad as her when I don’t have the same power to change the kid’s life like she can is just absurd.

    And to suggest that someone can say “I refuse to spend any time with a 6-year old cancer patient who’s only wish in life is to spend time with me….because I don’t want to” without me judging their character “or lack of it” is also absurd.

  20. March 26, 2011 7:49 pm

    So you’re not going to donate money to the family, Steve? Okay, you’re a cheap shit talker, Steve. Got it. Thanks for proving my point. Good luck next year at the “don’t have a clue” awards; you’re a shoe in.

  21. Dee permalink
    March 26, 2011 7:50 pm

    The lynch mob mentality is what has struck me the most..especially the facebook and twitter groups ready to boycott/burn and harass Ina Garten with words they would never say in their own mother’s company. TMZ had the upper hand in placing a photo of the cherubic child for empathy to which was probably a generic request to Garten’s schedulers. It seems from the mother’s blog she is delighted about the cookbook bonfires. This will not help the MAW foundation in the future. What celebrity would want to endure anything like this? To those that think anyone should be bullied into donating time or money for any cause or charity …you can go to Enzo’s blog and donate money to the handy link they have…

  22. March 26, 2011 7:55 pm

    This will not help the MAW foundation in the future. What celebrity would want to endure anything like this?

    @Dee, I was thinking along similar lines: who gets to decide how much generosity is enough?

  23. marlene permalink
    March 26, 2011 7:56 pm

    @ Snarky’s Machine: This is just my opinion mind you, but I find the family’s blog and going public with the MAW thing creepy on a number of levels, the least of which is how willing everyone is to put the most personal aspects of their lives on the internet. I keep a personal blog, and it’s been therapeutic for me, but this woman’s blog, coupled with her public solicitations for money, push my personal boundaries into the fifth dimension. In fact, her PayPal account has to make rational individuals wonder if she went after Garten in the press (if you can even call TMZ that) to milk a few bucks out of people.

    I’ll add as a disclaimer that the minute you put your life on the internet for people to comment on, you open yourself up to dissenting opinions. It’s the same thing I’ve been telling my cousin who’s launched a safe bicycling campaign in NYC every time someone gives her a negative comment. If this woman doesn’t want to be accused of using her son, she should have made a private blog.

  24. March 26, 2011 8:00 pm

    This is just my opinion mind you, but I find the family’s blog and going public with the MAW thing creepy on a number of levels, the least of which is how willing everyone is to put the most personal aspects of their lives on the internet. I keep a personal blog, and it’s been therapeutic for me, but this woman’s blog, coupled with her public solicitations for money, push my personal boundaries into the fifth dimension. In fact, her PayPal account has to make rational individuals wonder if she went after Garten in the press (if you can even call TMZ that) to milk a few bucks out of people.

    @marlene, oooh, that’s such a great perspective I hadn’t considered. That is something else to be factored in. As much as i hate to be that cynical, money often plays a large role in these kinds of celebrity ambush situations.

  25. AnthroK8 permalink
    March 26, 2011 8:07 pm

    Oh boy. Mom’s blog sounds like a woman in need of some assistance. Hello stressed out sounding lady. I hope you are getting support from appropriate people.

    But not from BFC, because the woman said no and hi, she said no. Politely declined requests are part of life, even during rough times. And helping your kid learn that, even when things are tough, is a hard thing parents have to do sometimes. This is not Ina G’s fault.

    The tone of the comments is really nasty. Yuck.

  26. marlene permalink
    March 26, 2011 8:13 pm

    @Snarky’s Machine: The internet has made skeptics and cynics of us all, due to the plethora of easily accessible, honest to goodness true stories of bad bad people taking advantage of other’s good will. Anyone remember Anthony Godby Johnson? Now, I’m not accusing this kid of being nonexistent, just that any parent with something as horrific to deal with as an ill child that wastes time vilifying a celebrity chef is either, as you said, suffering from a poor support structure or has ulterior motives.

  27. AnthroK8 permalink
    March 26, 2011 8:20 pm

    So, I did research with political refugees in not-the-US, and one common thread you’d hear from support service people was GOD THEY ARE SO DEMANDING WTF. And yeah, they were. But. It was very often because:

    1) they really needed things to which they weren’t entitled, and had a hell of a time getting.

    2) they were entitled to things that were made very hard to get through regular channels.

    3) man, were they stressed out.

    So essentially the system was forcing them to be a be a “problem.” I mean, we are talking trauma counseling help needs and legal representation here. Making them a “problem” was deliberate, and trod the line of human rights violations.

    So anyway. This “give my kid a thing tone” has that desperate demanding feeling to it. But about something to which no one is entitled, and that is fully discretionary.

    The dissonance. It is acute.

  28. AnthroK8 permalink
    March 26, 2011 8:25 pm

    Edit: SOME support people (and some lay persons and media outlets) had that attitude. Not all, obviously. Many many many never said that, or mentioned it but only as a part of the whole picture.

  29. Laurence Ballard permalink
    March 26, 2011 8:34 pm

    @steve

    Bullshit. Celebrities owe non-celebrities like the rest of us nothing. Zip. Nada. This story has been Drudged and TMZed and now the Anonymous Chattering Commentariat have their collective panties all twisted in knots.

  30. anthony permalink
    March 26, 2011 8:39 pm

    This is the first website I have read on this subject that is not castigating Ina and wishing her and her husband every terrible thing to befall them. I am so disgusted with the mentality of the people commenting on this story and TMZ for starting this in the first place. There are some seriously deranged people posting and TMZ is fanning the flames.

  31. dareia permalink
    March 26, 2011 9:07 pm

    This whole thing is sad :(

    – Even if Ina did have “free time,” she certainly wasn’t obligated to fulfill this wish (though I still think it would have been nice if she did.) She does not deserve this kind of public flogging.

    – Even if people think that Ina’s refusal was mean, cold, heartless, etc., why attack her personally? Why bring her appearance or friends into this?

    – I don’t know exactly why, but the mom’s blog makes me really uncomfortable.

    – Why the hell was ANY of this made public??

    I feel so badly for the kid. If he is as sweet, sensitive, and compassionate as his mother says he is, I wonder how he felt knowing that people were burning his supposed idol’s cookbooks in bonfires (if people are seriously doing that)? … I that highly doubt that he is enjoying any of this drama :(

  32. dareia permalink
    March 26, 2011 9:09 pm

    * I seriously doubt that he is enjoying any of this drama. (Sorry for the typos).

  33. MoonMD permalink
    March 26, 2011 10:36 pm

    As an oncologist, I can tell you this child has 96+% chance of cure. Which is not to say the journey through chemotherapy is not hard and frightening for any family. The label of “dying child” is not appropriate, it is only accurate if each and everyone of us consider ourselves to be a “dying human being”

    As someone who has worked with MAW on several occasions, I find the organization to provide valuable distraction for my patients and their families. This is a mis-step on their part, I’m afraid the more vitrol Ina gets, the less likely any celebrity will want to be involved. An implict understanding exist between any celebrity/charity relationship — they exist to make eachother look good.

  34. March 26, 2011 11:07 pm

    Here’s an interesting comment regarding Make-a-Wish from someone who has been to one of its events.

  35. RightFace! permalink
    March 26, 2011 11:43 pm

    YES! Finally someone speaks with some sense on this issue. My first thought when I heard this tempest in a teapot was “So what?” Why does anyone have an obligation to fulfill anyone else’s wish? Whether this is dying or not, he has no right to one second of Mrs. Garten’s time and none of us have any right to comment or speculate on her refusal. Her privacy is as sacred as anyone’s!

  36. Brian permalink
    March 26, 2011 11:46 pm

    I am beyond irritated at absurd number of people making even more absurdly negative comments about Ina. I tried to have a reasonable and polite conversation with a so-called friend on Facebook about this topic, after he labeled Ina “trash,” “disgusting,” and “a disgrace to human beings.” I was told to go screw myself and I was quickly unfriended. I’m certainly feeling no loss on my part. I don’t need that kind of negativity and senseless anger in my life.

