TODAY   |  February 21, 2012

Desiree Rogers: No regrets leaving White House

After a public fall as social secretary for the Obama White House, Desiree Rogers has rebounded with a job helping promote popular brands like Ebony and Jet magazines. TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> has been two years since desiree rogers time as the social secretary at the white house came to an end. she sat down with savannah guthrie . good morning.

>> good morning. a lot of people remember the obamas ' eye catching, glamorous social secretary. she was forced out of the job after the infamous state dinner party crashing . she has a new job, a new life and no regrets. desiree rogers has arrived again.

>> good morning.

>> reporter: back on top, heading the power house johnson publishing .

>> can i get the jet file?

>> reporter: with a new mission to breathe life into the legendary brands jet, ebony and fashion fair cosmetics.

>> some people argue why you have a magazine focused on black america . i say why not? there are still people that whether or not it is black americans or not black americans that need and want to understand the authentic voice of black america .

>> reporter: under rogers , the magazin magazines' once sagging circulation numbers are on the rise and there is a slick new website.

>> it's a beloved brand. you mess with it too much and people say it's unreek niezable.

>> it's a balancing act. we didn't want to change it. we wanted to revitalize it. we are proud of the work that's been done.

>> reporter: rogers , too, is in the midst of her own renaissance after a public fall from her perch as social secretary of the obama white house .

>> congratulations, mr. president.

>> reporter: in the heady early days after inauguration rogers was the glamorous friend of michelle obama brought in to plan 'vents at the white house while cultivating the image of the first family. you came to washington and made a splash.

>> i didn't try to make a splash!

>> reporter: you couldn't help it. were you surprise bid the attention?

>> i was a little bit surprised. i think the team was surprised by the uh attention we got.

>> reporter: rogers made waves replacing stodgy traditional white house events with more creative fare. a petery jam, star gazing and a luau. she was featured in vogue, snapped at fashion week next to anna wintour . later photographed in borrowed designer clothes and jewels for a wall street journal magazine article. there was no way you were going to come to the white house and blend in.

>> i tried. it didn't work. i had my black suit on and my button down shirt and my little mini heels. it didn't work.

>> reporter: rogers turned heads but soon raised eyebrows inside the white house . the president's political advisers were worried about appearances as the nation descended into economic crisis . there seemed to develop a caricature as if you were doing things that were glamorous or tone deaf to the times, to the economic realities.

>> mm-hmm.

>> reporter: how do you respond to that? do you think that was unfair?

>> i don't think i have to. i think anyone who knows me and knows the kind of work and creed i follow, they know better. i'm not that much of a glamour girl .

>> reporter: then there was what she said in the wall street journal magazine calling the obamas the best brand on earth. the presidents' advisers were not pleased.

>> i'm a business person . i'm not trying to be a politician.

>> reporter: was it a matter of being straightforward and honest and maybe that doesn't go over well in washington?

>> you're not going to get me to say that.

>> reporter: just as it appeared she had weathered the early growing pains.

>> mr. and mrs. salahi.

>> reporter: michaele and tareq salahi talked their way into the state dinner . were you in shock?

>> i don't know that i would say in shock. i was disappointed. my first reaction goes to, well, how did this transpire?

>> reporter: secret service acknowledged failing to properly check their identification but rogers was criticized for not stationing someone from the social office at the outer checkpoint and attending the dinner as a guest wearing a designer gown, not as a working staffer.

>> do you think you took the fall for that? that you got blamed?

>> it's not about me. it really isn't. the one thing i can say is everywhere i go people know that face, know that girl. that's the aftermath i have had to deal with. so that's a little bit more annoying than anything else.

>> reporter: you are forever linked with the salahis?

>> everyone says, tell us what happened. not gonna! i'm not trying to prove anything. i'm a pretty secure person. i know, you know, what i know. that's all it takes. if i can sleep at night, everyone else should let it go.

>> reporter: rogers designed in early 2010 . white house insiders agree the salahi incident was her undoing. do you still believe the obamas are the best brand on earth?

>> i do.

>> reporter: have you talked to them?

>> i haven't talked to them recently.

>> reporter: do you feel burned by the experience?

>> no. i don't waste time on silliness like that. i think when you serve your country it's about your country and not about you personally. i'm a pretty strong and tough girl.

>> talking to folks who worked with rogers at the white house they feel she had an impossible job given the economic setting. they say they respect and like her to this day. she really relishes her new position and feels it's a place she can