Season 5 – Episode 18 – “Access”

Episode Summary:

Producing a program on past and present White House press secretaries, a television documentary crew follows C.J. around to film a “typical” day. But the presence of outsiders adds stress when a crisis involving a terrorist shootout with the FBI has a smiling C.J. trying to keep the story a secret. Meanwhile, C.J. supervises her team in preparation for a formal papal visit with Bartlet and dodges difficult questions about the imminent future of the current FBI director.


The following program was made possible by a grant from the Kenneth C.
and Mary E.
Blackburn Foundation the Samuel Jones Charitable Trust and individual viewer donations.
Why? That’s the right question.
Your bread and butter, huh? Having the right questions.
Like having the right answers is yours.
– Did we start? – Nope.
– Don’t mind them.
– Right, right.
Why am I letting you tail me, that what you’re asking? I mean, I pitch, but I’m always surprised when people accept.
– Well, I’d seen your work.
– Well, exactly.
And, you know, I’m not expecting a free ride.
I just I guess I thought your Your concept, a day in the life A day in my life is Before we get into it, I wanna reiterate the ground rules.
You wanna document this, Chad? Let me have that.
I wanna be clear between you and me.
– Of course.
– Your access is to me.
– And your staff and coworkers.
– Yes, but if you’re hoping for time with senior staff or in the Oval you picked the wrong gal.
Not what I do.
I can’t let this project compromise my obligations to the president of the United States.
– I was bragging.
– Let’s get back to why.
Well, I think, and After President Bartlet, my face is the most associated with this administration, yet for all its visibility, it’s not well understood.
The public’s used to seeing me confronting an adversarial press and there’s a misconception that I’m here to stymie reporters or to mislead the public, to spin or even hide the truth when, in fact, any good press secretary aims to do just the opposite.
This is a terrible idea.
I don’t know what I was thinking.
This is such Let’s call this off.
The breakneck pace we live at the 24-hour news cycle.
Is this good for the country? Is it inescapable? How do we reflect, get perspective? Since the advent of TV in the middle of the 20th century the White House press secretary has been no stranger to Americans.
But what about the private aspects of this office? In the current media explosion, how is this important job changing? And to what extent does the individual serving as press secretary at any moment define America’s relationship with the White House? To answer these questions, Access spent a day with White House Press Secretary C.
I see my job as making sure the press and through them, the public, is well informed.
I tell them the truth.
– That’s my goal.
– But our cameras captured a day that was anything but ordinary.
In the corridors of the West Wing, Access became part of the modern media machine that witnessed a harrowing and historic day for the entire Bartlet administration.
Tonight, Access goes behind the podium and we invite you to come with us.
This program was shot over a two-day period a year into president Josiah Bartlet’s second term in office.
On the first day, Access conducted interviews with Press Secretary C.
Cregg, her staff and her coworkers.
The following day, we spent over 12 hours backstage in the White House on the heels of the country’s most visible spokesperson.
However, for national security purposes, the release of this documentary was prohibited until the administration left office.
Before 24-hour cable news and the Internet the White House press secretary had a more controlled set of deadlines.
Today, the press office feeds a media machine with a round-the-clock appetite.
The following is the president’s press schedule for March 31st.
This is for news planning only, not release.
Sixty-six million Americans subscribe to daily newspapers.
An average news website clocks And from a camera positioned outside the northwest gate CNN’s Channel 53 offers constant coverage of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
I don’t think it was ever a laid-back job.
But I like to think that Jim Haggerty, who was Eisenhower’s press secretary kind of knew what they were getting into when they started allowing press conferences to be recorded for broadcast for the first time.
Giving up control of your message putting that in the hands of news producers.
For those 33 minutes Haggerty stood in the Indian Treaty Room I can only imagine what he was feeling.
I see we’re trying a new experiment this morning.
I hope it doesn’t prove to be a disturbing influence.
Before Eisenhower, the White House press corps was a controllable entity, tucked in the president’s pocket.