    Most of the comments on every related news story I’ve ready have been nasty, childish, and frankly evil to the core. People are wishing that Ina get cancer, her husband get cancer, her parents get cancer, her dog get cancer, all of the above, and much more. The fat insults, the “replace the O in Contessa with a U” insults, and the hope that she suffers a huge tragedy are incredibly sick and ironic — especially since these people are bashing her because they perceive a lack of compassion on Ina’s part.

    How many of these people are donating to MAW? More importantly (holding them to the same standards to which they hold Ina), how many of these people are donating time, skipping work, and putting their own families on the back burner for the MAW? I’m sure the Foundation could use volunteers.

    Ina has a great reputation as a kind and charitable person. I admire her on so many different levels. Whether she says yes or no and regardless of her reasons for either answer, it’s really no one’s business but her own. I hope this mess blows over without harming Ina emotionally, financially, or otherwise. I also hope this sick child finds healing and that guilty parties wake up and stop using him as a pawn for their own agendas.

  37. March 27, 2011 1:51 am

    Ugh, I regret clicking on that mother’s blog post, it wasn’t even freshly-pressed worthy.

  38. JAG permalink
    March 27, 2011 2:15 am

    If she can’t meet this particular kid, that’s fine. It seems a little bizarre to me. Usually I don’t get my wishes, sick or not, so I don’t see why they’re harping on this lady. I have no idea who any of these people are, the cook included, but it’s up to her if she has the time.

  39. March 27, 2011 7:53 am

    Love this! I read some of the “articles” about this incident and was disturbed by the responses from people.

  40. March 27, 2011 9:22 am

    I’m so glad this family spoke up so that now NO celebrity will ever associate with MAW for fear of being strung up. Thanks for ruining it for everyone else!

    I also looooove when people call us names for not being ‘compassionate’. Um, yelling at and judging strangers on the internet is not helping anyone with any disease feel better.

  41. sroz permalink
    March 27, 2011 9:47 am

    The real tragedy is what this mom is doing to her own son. This isn’t about ‘kid wants to go to Disneyland, we’ll have to ask for charity to cover that expense’. This is about telling your son that other people’s needs don’t matter, in fact, that no one else’s needs or desires are as important as your own. What a great lesson.

    Oh, and also, she’s an emotionaly manipulative liar:

    “Our family is TRULY blessed in EVERYWAY”

    Yeah, somehow, I’m not believing that. People who truly feel blessed in EVERYWAY!!1! are also ‘blessed’ with a bit of humility. They tend to count their blessing, not tote up their grudges. They certainly don’t conduct public smear campaigns to chastize and humiliate people, or ruin another person’s carreer.

    I have no idea who the barefoot contessa is, but if she even knew about these requests (it’s possible this all went through her agent or manager), I find I have more respect for her than for Enzo’s mom, who is teaching her child that emotionally bullying people is a good thing.

  42. March 27, 2011 11:01 am

    I wonder if all of these people so outraged in our spam queue have bothered to make a donation to the family to show Ina how caring people behave in such situations. Of course not; they’re too busy writing grammatically incorrect rants about us and somehow finding a way to make it about Obama. Wait, what?

    From our comment policy:

    All initial comments are held in moderation, pending approval. Once we determine you are not an assclown your comment will be made visible and the world will feast on your brilliance.

    Comments containing racist, sizeist, sexist, ableist, transphobic, homophobic, classist or any other -ism not list here will be deleted. Constructive debates are welcome, but ad hominem attacks are NOT. Lots of sites might talk this talk, but we actually mean it. Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to be witty, profound and thought provoking without using problematic language or trollish tactics. However, if you are unable to resist use of such language your comment will not appear and you will be banned from commenting.

  43. March 27, 2011 11:48 am

    sroz, I too find it deeply disturbing to look at the way this woman is using her son for leverage. I have a lot of unease about situations where people are blogging/talking about people who may not be able to consent or may not fully realise the ramifications of that consent. This woman’s airing the family’s dirty laundry in a very petulant way, and I don’t really like having to witness it.

  44. evmaroon permalink
    March 27, 2011 11:53 am

    There is a strange way in which we’re all watching a public fight between two women, one of whom has a publicist. The ease with which folks devolve into misogynist, angry rhetoric is kind of astounding. “Ina’s such a complete b*tch!” “That mother is fucking crazy!” Maybe Ina is allowed to have her life be her life, and the mother is allowed to communicate about her feelings, even if we don’t like Ina’s choice or the mother’s tone. And just maybe none of it is really our business. Thanks, TMZ, for derailing so many people’s weekends!

  45. March 27, 2011 12:16 pm

    I don’t think it is about the “tone” of the mother, but a very bizarre collection of blog posts, many of which involve attempting to extort a celebrity. Moreover this entire debacle has very real world implications for those of us who do nonprofit fundraising, because if we can’t get sign-on from public figures because they are afraid of having what happened to Ina happen to them then we have severely hampered one of our chief ways of soliciting donations. Make-a-Wish is actually the biggest loser in this whole thing.

  46. March 27, 2011 12:19 pm

    This is the first website I have read on this subject that is not castigating Ina and wishing her and her husband every terrible thing to befall them.

    @anthony: NEVER READ THE COMMENTS….except at Fry Butter. Your reasonable levels must be this high to enter the ride.

    Also, I can’t resist dedicating this one to the trolls.

  47. March 27, 2011 12:20 pm

    @Everett, I don’t think TMZ is to blame, they’re bottom feeders and there will always be stuff at the bottom to feed on.

    From a pop culture perspective I think it’s very important to address the whole idea of what do celebrities “owe” their public.

  48. Brian permalink
    March 27, 2011 12:26 pm

    I think everyone is to blame. First MAW and Ina need to address some confusions/lack of information. First, what does MAW mean when they say Ina is a friend to MAW? It most likely means she contributes money, but has she granted visits before? If so, is she no longer? Secondly, out of my own ignorance, are celebrity visits a general category kids get to choose or is Ina’s name on the list of activities? Someone needs to clear this up as well.

    Ina has a PR person or department for a reason and there is no better time than to utilize those people because her image is taking a hit right now. Finally, the family was told that celebrity visits have a very low probability of success. So you were turned down, get over it and move on. To me it is like getting upset because the kid can’t take a trip to the moon! Forget it, its not going to happen! The parents need to explain these realities to the kid, regardless of the illness. My kids would love to visit their media favorites, but I am not going to have a media blitz because it doesn’t happen. And celebrities will not give in to that form of pressure, because then everyone will be doing it.

    When there is confusion or limited facts, it is only human nature to fill in those gaps and form our own opinions. We all do it. For those that are wishing pain and suffering on anyone involved, you have a lot of hate built up in you and need help!

  49. March 27, 2011 12:33 pm

    @Brian: The only thing I disagree with the idea that Ina (or more accurately, her publicist) is to blame – just because she/they could have prevented this debacle in hindsight doesn’t make her at fault in the beginning of the scenario.

  50. March 27, 2011 12:34 pm

    I think everyone is to blame. First MAW and Ina need to address some confusions/lack of information. First, what does MAW mean when they say Ina is a friend to MAW? It most likely means she contributes money, but has she granted visits before? If so, is she no longer? Secondly, out of my own ignorance, are celebrity visits a general category kids get to choose or is Ina’s name on the list of activities? Someone needs to clear this up as well.

    Agreed with one caveat: I think at this point, only MAW needs to explain why they didn’t keep to their confidential pledge to celebs involved with the organization and clarify why a disappointed parent is allowed to speak publicly. there are some rules with regard to disclosure both the mother and MAW have broken.

    Personally, I think it’s klassy that Ina hasn’t spoken out personally. To do so would just suggest that it’s okay for people to use TMZ to extort attention and time from celebs when their ‘polite” requests are initially denied.

