How Marriott Bonvoy Became Part of Getting the President’s Personal Assistant Fired

The President’s personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, was fired on Thursday. On Friday the story came out that she had made comments at an off-the-record dinner with reporters August 17th hosted by deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley which got back to the White House.

Apparently Ms. Westerhout, after “a couple drinks and in an uncharacteristically unguarded moment,” said that

she had a better relationship with Trump than his own daughters, Ivanka and Tiffany Trump, and that the president did not like being in pictures with Tiffany because he perceived her as overweight.

That’s not the story that interests me at all.

  • The dinner took place the restaurant at the Embassy Suites

  • However Washington Post reporter Phil Rucker was staying at the Marriott. Westerhout rode back to the Marriott with Rucker and a reporter from Reuters.

Several reports suggest that Rucker shared Westerhout’s off-the-record indiscretions with the White House.

Now, here’s the piece that interests me: What was Rucker doing staying at the Marriott, while many other press were at the Embassy Suites? Why did he have that after-dinner drive with Westerhout before allegedly outing her comments?

I’m told that Rucker is a Marriott loyalist. He posts from hotel properties he’s staying at on his Instagram account.

One source who has worked on campaigns covered by Rucker tells me that the Washington Post‘s White House Bureau Chief is “known to stay 20-30 minutes away from everyone else to get points.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Staying 20 to 30 minutes from where everyone else doing the same job is staying seems to be another example of how frequent guest and frequent flyer programs create conflicts of interest. The Washington Post pays Rucker’s bills but he chooses hotels based on properties that are most valuable to him and not necessarily where he can best do the job.

  2. Six degrees of Mormoniott…

    “She [Westerhout] worked for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, now a U.S. Senator from Utah – after he carpet-bagged his way into Utah to run for Senate there instead of in the state where he once served as governor, in the 2012 presidential election – and then later for the Republican National Committee.”

    Mittens Romney was on the Marriott board a couple of times; most recently resigning before his UT senate run.

  3. If the guy outed off the record comments, I’m wondering how he still has a job after violating the most basic tenets of journalism. This is beyond basic stuff here.

  4. I enjoyed this post, Gary.

    If Rucker was loyal to SPG in the past and had a large stash of star points, that’s understandable. But, if he was always loyal to Marriott and still is today, he should be ashamed. What really interests me is if he’s willing to stay further away from his destination, why not be loyal with Hyatt?

    Who of the following was boyvoyed?
    a) Madeleine Westerhout
    b) Phillip Rucker
    c) Donald Trump

    Who did the Bonvoying?
    a) Madeleine Westerhout
    b) Phillip Rucker
    c) Donald Trump

  5. Why was Westerhout going to the Marriott after an event at the Embassy Suites? Wouldn’t she have been lodging at the Trump Resort with the rest of the official party?

  6. Sounds like maybe there was some hanky, panky going on at the Marriott. Did it involve Golden Showers? In all seriousness I don’t understand why anyone from the Trump administration, considering they call the Washington Post “fake news,” would be having dinner with the Washington Post bureau chief and other fake news operators. The lack of judgment is mind-blowing. If you spend 24/7 blasting the Post and other journalists as “fake news” they’re going to burn you.

  7. The pot calling the kettle black.
    ————-“that the president did not like being in pictures with Tiffany because he perceived her as overweight.”

  8. So, let me get this right, Trump fires somebody for leaking, off the record, a detail that we all could have guessed, but none of the people at the table would have reported if he hadn’t fired her for it. There was more than one Trump staffer at the alleged event. Now the Trump propaganda machine is blaming Jeff Bezos’ Washington bureau chief for ratting her out, and we’re expected to believe that?
    As for Bonvoy, hate the loyalty program, not the player.

  9. As for Bonvoy, hate the loyalty program, not the player.
    Hate Marriott for having communal shampoo+urine and soap+urine. Yuk. I hate Marriott. Not staying with them anymore.

  10. @Erndog I always use a hotel’s soap and shampoo, hell I always take the extras with me when I leave. Am I missing something?

  11. Stupid woman should have been fired more viciously than that. Drinking and gossiping (and more?) with guys whose obvious job it is to destroy your boss? Appalling judgment. Wonder if she wrote that derogatory newspaper “high-up insider” piece some months back.

    I like a lot of what Trump has done with judges and deregulation especially, but he has hired some real dumbasses.

  12. This reminds me of my first business trip. I was travelling with my boss. When we arrived we picked up a rental car at the airport and drove 45 minutes to our hotel. I assumed we were meeting nearby the next day. No. We were meeting in a building right next to the airport. Why the heck did we drive all the way over there and back when the meeting was right near our arrival airport? This is when I learned about loyalty programs. I have been an aficionado ever since. BTW, I currently hold the highest status with three chains. In order of preference: Hyatt, Omni, Marriott.

  13. @Franz “Sounds like maybe there was some hanky, panky going on at the Marriott. Did it involve Golden Showers?”

    Probably less golden showers then there were rides on the Hershey highway between Obama and Reggie Love! In all seriousness I think reporters should hold themselves to a higher standard then the people they cover.

  14. There is no such thing as “off the record” … period. Another sound case for “if it is not in writing, it didn’t happen.”

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