Names and Faces: Gossip about Justice John Roberts, Michelle Obama, Eric Dane

A sight to be seen: Michelle Obama will donate the gown she wore when accompanying her husband on inauguration night.
A sight to be seen: Michelle Obama will donate the gown she wore when accompanying her husband on inauguration night. (Richard A. Lipski/the Washington Post)
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Saturday, March 6, 2010

A teaching moment

Did a first-year class at Georgetown Law start the "John Roberts is retiring" rumor?

According to a handful of students who e-mailed Above the Law blogger David Lat, professor Peter Tague opened his 9 a.m. Thursday criminal law class by telling students that the Supreme Court's chief justice would be stepping down for health reasons, and he asked them not to tell anyone. Of course, within minutes, if not seconds, the texting and e-mailing began. And, of course, the "news" entered the blogosphere; it ended up on as a story.

"Then, at around 9:30," one student wrote to Lat, the professor "let everyone in on the joke."

Turned out Tague was trying to teach a lesson about the importance of evaluating the sources of information -- a lesson former students said he has used before. This one ended up schooling the entire Internet: RadarOnline featured the story but named no sources. Later, the site ran a wishy-washy retraction, saying Roberts had been considering a resignation but had changed his mind.

The Supreme Court's public information office has yet to comment. Phone messages left Friday for Tague, the Georgetown Law press office and RadarOnline were not returned.

We'd say RadarOnline flunked the good prof's class.

Obama to donate gown

First Lady Michelle Obama has made the Smithsonian an offer it can't refuse: her one-shoulder, white, chiffon inaugural gown. The White House says she will donate it in person at a closed ceremony Tuesday, and the public can see it on Wednesday.

The dress -- designed by Jason Wu and worn to a flurry of inaugural balls in January 2009 -- will be displayed in a new "First Lady's Debut" gallery at the National Museum of American History. Inaugural dresses worn by Helen Taft, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosalynn Carter and Laura Bush, among others, will also be exhibited. Also to be donated: the shoes and jewelry Obama wore with the dress.

This is the first high-profile Smithsonian donation from the Obama White House, although the museum already has items from President Obama's campaign. As our colleagues Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts reported shortly after the inauguration, it typically takes six months for these donations to result in an exhibit. After a formal letter of request from Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, there are months of mannequin fittings and repairs before the gowns are ready for prime time.

End notes . . .

Born: It's a girl for actors Eric Dane, 37, and Rebecca Gayheart, 38, the Associated Press reports. The baby (no name yet) is the first for the couple, who married in 2004.

Engaged: "Amazing Race" winners Cheyne Whitney, 23, and Meghan Rickey, 24, People magazine reports. The elaborate proposal involved a helicopter ride, visiting old haunts in their shared home town and a personalized "Will you marry me?" ad in Brides magazine.

Quoted: "Sometimes people just like being around each other, and good things come out of that. My goal in life is to love whoever I think is worth loving, and I think if people knew her like I knew her, they would love her like I do. It's really simple." -- Former Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan to Rolling Stone magazine on Jessica Simpson, whom he's rumored to be dating. Despite the simplicity, he neither confirms nor denies.

-- Marissa Newhall, from staff, wire and Web reports

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