  51. Jillamina permalink
    March 27, 2011 12:34 pm

    I wonder what percentage of MAW requests involving celebrities are turned down. I’d love to know how many times Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber have said no to MAW!

  52. March 27, 2011 12:35 pm

    redlami, I think, as discussed above as well, that there are some interesting gendering things going on with what people think celebrities ‘owe’ members of the public and their fans.

    I’m also not clear on how MAW participation works; can people ask for anything and the organisation tries to make it happen, or do people receive an approved list? It seems like if it’s the former, there should be a built in understanding that it may not be possible to grant the wish.

  53. March 27, 2011 12:35 pm

    I’m going to do my part by sending Ina Garten a letter (ok, probably email) of support, just to balance out the hate mail she’s receiving. This could ruin her career!

  54. March 27, 2011 12:36 pm

    I’m with on this one, Snarky; Ina is under no requirement to have participated in the first place, or to comment on the debacle now that it’s happening. I notice that whenever situations like this blow up, critics say that celebs (and their social media teams) should do ‘damage control’ even though the situation often isn’t the fault of the celeb. Why is the onus on the celeb to make nice, here?

  55. March 27, 2011 12:39 pm

    I wonder what percentage of MAW requests involving celebrities are turned down. I’d love to know how many times Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber have said no to MAW!

    In my brief tenure 100% (70% ignored requests outright; 30% sent polite declines along with some useless swag or autographed picture). The families were usually quickly redirected to their other and often more realistic wish and everyone went on about their business. pretty sure there are some non disclosure agreements involved. I know I couldn’t reveal specific names. Of course since this mom did, I guess there’s nothing stopping me from doing so either :)

  56. March 27, 2011 12:40 pm

    @s.e., yes. I wonder if the ire would be so intense if, say, and NBA player couldn’t meet with a kid.

    Looking at MAW’s website, particularly their celebrity spotlight, I get the impression that celebs who do decide to grant a wish carefully pick the situation — in other words, go for quality and not quantity of appearances, to maximize the benefit to their careers. I can’t really fault Ina if she decided, for whatever reasons, not to pick this one.

    Also, even the mom admits that they discouraged the celeb wish, and tried really hard to steer the child to another choice. Ina’s people apparently gave a “soft” no initially, and then a firmer “no” and the mother kept on.

  57. evmaroon permalink
    March 27, 2011 12:48 pm

    My point is that the sexism is going both ways, or rather, toward both people involved in this mess. People who have taken up one side or the other have felt free to demonize both of these women, and that’s pretty discouraging to me and indicative of a lot of things that have gone wrong in our capacity to have public conversations or debate. In the large frame of celebrities doing acts of philanthropy, the majority of them have public service events and donations in their schedules and budgets, as I’m sure Ina does, too. But we love to focus on the rejections, the arrests, the rehab check-ins instead. And part of my wonders if our trying economic times have any role in the angry response to this story. Because one undercurrent here is a have/have not, class issue here.

  58. evmaroon permalink
    March 27, 2011 12:51 pm

    @s.e., they just had that scenario on Hawthorne last week, where a kid with cancer wanted to meet with his favorite NBA player. When another player showed up to talk about basketball, the kid was rude and pissed off. I wasn’t sure what statement the writers were going for…

  59. March 27, 2011 12:52 pm

    Once celebs have given the audience entertainment consumables in exchange for the audience’s money that pretty much concludes the transaction. Leaving no balance on the account. therefore nobody is “owed” anything.

  60. brent Clarke permalink
    March 27, 2011 1:07 pm

    Ina is a seemingly pleasant person and a good cook. She apparently does alot for charity. Enzo got another, more appropriate wish. can we move on now?

  61. March 27, 2011 1:08 pm

    Once celebs have given the audience entertainment consumables in exchange for the audience’s money that pretty much concludes the transaction. Leaving no balance on the account. therefore nobody is “owed” anything.

    Amen. It’s Sunday and I feel like I’m in church!!

  62. m. leblanc permalink
    March 27, 2011 1:19 pm

    I think y’all are being a bit too hard on the mom. I read her blog. It’s over the top, but you know, she’s been living with a sick kid for years, she desperately wants to make her kid happy. Living with an illness for a long time like that does fucked-up things to your mind. I cut her a break. I don’t know that she’s really done anything wrong by posting about it on her blog (unless she’s violating some kind of non-disclosure agreement, but even then that’s a legal fiction of wrongness, not doing something actually wrong). Make-a-wish is the one who is stupidly commenting on it and validating, when they very well know that celebrities do this all the time. It’s a serious misstep by their PR people and is going to hurt them.

    But the people who are the most to blame in this whole debacle are all the people who are so ready to make sexist, sizeist, horrific comments about Garten and jump right in to the fray of telling her how horrible a person she is. People do love to judge, don’t they? ‘Specially when it’s a woman.

    This brouhaha is sexism from beginning to end. And also people’s ridiculous marriage to the image of celebrities as “good” people if they play one on tv. The harder you have to try to be accepted, the more you’ll be judged when you committ some perceived failure. Could you just imagine if Ina Garten was black?

    I think there’s another sexism angle here. I think this group of women who has become famous by being on tv cooking, selling cookbooks, are subject to particularly nasty form of vitriol because of a seething public resentment that women are getting famous for the thing that they are supposed to do for free for their families because they love them. I know that sounds cynical, but find me a female celebrity chef that doesn’t get nasty, nasty things said about her in almost any milieu when she’s brought up? It’s the same kind of vitriol that’s leveled at the mommy-bloggers. How dare you get rich of something you should do for free out of selfless maternal gratitude?

  63. FransSusan permalink
    March 27, 2011 1:23 pm

    The Make-a-Wish Foundation is just cheesy.

  64. March 27, 2011 1:29 pm

    I think y’all are being a bit too hard on the mom. I read her blog. It’s over the top, but you know, she’s been living with a sick kid for years, she desperately wants to make her kid happy. Living with an illness for a long time like that does fucked-up things to your mind. I cut her a break. I don’t know that she’s really done anything wrong by posting about it on her blog (unless she’s violating some kind of non-disclosure agreement, but even then that’s a legal fiction of wrongness, not doing something actually wrong). Make-a-wish is the one who is stupidly commenting on it and validating, when they very well know that celebrities do this all the time. It’s a serious misstep by their PR people and is going to hurt them.

    We disagree about the mom, but then we’re free to do that, aren’t we?

  65. March 27, 2011 1:30 pm

    I think y’all are being a bit too hard on the mom.

    Really? I thought the main objections were being raised here about MAW and the angry lynch mob.

  66. March 27, 2011 1:32 pm

    The harder you have to try to be accepted, the more you’ll be judged when you committ some perceived failure. Could you just imagine if Ina Garten was black?

    Are there black female chefs on television. Don’t really need to bring a phantom black person into the mix in order to ensure people get how problematic this is. I did a pretty good job demonstrating how problematic it was.

  67. marlene permalink
    March 27, 2011 1:34 pm

    I think evmaroon hit the nail on the head here; in addition to the typical sexism at play, a chunk of the backlash may be the haves vs the have-nots which is always exacerbated during tough economic times. When you’re down on your luck, a part of you wants to believe that there must be something inherently evil about the woman living it up in the Hamptons, and turning down MAWF, even though it happens every day, is a great example of a flawed character.

    It’s also just the phenomena of the internet that immediately upon reading a story we personalize it. Or dehumanize. Either way, it’s what makes people feel no compunction about calling a stranger a c*nt, or in my case, accusing a woman writing a blog of ulterior motives.

  68. March 27, 2011 1:35 pm

    @m. leblanc — While I agree that there’s a sexism component, I think the main issue here is the entitlement that some people (not necessarily the family) feel about controlling the private lives of the celebrities whose public lives we’re already consuming.