But in 1955, the whir of cameras leveled the playing field between the press and the administration.
It represented a fundamental shift in power one still deeply felt by today’s press secretary.
Morning, Ms.
ID, please.
And I need IDs from your crew.
My day starts at home before 5, actually.
I scan all the major news outlets online before I get dressed.
On my way in, I try to stay off the phone.
My commute’s the one time I can be by myself, gather my thoughts.
– How’s Eden? – Oh, she’s great.
Thanks for asking.
– Clear.
Thank you, have a great day.
– Thanks.
Stay dry.
– White House press office.
– I arrive usually around 7, 7:30 depending, and it is no clich�, walking through those doors walking to go to work in the White House it never gets old.
Anyway, the morning starts with senior staff then I have a gaggle with the press.
Then I meet with my staff and deputies about the events of the day.
with House and Senate leadership Cabinet Room, the White House.
– Is anybody waiting for me? – Steve and Chris.
Is she chatty? That’s trouble.
– Is he on the president’s schedule? – Who? – The FBI director.
– Don’t think so.
Steve’s looking for a quote on tech-sector growth.
Hey, Steve, I beg mercy.
Don’t make me talk tech growth before coffee.
I will say this: The tech sector represents 6 million jobs.
– That I can look up.
– Your daughter hear anything? Accepted at the Annenberg School at Penn.
– That’s wonderful.
– Isn’t that great? Thank you.
– What you got? – Not gonna like it.
– I never expect to.
– At last year’s inaugural the first lady wore a Richard Tyler gown, satin off-the-shoulder.
I have a source that says she accepted that gown as a gift.
– The ethics rules are clear.
– I’ll be rifling through the first lady’s closet.
– You could get fired for that.
– If I’m lucky.
– Today’s schedule, and it’s time.
You can’t afford to ignore what even seems trivial.
And I have a call in to the first lady’s office.
The minister’s wife has a cold and she can’t make it onto the podium.
Remember the Bartlet-the-dog-hater? That was entirely my fault.
I made light of some question why the Bartlets had never owned a dog and there were stories for weeks.
It was a joke, folks.
It was my joke, and it wasn’t even funny.
The president does not dislike dogs.
The entire family have been longtime supporters of the Humane Society, the ASPCA Each morning, the press secretary meets with White House senior staff the president’s closest advisors.
This is the staff’s first opportunity to sift through the day’s impending events and issues.
Your day takes off.
Keep the balls in the air and don’t drop the wrong one.
– What else? – Well, while the president’s greeting the Ugandan delegation, which I guess is gonna happen later I’ll be briefed by the surgeon general and the AIDS Policy Office.
They wanna make modifications on PAPP.
– Pan-African? – AIDS Prevention Policy.
was someone I found during a senatorial campaign in New York.
She was doing PR with a New York firm.
And we were probably when we got C.
, and with her help, I think we gained two or three points before we lost.
– Anything else? – Any progress on the D-day anniversary? The accelerated release of information is a concern of everyone in today’s White House.
They all have to consider how the message will play in the press.
FBI put something on the president’s schedule? – Who’s asking? – So far, just me.
– No.
– There have been times where for her own sake, in order to do her job and for her to remain an honest source for reporters – If the reporters see the director here – Yeah, he’s just stopping by.
If she were to have information, she would be ethically bound to share it and I don’t wanna put her in that position.
It is a tough job.
And it only gets tougher.
We have a fraternity of former press secretaries, we get together, a club.
There’s maybe eight or so guys still kicking.
We all know what it’s like to stand out there taking those bullets, shrapnel’s flying while the rest of the president’s staff is back in the bunker safe and sound, where they should be.
You see, there’s a loneliness in this job.
A certain frontline mentality that your colleagues in the rear echelon never understand.
We got stills first.
The majority of the president’s exposure to the press is in photo pools.
Still photographers wait their turn for a prized 30 seconds in the presence of the president.
The organized chaos of this flashbulb frenzy is carefully wrangled by the Press Office a staff of 14 young aides and assistants under C.