  69. March 27, 2011 1:36 pm

    Don’t really need to bring a phantom black person into the mix in order to ensure people get how problematic this is

    LOL

  70. March 27, 2011 1:43 pm

    All jokes or assumptions aside about the mom’s motives, I don’t need to know them to see how the actions have played out with ill effects.

    I have compassion for the mom’s situation and I can think she is NOT acting in a compassionate way. I can see what might make her not act in a compassionate way, but that doesn’t make the actions change.

  71. evmaroon permalink
    March 27, 2011 1:45 pm

    I’ll just point out that there is Gina Neely on the Food Network…

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/down-home-with-the-neelys/index.html

  72. evmaroon permalink
    March 27, 2011 1:46 pm

    But yeah, this debacle is problematic all on its own!

  73. March 27, 2011 1:47 pm

    All jokes or assumptions aside about the mom’s motives, I don’t need to know them to see how the actions have played out with ill effects.

    Agreed. The story was sold to TMZ! Are we now to assume benevolence on the part of people who sell stories to TMZ?

  74. March 27, 2011 1:48 pm

    Oooh, be still! Thanks, Ev. That show actually looks fun. Are the recipes any good?

  75. March 27, 2011 1:48 pm

    so….half of a celebrity chef couple. I mean, I have watched that show before, I did like the Neelys, nothing personal to them, more just sad about Food Network.

  76. gina permalink
    March 27, 2011 1:58 pm

    I agree that Ina had n0 obligation to say yes just because the child is sick… and the fact that this made it to the media due to the mothers intense rage tells me that the “wish” was the mothers and not the child.

  77. evmaroon permalink
    March 27, 2011 2:10 pm

    I think some of their recipes are good, Snarky! They’re just a little too jolly as they’re explaining everything. I’ve made some of their stuff…ribs, an asparagus pasta salad, and some applewood smoked chicken. Hmm, now I’m hungry.

  78. Christina permalink
    March 27, 2011 2:13 pm

    One remark I read said that maybe Ina never even KNEW about this request. THAT got me to thinking, what if that WERE true? What if she didn’t know? If thats the case, then I owe her an apology which I will send to her. Chances are she never reads her emails anyway, but I will send one none the less. I doubt she will read my first one that was none too kind, however, emotions get high when it comes to a sick child and a wish like his that was seemingly blown off with no feeling of how the poor child would take it.

    I also agree that celebrities and the like are in no way obligated to their fans to meet them or help them out in whatever the situation may be, as that is a totally unreasonable request. However, when a child is involved the answer NO is hard to swallow and all hell breaks loose when that happens. I really do feel sorry for her having people wish horrible things on her and her family. That kind of mentality is totally uncalled for. I don’t wish her ill will, and I really would NOT want to be her right now. Its time I start to rethink some things in this life….I think I was in the wrong.

  79. March 27, 2011 2:19 pm

    However, when a child is involved the answer NO is hard to swallow and all hell breaks loose when that happens.

    @Christina, good point. As a parent, I know how difficult saying “no” can be under the best of circumstances, let alone when a kid is sick.

  80. March 27, 2011 2:31 pm

    @Christina: I appreciate you writing that. It’s hard when the internet pushes our buttons, especially about issues close to our hearts, and at times like this, it makes you appreciate what editorial walls are supposed to be – a buffer to help lay out the facts on all sides and see what is really the full story. Instead you have a site like TMZ who is pushing all those buttons intentionally, twistedly, to get people upset and talking, for the sake of gossipy controversy that gets them more hits and attention. I almost wish Snarky’s Machine didn’t link to them directly to give more, though I know we are just following a standard good practice of always citing our sources.

  81. Rusty permalink
    March 27, 2011 3:21 pm

    Are there black female chefs on television.

    Yes. Gina Neely and Sunny Anderson, to name two. They both have their own shows on Food Network.

    Anyway, I just have trouble believing this “meet and cook with Ina” wish is something the kid himself came up with, when he was only three years old. Sure, he watched the show with his mom, but it seems really odd that he would be obsessed with such a low key chef as Ina, as opposed to, say, someone a little more frenetic like Emeril, or one of the Iron Chefs, if his mother didn’t have an obsession with Ina.

    Most parents don’t even allow a three year old to do more than watch them in the kitchen; at six, they might be allowed to stir in flour or add chocolate chips to cookie batter. I really think the mother expected to be able to cook with Ina, while her son puttered around as little more than a stage prop. Maybe I’m being too cynical, but the mother’s blog raises some yellow, if not red, flags.

  82. Lauren permalink
    March 27, 2011 6:46 pm

    First off, I want to disclose that I am a huge Ina fan. Second, well said. I think Enzo’s parents are jerks for essentially trying to blackmail Ina Garten. MAW should not put up that sort of behavior from families – it is a celeb’s prerogative if they want to be involved or not. It takes a special demeanor to work with sick children and it is possible that she is extremely uncomfortable with the circumstances. I realize how helpless and out-of-control the parents feel with Enzo’s disease, but being nasty because this did not work out as they wanted it to is beyond immature and only sullies the MAW organization.

  83. March 27, 2011 6:59 pm

    It takes a special demeanor to work with sick children and it is possible that she is extremely uncomfortable with the circumstances.

    We don’t know that and conjecture about her reasons goes against the spirit of the post. The point of the post is Garten’s no is all the “reason” anybody needs. You don’t have to uncomfortable with sick children not to want to extend your time to a chairty.

  84. Just Hanging Around permalink
    March 27, 2011 7:24 pm

    i’ve seen some posts here who can’t figure out why the Mom’s posts make them uncomfortable. i’m uncomfortable that she can post as she wants, but readers cannot comment on her site. so SHE can say anything that she wants about Ina Garten, but no one can comment on what Mommy says.

    guess what, Mommy. you can request, through Make a Wish. you cannot DEMAND, through Make a Wish that Ina Garten must rearrange her life if she simply doesn’t have the time to do so. i’m sure your son will be more than happy with his alternative wish. and you’re not coming across too well by trashing Ina on your page.

  85. March 27, 2011 7:39 pm

    @JustHangingAround, something else I find troubling about the mom’s blog is that they are taking donations via PayPal, but there’s no indication anywhere on the site that they actually need this money. Maybe they do, I know medical and related expenses can add up, but still… there ought to be some disclosure.

  86. Rusty permalink
    March 27, 2011 7:50 pm

    Agreed. Ms. Garten does not owe the child’s family a command performance; nor does she owe them, or anybody else, an explanation for her decision.

    It bothers me that the mother wrote in her blog that her son asked her why Ina “doesn’t want to meet me.” What kind of parent tells her six year old that?

  87. March 27, 2011 7:54 pm

    So now she wants to “stop the madness.” What did she think would happen when she said things like this (empasis mine):

    I am quite sure if you are reading this you are the kind of person who would understand what a tremendous honor it would be to have a child choose you for their M.A.W. I am honored knowing you care enough to read about my child and what he has been going through. Our family is TRULY blessed in EVERYWAY and I want to thank you again for all your love, passion, support (and cookbook bonfires that took place the past 24 hrs) HA! If you know me, you know I HAD to crack a joke!!! If all else fails… LAUGH!!!!

    Haha, just kidding, you can put those torches and pitchforks away now.

  88. March 27, 2011 7:56 pm

    I wonder when lawyers are gonna start stepping up to the mic. We haven’t had any lawyers yet.

  89. Dee permalink
    March 27, 2011 8:55 pm

    JHA there is a “contact us” option on the mother’s web blog.

  90. March 27, 2011 9:01 pm

    JHA there is a “contact us” option on the mother’s web blog.

    @Dee, this is true, but that’s not the same as allowing comments, which her blog decidedly doesn’t allow.

  91. Just Hanging Around permalink
    March 27, 2011 9:12 pm

    redlami, exactly. she can have a link for financial donations, but no one can comment? honestly, this is one of the few blogs i’ve seen where no comments are allowed to posts. moderated sometimes, sure. but NO comments?