How did you end up working at the White House? I was going to NYU.
I was a journalism major, always interested in politics and an opportunity came through friends of the family.
My father’s in the military.
I actually went to Howard University here in D.
I wrote for the paper, the student paper there.
And I was writing articles criticizing the administration about gay issues and racial issues.
And I, on a lark, kind of wrote this letter to C.
J asking if she’d see me, because I wasn’t getting a response from them and at the meeting, she actually offered me this position that opened up.
That’s it.
I’m serious.
with minister of health, Dr.
Fabius M-A-K-A-B-U-A Then it’s time for the press secretary’s meeting with her communications staff who try to anticipate the direction of the news.
The Ugandans are on schedule.
Setup’s begun.
It’s a little windy out there, but Audio said the mikes will be fine.
The president is not taking questions.
It’s just the prepared statement.
– They know that.
– Let’s hope he does.
They might ask you something about Congresswoman Wyatt getting chummy with the Palestinians.
– Okay.
And we’ve had a change in the schedule.
– No! – Not already! You begin every day juggling a very precise schedule, which completely completely falls apart midmorning.
You know those Eagle Rangers? They apparently got lost.
So we’re gonna have to postpone until 2.
– There might be a weather thing.
– We like the Rose Garden.
Satellite service says there’s only a 30 percent chance of rain, so might be fine.
– Have you looked out the window? – Keep an eye on it.
– Make sure there’s a backup plan.
– I’ll be with Vatican advance all day discussing His Eminence’s imminent arrival.
– I think it’s His Holiness.
– Eminence is imminent.
– Say that three times fast.
– Eminence is imminent eminence is imminent – Everybody back to work.
Who’s following breaking crime news for me? Me.
Nothing coming in that suggests FBI involvement.
– FBI? – I’m just keeping Eric on his toes.
– Everybody get back to work.
– Hold on one second.
– C.
– Yeah.
I articulate the president’s message and to honestly inform the press, and through them, the public about what is happening on any given day.
– They need you in Leo’s, now.
– All of us? They didn’t say.
No big deal.
– I’m so sorry.
– It’s all right.
You think the director of the FBI will let us in this? Hard to tell.
I gather he’s a pretty independent guy.
– He is.
– And not afraid of the limelight.
So typical morning so far? – Yes and no.
– Because we’re here? I don’t have to tell you about the Heisenberg Principle.
The act of observing a phenomenon changes it.
All right.
They signed the waivers.
– I’ve seen your films.
– Yeah? Excuse me.
– Wait a minute.
– Good work.
Thank you.
Nice to meet you.
Director Arnold, this is Todd Schumaker and Agent Casper.
Director Arnold has a situation unfolding.
It’s not for White House comment at this time.
We don’t believe you’ll be asked about it, but we thought you should be aware.
– Well, I appreciate that.
– We have six federal agents surrounding a remote cabin on Shaw Island in the San Juans, 20 miles from Washington state.
A man named Jamal Othman, a naturalized Yemeni-American is inside with his family.
I’m sorry, is he being brought up on charges or? Othman was under investigation for arms trafficking.
Our agents tracked him to his current location where gunfire was exchanged – Gunfire? – The president has been notified.
We’ll let you know when it resolves.
Why do you think I’m not gonna be asked questions about this? Shaw Island is only accessible by ferry and by float plane.
If this story breaks, it’ll take news crews about 45 minutes, an hour and a half.
Our Seattle field office media rep is already setting up on-site.
He’s prepared to handle the press.
– When you say gunfire, I mean – Thank you, C.
– All right.
I’m just – Thank you.
Thank you.
I am here to articulate the president’s message and to honestly inform the press and, through them, the public about what is happening on any given day.
– When we return – C.
, they have it.
breaking news turns the White House upside down.
Is this another Casey Creek? The White House released the journal numbers – You have to calm down! – Okay.
Journal numbers Early in the day, before the briefing reporters from the major outlets meet for an informal gaggle with the secretary.
– Why was the FBI director here? – He briefs the president twice a week.
– He did yesterday so I thought something’s up.
As far as you know? – He’s briefing the president.
– Is there a danger that the president’s? Do I ever have to lie to the press? Sometimes, lots of times I withhold information for valid reasons.
But you can’t lie.
You risk damaging your credibility in front of a bunch of smart people.
And if they stop trusting you, the system’s broken.
Do you think she ever has to lie to the press? That’s tough to answer in front of a camera.
No, I don’t think C.
I think that the press secretary must present what’s best for the White House and for the country.
And sometimes those are hard decisions to make.
– is not over.
Speaking of which, we need to wrap up.
Am I skeptical of what she tells me? Absolutely.
It’s my job to be skeptical.
The public relies on me to question their White House.
We get to do that in a free society.
You could say that’s at the core of our freedom.
We get to question power.
Yeah, I don’t I don’t buy into that.
I mean, the truth, I know, is an elusive idea.
But there is a time and a place for when certain facts can be dispensed to the press and to the public.
What prepares a young girl born and raised in Dayton, Ohio for a position as spokesperson for the White House and president of the United States? Well, I got a lot of drive from my father.
But it’s actually my mother who I think about almost every single day I’m here.
She was, like a lot of women, for better or for worse the communicator in our family.
The go-between.
She told us what my dad and grandpa had said or she softened what they had meant to say.
She was a natural.
She would’ve understood this job.
The pope will have the chair we agreed upon.
One of the hardest things to learn: There are so many true crises so many lurking situations that could be dangerous for the president it’s hard not to get caught up in the adrenaline and make everything lethal.
– in allowing the president’s audience to be shared.
What does that involve? Shots of the president kissing his ring? – Are you uncomfortable asking for this? – Well, is the pope Catholic? – Excuse us.
– I’m afraid I don’t Would you excuse us for just a moment, please? He’s gonna chastise the president on birth control in front of Okay, you’re not listening.
You need to go in and apologize.
If he doesn’t want his audience with the pope to be public, it won’t.
If he does, that’s a headache way over your pay grade.
Okay? – Okay.
– It’s more than picking your battles marshalling your energy.
It’s about grace under fire.
All war metaphors.
I guess that’s it.
Being able to tell when it’s a matter of life or death.
– Where’s your mother now? – She died.
– Oh, I’m sorry.
– That’s okay.
– How about your father? – He’s in Dayton, Ohio.
– And how’s he? – He’s Actually, he’s suffering from Alzheimer’s and I know that her dad is struggling, and I think that’s a perfect example.
I mean, in any other profession, she would have the time She is knowingly not doing what she needs to do to be with her father, who is elderly and struggling because she has this particular opportunity and position.
That’s a very difficult choice to make.
I don’t think she has I think she understands the choice she’s making.
And I think it’s also the choice that her father would want her to make.
And I think she knows that.
But it makes it very difficult.
She has such great instincts.
I think that she is so agile, and her wit and her charm and I think the people The press really respect her, and so that she can keep a very strong but friendly relationship with the press.
And I think that that’s important.
What do I know? But this is my opinion.
You are interviewing me.
– 3:00.
– Nope.
– 3: 15.
– No.
– 3:45.
– He has a conference call.
– 4:00.
– He has a NEC thing at 4:00 I can’t push.
If the Eagle troops make it back, we can move it to the Mural Room and make it a spray.
– What time? – 4:30.
– No.
You heard any buzz out of Seattle? The PI, The Times, anyone? Are you the sound guy? I’m supposed to make sure the levels aren’t too high.
Because last time there was feedback, and it’s Do you need help with that? You know why I’m asking? Because he’s about to head out, and Correction.
He is heading out.
I told them to wait until Of course I’m nervous.
I’ve got him in front of cameras, and you’re not What do you wanna hear? I’m panicked too? You know what? The director said this was gonna be settled an hour ago.
– characterize USAID funds as a cash cow for Cuban dissidents.