  92. Dee permalink
    March 27, 2011 9:18 pm

    Juat read the update about the Enzo is more inportant than the Ina Garten rejection story..

  93. March 27, 2011 9:20 pm

    Don’t really need to bring a phantom black person into the mix in order to ensure people get how problematic this is.

    LOL. Fair enough. It just irritates me how quick people are to find excuses to say hateful shit about celebrities that–SURPRISE!–neatly line up with their own biases.

  94. March 27, 2011 10:49 pm

    That mother is a real piece of work. The flaming inconsistancies in the last two updates is staggering. First she asks the frothing, unwashed torch baring masses to burn books with wild abandon, but once the backlash starts and the attention is directed toward Ina, which leaves her own self serving interests out in the cold, now she’s demanding calm. One should not release the hounds unless one accepts they cannot easily (or if at all) be called back. She gets no slack because of her circumstances. What a silly thing to suggest. We all have difficult circumstances and for the most part that does not excuse shitty behavior. The saddest aspect of this story is how this child has been dragged through the media, the reputation of a celebrity who had the cheek to turn down a request for their time and how major media outlets have run with a half story (looking at you, LA Times) without doing one iota of research or vetting.

  95. March 27, 2011 11:15 pm

    I believe that this media frenzy that has been going on now for about 72 hrs. was originally rooted with good intension. People don’t like to see children suffer or be disappointed. Most people want to reach out with love and support and as a family we are truly humbled (and quite frankly shocked) how many people have taken to the blog sites and media to express their feelings about this. I think the shocking thing is how fast the support and loving passion turned VERY angry, hurtful and vulgar. Even criticizing “The Make a Wish” foundation. They have been nothing but kind and generous (to MILLIONS of people). Bottom line is this is supposed to be about Enzo and he would hate what is going on. He STILL loves “The Contessa” regardless, because THAT is who he is.

    From the mother’s weird, comic sans drenched website. I’m sorry, is she new to the internet? What did she think was going to happen when she torn into Garten under the guise of her protecting her disappointed child? Apparently, he got over it; if so why was there a nasty rant about the denied wish in the first place? Nobody else will say it, but this mama is one entitled hot mess.

  96. March 27, 2011 11:41 pm

    It’s piñata journalism at its finest!

  97. March 28, 2011 9:03 am

    So, the mom got:

    1. paid by TMZ for the story
    2. paid by internet masses who are giving to her paypal account, fueled by manufactured outrage
    AND
    3. revenge exacted on a celebrity she is obsessed with who wouldn’t return her fan letter.

    ….while everyone else got played.

  98. March 28, 2011 9:28 am

    Nail, head, Barry Glibb! She manufactured a controversy and rode it all the way to the bank. Well played.

  99. Rusty permalink
    March 28, 2011 10:05 am

    So, the mom got:

    1. paid by TMZ for the story
    2. paid by internet masses who are giving to her paypal account, fueled by manufactured outrage
    AND
    3. revenge exacted on a celebrity she is obsessed with who wouldn’t return her fan letter.

    ….while everyone else got played.

    Bingo. I was not nearly as concise in my own assessment.

  100. jazzcat permalink
    March 28, 2011 11:26 am

    I’m glad someone mentioned that this “wish” sounds more like the mother’s than the kid’s. How many kids that age even know who Ina is? How many kids would be interested in a show like hers? It all smells fishy. Seems to me that when Ina turned down the request, the mom threw a temper tantrum like a little brat. Even if it were the kid’s wish, the mom’s behavior is truly shameful.

  101. evmaroon permalink
    March 28, 2011 11:41 am

    I’m wondering if I can get any money from the fact that k.d. lang never returned my fan letter in 1993. It’s always bothered me, damn it!

  102. IrishUp permalink
    March 28, 2011 12:00 pm

    ” … Living with an illness for a long time like that does fucked-up things to your mind. I cut her a break. I don’t know that she’s really done anything wrong by posting about it on her blog (unless she’s violating some kind of non-disclosure agreement, but even then that’s a legal fiction of wrongness, not doing something actually wrong). ” *

    The thing is, Mom did do something wrong – as in Xist and hurtful. Through her blog, she very publicly shat upon TBCs boundries in a way that 1) exploited a minor without consent 2) got the Thinkofthe(dying)Childrenz hive-mind going & 3) was patently misogynistic. It was a series of actions that I am not inclined to view sympathetically.

    As a ‘rental unit of a chronically critically ill kid, I find the argument that that shit screws with your mind (oh so true) so you should be excused your asshattery problematic in this circumstance. I’m not buying it; the shit I’m going through does NOT give me carte-blanche w/r/t NOT shitting on someone else.

    This wasn’t a momentary lashing out from stress, this was a public campaign. The individual blog entries, were they private, or *ahem* not sold to TMZ, count as understandable stress responses, possibly indicating the need for more support. There is no way that the subsequent clusterfucktastrophe of criticism lobbed at TBC wasn’t a forseeable consequence. Especially given the fora (TMZ, Internetz) being used. In fact, given the breakdown here, it reads like a feature- not a bug.

    “Good intentions”, my arse. Whatever good there might have been, dosen’t do diddly about the harm the actions caused.

    * @m.leblanc: if you’re the m.leblanc I’m thinking of, I’ve admired your writing!

  103. March 28, 2011 12:02 pm

    I also hate how people keep bringing up some $100K per plate fundraiser in the Hamptons thing she did as something evil – um, she donated her time to some cooking event so rich people would write giant checks that would support a nonprofit organization (that will grant dozens of kids wishes), why is this bad? How else are we going to get rich people to fork over their dough for them? Nonprofits have to essentially ‘advertise’ to support themselves and that’s not free, and it’s actually in their best interest if they only have 2 hours of a celebrity’s time, they put it towards those types of money-making events, and people can pretend to be all salt of the earth folks online, chastising the rich, while not realizing how the real world works and therefore what REALLY needs to happen to even the scales.

  104. March 28, 2011 12:10 pm

    I definitely do not begrudge the mother the right to be pissed as hell, but in reading the blog entries, which is all anyone has to go on, I am finding myself less sympathetic for the mother and feel terribly sad for the children involved. Someone alleging to be the child’s older sister took to the quagmire of TMZ’s comment section to clarify some of the misinformation reported as fact and was skewered by its erudite commentariat. Troubling times do yield to stress and often to ill advised actions and behaviors, but there is something that seems especially calculating with regard to the way in which the mother went about “venting” her frustration. A paper journal on this particular issue – particularly given the non disclosure agreements and legal dramedy evident by the hastily written “stop the madness” – would probably have been a better choice.

    But the real criminals are the countless media outfits who continued to post erroneous information under provocative, flame baiting headlines. This was never about a the rejection of a child but garnering the all important page views. The comment sections of any number of reputable papers are nothing more than user generated torch bearing angry mobs armed with few facts and terrible grammar.

  105. March 28, 2011 12:15 pm

    I also hate how people keep bringing up some $100K per plate fundraiser in the Hamptons thing she did as something evil – um, she donated her time to some cooking event so rich people would write giant checks that would support a nonprofit organization (that will grant dozens of kids wishes), why is this bad?

    I suspect many celebrity handlers are watching this story very carefully and the reprecussions will be swift and severe. In a time where nonprofits are struggling to chase too few dollars this MAW has done the entirety of charitable giving/fundraising a disservice. How are smaller orgs going to get donors to open their hearts (and wallets) if they fear the one time they say no they will defamed in a public smear campaigned leaked by a disgruntled would be recipient.

  106. IrishUp permalink
    March 28, 2011 12:46 pm

    “This was never about a the rejection of a child but garnering the all important page views. The comment sections of any number of reputable papers are nothing more than user generated torch bearing angry mobs armed with few facts and terrible grammar.”