Are you watching? He’s taking The Ugandans aren’t taking – He’s taking a question.
– I’m watching.
He’s taking a question.
Secretary Berryhill and myself are deeply troubled by the repeated jailings of political dissidents in Cuba, especially – Oh, boy.
as 15,000 desperate Cuban citizens continue to risk life and limb to reach our shores every year.
America looks forward to the day when aid to Cuban citizens will no longer be necessary.
He never says it exactly the way I would but that’s the fun part.
– C.
, they have it.
– Hold on.
Wait, I gotta go.
Who has what? Someone called in to a radio drive-time from Shaw Island.
Federal agents set up a perimeter on the property next to his.
– Was gunfire mentioned? – Yeah.
– Okay.
– What do we do? She’s a great teacher, is what she is and I think my job really is to protect her, to help her protect the president.
I pulled the records you asked for from Casey Creek.
The investigation reports are on your desk.
That blue binder.
FBI predicts 45 minutes for cameras to be there.
I bet aerial coverage in 20.
– Poker face.
It breaks, look surprised.
– Yeah.
We’re showing you live images from Shaw Island, Washington Twenty-three minutes later, MSNBC carried the first live helicopter coverage of Shaw Island.
A suspected arms trafficker appears to have sequestered himself in a small cabin in the northwest corner of the island.
There has been no official comment on whether Mr.
Othman is alone or whether he has hostages.
But you can see the cabin now where gunfire was exchanged two hours ago.
Federal agents have cordoned off the area There’s a misconception that I’m here to stymie reporters or to mislead the public to spin or even hide the truth, when, in fact, any good press secretary aims to do just the opposite.
– So the FBI director? – I still don’t know, Greg.
– C.
– Mark, I don’t have anything yet.
No comment on the dog? My guy’s got a vet on Shaw Island, says the Othman family dog is in his office with an FBI agent’s bullet in it.
Is this gonna be another Casey Creek? – the initial outburst this morning.
State and local authorities have recently Off the record? I hope not.
Five years earlier, the FBI’s mishandling of a standoff in Casey Creek which resulted in the shooting death of the suspect’s wife was a tragedy that haunted the new president’s first term.
But if the incident at Casey Creek was a tragedy the investigation that followed was considered by many to be an extended farce.
Instead, the FBI will strictly adhere to the guidelines The FBI director is still failing to cooperate.
As you know, the attorney general There were calls for the director to step down and the president to fire him.
The FBI has confirmed the tragic loss of Brian Anuletti.
Casey Creek also haunted President Bartlet’s young press secretary.
Cregg’s naivet� about the power of her podium led many to question her abilities to deliver the news of the nation.
It would be months before she regained the confidence of the White House press corps and the Bartlet administration.
Did the agent mistake Pamela Charlton for her husband when they shot her in the doorway of her home? I can’t speak to specifics.
The director and the president were in constant contact.
When you say constant contact, is that? The president was briefed daily several times a day by the attorney general and the director of the FBI.
The president knew snipers were given the green light to use deadly force? – I have no idea.
, FBI rules of engagement specify that no action may be taken unless innocents are in imminent danger.
Did the director discuss suspending those rules with the president? No, though some of the agents thought the rules had been suspended.
So, C.
, so there? There was a breakdown in communication? No, I didn’t say that.
The rules are predicated on the Constitution.
Are you saying the FBI suspended the Constitution? I’m not saying that either.
My job is making sure the press and, through them, the public, is informed.
I tell them the truth.
That’s my goal.
When we return, will mistakes of the past create a new crisis for the Bartlet administration? We are about 200 yards from the cabin.
Now, we have no answer yet from the FBI about who fired the first shots.
The FBI has cleared the airspace here above Shaw Island and we are told that this is standard procedure.
And with reports of a family dog allegedly shot by federal agents the question on everyone’s mind today is: Is this another Casey Creek? – Are you saying the FBI suspended the? – Wow, look how young you look.
I wonder how old I’m gonna look by this time tomorrow.
Don’t answer that.
I’m sorry we didn’t brief you about the dog but it wasn’t for comment, anyway.
The director wanted you in the loop to extend a show of faith It was a show of something, but if I’d been truly briefed I could have told you this wasn’t going away.
Well, the director was confident that the situation would His confidence is starting to Okay.
Did you need me? – Leo wanted me to remind you – Oh, yeah.
I know my line.
– I think you look better now.
– I do too.
– You do.
– Yeah.
Even in the midst of brewing storms, the press briefing is a constant centerpiece of the day.
Normally, the press secretary’s chance to combat speculation and set the record straight.
Up until WWll even the general public could walk right up to the door of the White House.
And the press office, that was born under Teddy Roosevelt.
We knew our way around the West Wing.
We knew the staff, the president.
There was no press room.
So we’d hang out in the lobby and just wait for the news of the day.
If Jim had anything for us, we’d gather around with our notebooks.
And sometimes he’d just come out and say: “Nothing more today, fellas.
Go on home.
” That couldn’t happen now.
– C.
, did the FBI fire the first shot? – Just wait till the briefing.
Is it Othman or Oathman? – Othman.
– Oathman.
– Which one is it? – Othman.
I double-checked.
You know, from time to time, I look in on the midday briefing and it all comes back.
My heart starts to race.
My stomach churns.
Then I mix myself a martini and I thank God it is not me anymore.
– C.
– Yeah, Steve.
What would the president say to those who fear a repeat of Casey Creek? The president is aware of the situation and hopeful for a peaceful resolution.
Has he asked for an explanation of why a dog was shot by agents at the scene? We’re tracking the situation but do not interfere with ongoing law-enforcement efforts.
I’m following up.
There are reports agents fired the first shots.
Is this true? I won’t speculate.
Can’t we safely say Othman didn’t shoot his own dog? Again, the White House doesn’t comment on an ongoing operation.
Was the director called to the White House by the president or did he come on his own? – They meet twice a week So you don’t know if they discussed the standoff? – We’re getting word the FBI is issuing – Yeah, I’m just getting that now.
I have a statement to read.
Our negotiator established telephone contact with Mr.
Othman inside the residence and has learned one of the Othman children was injured in the initial exchange of gunfire.
I have no particulars about the extent of the injury.
Othman has agreed to allow an ambulance to approach the cabin and let at least one other family member help evacuate the injured child to receive medical treatment.
I have nothing further at this time.
– C.
– Excuse me.
Excuse me.
The FBI has cleared the airspace here above Shaw Island and we are told that this is standard procedure.
He’s in with Leo.
– moments ago, and as you can see, has stopped at the turnoff to the lane.
– approaching the cabin.
They’re in the Oval.
The breakneck pace we live at, the 24-hour news cycle.
Is this good for the country? Is it inescapable? How do we reflect, get perspective? – They’re on a call.
– With the director? I can’t interrupt.
– Okay.
– Armed agents around the cabin Well, there are times when it’s what’s called a closed hold when certain members of the staff until, again, all the information is ready to go out some people aren’t included.
That’s happened to me.
It’s happened to everybody on the staff at one point or another.
What do you mean? It’s Claudia Jean.
It’s I’m at work.
I’m at the White House, Daddy.
Is there a nurse there? I’m sorry you don’t like it, but I can’t come back right now.
I can’t be there right now.
I’m very, very sorry, and I love you so much, but I can’t be there.
And I will be there as soon as I can.
Hopefully next weekend, like we talked about.
All right, Daddy.
The injured child is the primary concern.
President Bartlet can’t or he won’t ride herd.
They were a nice family.
The FBI hounded them.
– from authorities since this standoff began five hours ago.
Their phone was being tapped Cowboy Arnold’s there, shooting up dogs and children.
Nobody respects the job our federal agents do every day more than me, but where is the leadership? Oh, sure, it’s racial profiling.
As tensions mounted in the West Wing the press secretary was kept at arm’s length about negotiations and the condition of the child on Shaw Island.