    Ok, this is the second time I’ve been hit with Duh Truck on this site today. Also, lots of little red eye-hearts for that second sentence.

  107. March 28, 2011 12:47 pm

    Some weird, antisemitic, craptastic cheesy messageboard (hi 1995!) scraped my content. I guess nobody told them that blogs they scrape/link are notified of their douchebaggery.

  108. March 28, 2011 1:00 pm

    Ina caves

    So I guess “no” doesn’t mean “no” anymore? Wow, I can see all kinds of uses of this approach in the future…

  109. March 28, 2011 1:04 pm

    Mandy Patinkin!!!

  110. March 28, 2011 1:09 pm

    “Ina became aware of Enzo’s story this weekend and will be calling him today,” a spokesperson for Garten said in a statement to ABCNews.com. “She looks forward to inviting him to spend some time with her at the Food Network studios.”

    Ah… no cooking, no visit to the home… just a step up from a Skype chat. Well-played, Ina!

  111. March 28, 2011 1:31 pm

    Very well played indeed! Wonder if the vitriol spewers will really be happy if Ina actually only “takes one hour out of her day” to spend with the child and his parents?

  112. March 28, 2011 1:45 pm

    So I guess “no” doesn’t mean “no” anymore? Wow, I can see all kinds of uses of this approach in the future…

    …yeah. What is it they say about not letting the bullies win, again?

  113. Just Hanging Around permalink
    March 28, 2011 1:48 pm

    “Ah… no cooking, no visit to the home… just a step up from a Skype chat. Well-played, Ina!”

    i suppose that now Mommy will be upset that they aren’t invited to the new barn, or that Enzo can’t wander in the herb garden.

  114. March 28, 2011 1:52 pm

    i suppose that now Mommy will be upset that they aren’t invited to the new barn, or that Enzo can’t wander in the herb garden.

    @JHA what I like about it is that Ina is dictating the terms, and Enzo’s mom will have to accept what Ina’s willing to grant or else look (I know, it’s a stretch) unreasonable.

  115. Just Hanging Around permalink
    March 28, 2011 2:00 pm

    “@JHA what I like about it is that Ina is dictating the terms, and Enzo’s mom will have to accept what Ina’s willing to grant or else look (I know, it’s a stretch) unreasonable.”

    oh i do as well, red, and for the exact same reason that you do.

  116. March 28, 2011 2:05 pm

    One thing it illustrates is how silly it is to rush to judgment in these situations. Clearly, Garten has a hard working PR person who used the criteria outline by the boss in determining which charitable requests get a looksee from the boss. The fact the family in question was unhappy with the result and took to the streets armed with pitchforks and such doesn’t negate the effective job the PR or assistant was doing. Nobody should be fired, but that mother should be deeply ashamed of herself. Bullying and emotional blackmail are not really lessons one should teach children.

  117. marlene permalink
    March 28, 2011 2:06 pm

    Someone just had to bring the Jews into it. I could go on a tirade about how us Jews are the ones that offer charity without the expectation that you’ll convert afterwards, but that would be making a superficial and blanket statement disparaging a group and that’s not polite. *rolls eyes* It’s ok Marlene…you learned years ago not to be offended by what random idiots on the internet say, remember? REMEMBER?!

    I like how polite Ina is being. She’s clearly taking the high road on this one, even if it does send somewhat of a signal that you can be compassion bullied into doing something.

  118. evmaroon permalink
    March 28, 2011 2:19 pm

    If I were totally unaware of the shit storm circulating outside and then became privvy to the actual request that had been made of me, I’d find it easy to be gracious, too. Go, Ina.

  119. hsofia permalink
    March 28, 2011 2:31 pm

    When I told my husband about Enzo’s wish and this whole fiasco, he likened it to the horse who could do math. Regardless of whether the Clever Hans Effect is in effect here, the mom was out of line mentioning Ina by name on her blog. She seemed quite pleased about the people lambasting Ina, and then all of the sudden she is asking for calm. Give me a break. Not cool, Mama P, not cool.

  120. March 28, 2011 2:33 pm

    After stirring the pot all weekend, LA Times Food Blog is trying to cool things down:

    Garten was completely blindsided by the media firestorm this weekend over her reported refusals to meet with the young boy suffering from cancer.

    Unfortunately they also decline to acknowledge their own part in this tempest-in-a-saucepan, leaving the comments simmering all weekend.

  121. skepticynic permalink
    March 28, 2011 2:42 pm

    Too bad Ina had to cave. We all know this is Mommy’s wish, not Enzo’s. He probably wants to meet astronauts or Miley Cyrus. And it is all about what Mommy wants and how she will stamp her feet and sell her story to the highest bidder until she gets her way. I have a dog that is really dying, can I spend a night with the guy who plays Smith on Sex and the City? No? OK I am calling TMZ because he is a big meanie doody head and I will get my minions on the blogosphere to make my, oops I mean my dog’s wish come true.

    Bad PR can work both ways. Maybe someone needs to send a blog or two to TMZ and maybe the IRS about their PayPal scam and TMZ payments. After all, this firestorm was reeeeally meant to draw attention to mommy’s deama queen blog and its oh so obvious Donate to Us PayPal button, right?

  122. March 28, 2011 2:58 pm

    @skepticynic, yes. I think the big losers will be the sick kids who don’t get to meet their idols who don’t want to take a chance at the bad publicity they’ll get for saying “no” when they have to (or just want to).

    And even if it was his wish, I think his mom could have done better than use her son’s illness to bully a public figure into doing her bidding.

  123. IrishUp permalink
    March 28, 2011 3:00 pm

    “compassion bullied” ooooh – so sharp, hafta wear a falconer’s glove to steal it!

    Poor kids, poor Ina.

  124. March 28, 2011 3:12 pm

    “After all, this firestorm was reeeeally meant to draw attention to mommy’s deama queen blog and its oh so obvious Donate to Us PayPal button, right?”

    Yeah, I can see how my comments would have really brought down the “thoughtful analysis” you have going here without the, what was it you so condescendingly called it? “Hateful rhetoric and unnecessary rancor”? None of that here, right?

    Coward.

  125. March 28, 2011 3:57 pm

    Marshall Hook, you ARE persistent, I’ll give you that. Slow day at the office, huh?

    p.s. it’s not cowardly to keep a clean house. You can keep your house however you want it.

  126. March 28, 2011 3:59 pm

    What some people (such as Marshall Hook) fail to understand is that the owners of this site are under no obligation to post misinformed opinions, no matter how “thoughtfully” presented. There are plenty of un- or under-moderated sites out there which welcome such judgmental nonsense.

  127. March 28, 2011 3:59 pm

    Marshall Hook, you ARE persistent, I’ll give you that. Slow day at the office, huh?

    LOL.

  128. March 28, 2011 4:02 pm

    Look, Jimmy or Marshall Hook or whatever you’re calling yourself these days. We have a moderation policy, which it’s clear you did not read nor abide by, therefore your drivel will not be appearing on our site. You are free to take your half baked conspiracy theories to any number of news sites, which have decidedly lower standards with regard to the quality of comment they publish. Might I suggest the LA Times.

  129. March 28, 2011 4:05 pm

    wait, you guys, I get it: Marshall Hook is re-enacting the ‘bullying’ to get Fry Butter to cave just Barefoot Contessa did!

  130. March 28, 2011 4:39 pm

    It worked! Now where’s that paypal button so we can donate!

  131. marlene permalink
    March 28, 2011 4:48 pm

    @Irish Up: Jack Marshall’s “compassion bully” from ethicsalarms.com is so awesome it’s being fast-tracked into the zeitgeist on a Saturn V. It perfectly sums up the new culture of “DO THIS THING I DEEM NICE BECAUSE I SAY SO!”

  132. March 28, 2011 4:52 pm

    it’s pretty chilling to think we now live in times where public shaming a celeb minding their own business, spearheaded by a less than impeachable witness is standard operating procedure.

  133. Dee permalink
    March 28, 2011 5:49 pm

    Now TMZ has started another backhand assault on Ina Garten. They are reporting that Maksim from Dancing with the Stars has” pulled strings” to get a special request for a cancer patient fan to sit front and center for the next show. They are applauding him for finding the time to be so compassionate…SO now TMZ is a full time charity/celeb watcher and the one to tell them if they are doing good or evil.

  134. March 28, 2011 5:57 pm

    Of course I’m sure the child in question will be cute.

  135. Dee permalink
    March 28, 2011 6:07 pm

    Actually they refererred to her as a woman and it will be a night she will never forget.

    I could not help but post that TMZ would now acceopt all requests for wishes, since they seem to be the new expert on what charity should be.

  136. March 28, 2011 6:21 pm

    For the record, I wouldn’t mind sitting in the front row and catching all of Maksim’s sweat in my mouth as he dances by me…..but the next day you go right on back to your life. How is this even that much ‘charity’??

  137. March 28, 2011 8:24 pm

    It’s doubtful to be a successful inoculation against Inagate type moms. For it won’t matter how many thousands of smiles you bring to children who don’t know who you are if their precious child is denied the wish that wasn’t their wish to begin with.

  138. sherman permalink
    March 29, 2011 6:43 am

    What a great article. Such a breath of fresh air after the debacle of the TMZ postings. The witch hunt/lynching they started over this subject is terrifying. I have seen them do this before – post a story full of innuendos and let it take flight. Too bad they can’t be held accountable. I have been a fan of Ina’s for years and the comments about her food, looks, husband, “gay” friends, where she lives, etc. are disgusting. I will never donate to Make-A-Wish because I feel they did not do enough to defend Ina – but that is my opinion – if I am still allowed to have one.

  139. March 29, 2011 8:01 am

    I place a lot of blame on MAW for not issuing a firm, “No comment” when approached by TMZ about the story. That would have gone a long way to quashing the story. It would have merely been the family’s word solely and MAW wouldn’t have been viewed as participating in the witch hunt, which even if that wasn’t the intention of the statement is exactly how it appears. In hindsight there were so many system failures and when this finally blows over I don’t think Ina will be the one who suffers most. It will be all the other children whose wishes will definite not be granted because celebrities won’t bother even issuing declines. They’ll do what many of them do, which is flat out ignore requests or send sternly written letters requesting their names not be used in associated with charities. Thanks for your comment and we’re glad we were able to provide you safe harbor.

  140. Safiya Outlines permalink
    March 29, 2011 9:53 am

    ‘The Mom’, ‘Mommy’ ‘The Mother’ – does she not get to have a name? Or is she just some homogenous Mombot to mock?

    I agree that this story is rather unsettling and yet another reason not to put your child all over the internet, but at least call the woman by her name.

  141. Rusty permalink
    March 29, 2011 10:43 am

    I place a lot of blame on MAW for not issuing a firm, “No comment” when approached by TMZ about the story. That would have gone a long way to quashing the story.

    This. I have to think that by now they are aware of the backlash they may have caused by their not doing so. Therefore, it’s reasonable to suspect they won’t be handling this sort of thing the same way in the future. Still, the damage may already be done, as far as charitable organizations are concerned — at least the ones that rely on celebrities to donate their time and/or skills to either fulfill someone’s dream, or serve to draw in those who contribute money at some fundraising event. I can’t see it making a difference for local organizations, such as volunteer fire departments or rescue squads, but those aren’t exactly in the league as M.A.W.

    I’ve no idea whether Ms. Garten felt badly enough for the kid to acquiesce, or whether it was a p.r. move (possibly a bit of both). I get the feeling, however, that the mother won’t be satisfied with a visit to the studio with her son, even though I believe it’s more than she deserves. I think it sets a bad precedent. In essence, the message it sends is “If you want your unreasonable demand fulfilled, all you have to do is pitch a big enough hissy fit in public, ’cause it works!” At this point, no matter what Ms. Garten does, it won’t be enough to satisfy some people. It’s the old d@mned if you do, d@mned if you don’t thing.

  142. March 29, 2011 10:59 am

    ‘The Mom’, ‘Mommy’ ‘The Mother’ – does she not get to have a name? Or is she just some homogenous Mombot to mock?

    I agree that this story is rather unsettling and yet another reason not to put your child all over the internet, but at least call the woman by her name.

    @Safiya Outlines, if you look at her blog, she signs her own posts as “Mama” plus her last name. While it’s not difficult to figure out her full name, that’s not the point of this blog post.

  143. March 29, 2011 11:48 am

    ‘The Mom’, ‘Mommy’ ‘The Mother’ – does she not get to have a name? Or is she just some homogenous Mombot to mock?

    Yes, you’re right, this is a mom-bashing blog that secretly masquerades as a pop culture blog. Now the first question, I did consider though, the language choice, and like Redlami pointed out, I was mostly mirroring her own blog language – but I also don’t think I used the specific child’s name either, I feel no need to contribute to their celebrity/infamy. The topic and point of this post is to reach beyond the limited scope of what we *think* this one situation means and take in the broader picture of possibilities, thereby preventing mob mentality.

  144. hsofia permalink
    March 29, 2011 11:56 am

    @Safiya Outlines – I don’t know Enzo’s mom’s first name. I referred to her as Mama P because a) she refers to herself that way but with her full last name, and a) I didn’t want to contribute to having little Enzo’s first and last name put together on another blog on the Internet. The kid deserves better than that, in my opinion.

  145. Dee permalink
    March 29, 2011 12:25 pm

    TMZ still perpetuating the story more. Now big hearted John Cena with the WWE will have 30 MAW kids at an event.

  146. March 29, 2011 1:57 pm

    @Dee, I suppose next TMZ will start their own charity, calling it the Make-a-Scene Foundation?

  147. March 29, 2011 2:28 pm

    Ah, I see, so now charity is a competition! This makes perfect sense, everyone is watching The Celebrity Apprentice and acting accordingly.

  148. March 29, 2011 3:21 pm

    Another take on what happens when the sense of entitlement gets out of control:

    Child Bankrupts Make-A-Wish Foundation

  149. Dee permalink
    March 29, 2011 6:47 pm

    Love it redlami!
    All those quick to comments folks would eat this up. If it is in print or on TV it must bereal/true!?

  150. IrishUp permalink
    March 30, 2011 12:09 am

    Gratuitous comments warning!

    redlami, you have won 3 internets for “MASF”; I hope you will use some of your winnings to replace my bepepsied keyboard. If not, I will be in MASF’s freshman class.

    Is this FryButt’s first official 150+ comment thread? Virtual champers spray and confetti if so – if not, I’ll take down the plastic!

  151. March 30, 2011 5:02 am

    I think it is our first 150+! If not, we’ll celebrate anyway!

  152. March 30, 2011 7:37 am

    We win!!!!

  153. Marshall "Jimmy" Hook permalink
    March 30, 2011 11:07 am

    I was going to move on with my life and not visit this site again, but decided to come back and visit the next day and re-read your post. You’re right, and I apologize for being a stubborn jerk who insisted you owed me a publication platform for my dreadfully boring and inappropriate hypotheticals. This is your blog, and you can run it however you want, without caving in to self-absorbed trolls who love fanning the flames of discord. Best of luck to you!

  154. March 31, 2011 10:33 am

    Wow…sensible people having a discussion with a minimum amount of trolls?

    I think I like it here!

  155. March 31, 2011 11:34 am

    Best of luck to you too, Jimmy!

  156. March 31, 2011 1:25 pm

    @BrightSpot… yes, IFMiB is a culture blog not motivated by a culture war. Come back anytime!