And, of course, we’ve got that tradition of the flak jacket.
You heard about that.
– No, tell me.
– Well, we’ve got this flak jacket.
It goes from one press secretary to the next.
We all put little notes in the pockets, you know, words of wisdom to the next guy on the job.
– Like what? – I couldn’t tell you that.
Part of the tradition is it remains private.
The Roadless Rules Conservation Area announcement originally scheduled for 12 p.
has been moved to 3 p.
? Agent Casper’s here.
– Agent? – Hi.
What? I’m sorry.
I’m not sure this is a really good idea.
The entire fourth estate is camped outside.
Seriously, I’m gonna have to kick you out.
The president, the attorney general and the director asked me to stop by so I wouldn’t say that’s a good idea.
You were in the Oval.
Just left.
It’s okay.
And first off, I wanted to On behalf of the director, I want to apologize.
The media rep on Shaw screwed up.
Never should have issued a statement without telling you.
Appreciate him not doing it while I’m on the air.
Bad move.
Won’t happen again.
What makes you say that? That I’m not gonna answer until you close that.
– Want the cameras off? – Yes, please.
When we return, an explosion on Shaw Island threatens the worst for the Bartlet administration.
– No comment.
– No comment.
– Want the cameras off? – Yes, please.
Cregg’s closed door was a vivid reminder to the press corps that the press secretary was in control of their feeding time.
Their hunger for updated information was only intensified by the continued lull in action on Shaw Island.
It’s a clear breach of policy He doesn’t have the bullet, or that the FBI confiscated the bullet? Carol.
We know Agent Casper’s in there.
Is she being briefed? It’s like a debate team.
You don’t argue for the other side.
There’s an inherent aspect of spin that’s just human nature.
You try to strengthen and clarify your point of view.
If you choose not to advertise your vulnerabilities, is that a cover-up? You know what? Could you make sure people don’t walk in and out of here? I’m sorry about that.
I just spoke with Eric.
And don’t ever let the press have free rein back here.
This answer is too long-winded for you to use but I think my job is public, and yet for all its visibility, it’s not.
There’s a misconception that I’m here to stymie reporters or to mislead the public.
To spin or even hide the truth.
Better way to put it: I’m here to articulate the president’s message and to honestly inform the press, and through them, the public about what is happening on any given day.
– surrounded a cabin located deep in the woods on Shaw Island a remote location off the Washington state coast.
What we know is that there was an initial exchange of gunfire You waiting for something? – whose last name we only have as Othman.
You wanted to see my day, this is my day.
The extent of those injuries is yet to be determined.
I just got a call from Jill at the Times and she told me that you went on the record with her.
I didn’t go on the record with her about anything.
I was rescheduling an appointment for C.
J That is not your job.
Your job is “no comment.
” – I have to talk to you.
– Okay? – Understood, I’ll take care of it.
– All right.
What’s up? Research has it that Mrs.
Othman isn’t Yemeni-American.
She’s the daughter of a schoolteacher and an auto worker.
Born in Detroit.
– Has it gotten out yet? – No.
Not yet.
I want you to stay on it.
And be discreet.
– Hey, hey, they’re moving! – an emergency vehicle on the scene.
Yes, okay, now it appears we have the ambulance doors opening.
– Carol! – And they are We have a stretcher rolling out of the ambulance.
I see two EMTs.
They’ve removed a stretcher and they are heading in the direction of the cabin.
As a reminder, the new SOP does specify that snipers are not to fire when children are in harm’s way.
– Yes, I can see the EMTs approaching.
They don’t appear to be going all the way Oh, the door’s opening.
The door of the cabin is? Okay, we have an explosion, or a flash of some kind near the cabin.
We do have gunfire coming from the direction of the cabin.
What are you seeing now? Get me 10 minutes in the Oval Office.
Call over there now.
I can no longer see the EMTs or the children.
– There’s Someone may be down.
– Gunshots are continuing.
We see agents now on the move.
I see five, six members of SWA storming towards the cabin.