  157. March 31, 2011 1:58 pm

    After putting up all that fuss, Enzo’s folks have apparently changed their minds:

    On Wednesday, the father of 6-year-old cancer patient Enzo Pereda told TMZ.com that he turned down Ina Garten’s invitation for Enzo to visit her Food Network show. Adrian Pereda told TMZ, “I don’t want to put my son through all these emotions. We’re better off just leaving everything the way it is.”

    To me, this raises a few interesting issues. This is the first I’ve heard anything from the dad, which I think lends more credence to the notion that meeting with Ina might have been mom’s idea all along.

    Second, why do you make such a scene and then, when you get your way, turn it down? I think ABC got the headline entirely wrong (“‘Barefoot Contessa’s’ Offer to Make-a-Wish Kid Backfires”) — Ina’s response was pure class and established good personal boundaries.

  158. Russell ( I am a complete and utter tool) permalink
    April 2, 2011 9:34 am

    Hello. I am one of those people who went from website to website commenting on this story with my opinions and have finally encountered the one place where people have a different opinion. Since I’m not able to handle dissent I must resort to ad hom attacks, poor spelling, ALL CAPS and grammatical gaffes. I used language that is in direct violation of the comment policy, which, of course, I couldn’t be arsed to read. As a result, I have had my ignorant, offensive, poorly reasoned blathering redacted and edited with this statement. To ensure I don’t come back with even more frothing rage, most likely I have also had my IP address banned.

  159. April 2, 2011 2:54 pm

    Thank you for injecting some sanity into this story. My husband told me about the controversy this morning and I was appalled at the level of vitriol I found in comments to the various stories. I was braced for the fat bashing, being a large woman, because when a fat person does something others object to, it’s pretty common to hear that. The rest of it was something of a shock, though. She didn’t even do anything wrong! I saw the ABC News use the word ordeal in describing what the family endured and I thought, “Oh, did Ina firebomb their house?” As cynical as I’ve become about news reporting, ABC went down a few notches in my estimation by pandering to sensationalism without all of the facts. TMZ I expect to be have like that.

    Amused at your troll-handling mechanism of editing the comment, gave me a good laugh. I wish I could do that on my blog!

  160. April 2, 2011 5:38 pm

    @Tapati – Thanks for your comment! I’m glad we gave you a port in the storm and a laugh in the belly. I feel as though the people who frame the situation similar to me need to be protected from those who don’t. There aren’t very many media outlets or blogs taking a strong and thoughtful counterargument and so there are plenty of places for the likes of Russell to see his world view validated and his poorly structured arguments supported. A lot of sites are afraid to enforce whatever they have established as a comment policy for fear of turning off their readership, but I think that by not moderating comments and making sure trolls and other miscreants realize that commenting is a privilege and not a right, they turn off readers who find the level of discourse and the childish vitriol to be decidedly unattractive.

  161. April 2, 2011 5:40 pm

    I was braced for the fat bashing, being a large woman, because when a fat person does something others object to, it’s pretty common to hear that. The rest of it was something of a shock, though. She didn’t even do anything wrong! I saw the ABC News use the word ordeal in describing what the family endured and I thought, “Oh, did Ina firebomb their house?”

    Also, there have been quite a few trollish folks who have questioned why this story has anything to do with gender or size and your comment, which crystallizes exactly how I felt upon hearing this story.

  162. Lisa permalink
    April 2, 2011 6:17 pm

    Help – my butt is still burning from the flames I endured on The Food Network site. All because I dared call for an end to the witchhunt of Ina. Good gravy – I was accused of every sin imaginable and then some. Got a fire extinguisher I can borrow?

    ps – those people are going to bury FN with their garbage. If anyone feels frisky fo to FN and find the “12 Days of Cookies” page. You have been warned :o)

  163. April 2, 2011 7:05 pm

    You know an issue involves women by the frequent use of the “c-word” in comments. I lost count of how many times I saw it in the original TMZ post comments and I was merely skimming every third page. Of course anyone who stands up for Ina is vilified as well. Also there are class issues involved as most of the comments involved her wealth and privilege. I’m working-class by family of origin and lower-middle-class now that I’ve developed a chronic illness but I wouldn’t hate on someone just because they have more money than I do in the way I’m seeing these people do. In their minds wealth obliges you in some way to NEVER say no to anyone for any reason, or to have staff members who do so on your behalf. Heaven help you if you enjoy your opulent home or wealthy friends (I guess wealthy people aren’t supposed to have any). Now if positions were reversed, these Ina-bashers would be enjoying their nice homes.

    I think Ina is well aware of her privilege which is why she does give to various charities and do fund-raising events. It isn’t going to help poor or disadvantaged people if she lives in a hut somewhere and makes herself miserable. I also don’t think they have a clue about what her work week is like with all of the balls she has up in the air.

  164. Russell permalink
    April 4, 2011 4:33 pm

    I came back TWICE MORE to leave more angry troll comments, of course claiming that I was being censored. But then I looked up the definition of that word and realized, oh, you aren’t the government. You aren’t ‘censoring’, you’re editing! Just like magazines and newspapers have no obligation to print my rantings for free, neither do you. No one is paying this blog to be an open public forum to the world. I can go to WordPress and start my own free blog to espouse my feelings, without riding the coattails of other writers that have done a lot of hard work to create content and build an audience.

  165. Russell ( I am a complete and utter tool) permalink
    April 5, 2011 9:18 am

    HAHAHAHAHA! Whatever dude. I dont give a crap about your coatttails. I just wanted to get my point across, which I apparently have done judging by your response. Consider this “troll” suitably fed. Mission accomplished.

    translation: I’m tired of being ignored on OK Cupid simply because I am not that much of a catch.

  166. April 5, 2011 10:54 am

    Russell, the tool, I’m glad you’ve come the long way round. I like how Russell keeps claiming that he’s done but each morning (like Xmas) another silly comment arrives in our spam queue from him.

  167. April 5, 2011 1:38 pm

    wait, there was a point?

  168. April 5, 2011 5:27 pm

    Ha. So much for following the comment policy, Russell! Not sure why he keeps turning up like a bad penny, though we’re awfully flattered by all the attention.

  169. Windy permalink
    April 12, 2011 2:03 am

    What an appalling tale–it reeks of extortion.

    Have any of the papers that reported on it actually verified that Enzo exists and has the illness his mother purports he does? Just curious. (Or maybe I’m just REALLY horrified by her writing style and constant use of religion and STRATEGICALLY placed SEO-optimized DYING KEYWORDS to beat someone over the head.)

    Because although the tragedy was a TV chef refusing to meet with a DYING child, apparently he is not dying. Such an abuse of parenting, to put a sick child in the spotlight and use his illness for profit and defamation.

    I’d also like so see the unnamed mother’s PayPal totals and TMZ payouts. Clearly she is lobbying for a book deal. Or maybe a reality show: each week, Enzo writes a new letter, and mom begins a campaign of terror when MAW says NO!

  170. sarah g permalink
    May 20, 2011 2:03 pm

    clearly i’m a little late in stumbling upon this new story, but i just have to say how refreshing it is to find a site where others reacted the same way i did. whenever i dared say that perhaps she didn’t owe this little boy anything and didn’t need to justify her reasons to MAW, the boy’s mother, or the public-at-large, there was an uncomfortable pause, lots of dirty looks, and a few, “but he has cancer!” replies. i was starting to feel like maybe i WAS heartless. nice to know i’m not the only one who thought this whole story smelled a bit fishy!

  171. Carmencita permalink
    November 23, 2012 5:36 pm

    Can we put this to bed already????? this was debunked last year. ‘Sick Boy’s’ star struck mother concocted the whole thing and Ina didn’t know a thing about it. The boy is NOT sick, Ina’s staff confirmed this early on, but the mom kept making her insistent requests. Ina did not, and would not reject a legitimate request, and in fact, has granted such requests. All of you are just waiting for any excuse to hate on a successful person who has more ‘stuff’ than you do. Hateful, jealous losers!

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