Andrew! Andrew! – lost sight of the children as they came out of the cabin.
They may be down.
We do have more gunfire coming from the direction of the cabin and from the surrounding woods.
Come with me.
– C.
– No comment.
This is Charlie.
Reschedule the announcement for tomorrow.
You’ve got the NEC waiting.
No, I’ll stick my head in.
I’ll get on your schedule in the morning for a final prep for questions.
I think we can guess what those questions are.
Yes, sir.
– In the Mural Room.
– Here they are.
Are these our young, wayward adventurers? – The Eagle Rangers.
– Welcome to the White House, fellas.
Come on in.
How you doing? It’s good to see you.
I’ll have a word with you later.
– So who among you – We’re in here.
objects to staying another night at the Marriott? While airwaves were filled with conflicting reports of what happened on Shaw Island the Bartlet administration dropped away from the breaking news and resumed its day.
Was there contention within the administration? Would further departures from standard procedure be revealed? From inside the West Wing, we could only speculate with the rest of the country.
– Really? – That’s right, sir.
– Thank you, fellas.
– See you at 10 a.
in the Rose Garden.
Have a good night.
Yes, sir.
– You holding up? – Oh, yes, sir.
I guess there’s an inherent tension there, I won’t deny it.
Conventional wisdom says you can’t serve two masters.
I do.
– But your first is? – Or, I tell myself I do.
Some of you are up against evening-news deadlines so we’d like to bring Agent Mike Casper to the podium.
He’ll have a statement and then take your questions.
Approximately one hour ago, agents apprehended Jamal Othman who had been holed up with his family in a seven-hour standoff on Shaw Island in Washington state.
ATF officials recovered two cases of explosives which had been wired through the cabin.
Othman was in control of their detonation.
Othman received a gunshot wound to the left shoulder, condition is stable.
The standoff was initiated when Othman opened fire this morning and released an attack dog on federal agents attempting to serve him with an arrest warrant.
One agent sustained severe bites to the face and throat.
His condition is critical at this time.
His name is being withheld until his family can be notified.
The youngest Othman child also sustained injuries in the initial exchange of gunfire.
Hoda Othman, age 6, was struck by flying glass and went into shock.
She and the other five children, as well as Mrs.
Othman have been safely evacuated.
The daughter is in stable condition.
I’ll take your questions now.
Agent Casper, what are the charges against Mr.
Othman? On the evening news on that March day three years ago speculations of impropriety were initially overtaken by relief at the positive outcome.
In a stunning conclusion the FBI Hostage Rescue and SWA T, using a flash-bang as a distraction stormed the cabin moments after an injured child was safely – Okay, what do you got for me? – Call from the first lady’s office.
The Richard Tyler burgundy gown she wore was donated to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in January.
– Did you? – I faxed Chris a copy of the receipt.
– Thank you.
– The Vatican team was sorry they didn’t say goodbye and look forward to seeing you.
– They didn’t seem put off? – I don’t think so.
That Renato guy asked me out to dinner.
– You gotta go.
– Oh, I don’t know.
He seemed “A guy I dated from the Vatican”? Can’t pass that up.
Within a few hours, the action in the West Wing’s corridors slowed to a steady hum.
– Good night.
– Good night, Jack.
Thank you for everything today.
I’ll be working, so if you need anything, I’ll be here.
– Okay.
– Working.
– Thanks, Andrew.
I appreciate it.
– Bye, Andrew.
Is she a good boss? She’s the best boss, and I couldn’t have a better job.
I really look at C.
as my mentor.
They say that a mentor’s a wise and trusted guide or friend.
I would say that C.
is all of those things.
It would be weeks before the charges against Mr.
Othman would become public knowledge, but at the end of our day with C.
Cregg Access got a preview of what America would later learn.
– Good day.
– Not bad.
I counted six rounds you went with the rope-a-dope in that briefing.
I’m starting to take pride in it.
That sounds sick.
Is there anything I should know for tomorrow? The director wants to wait until he’s sure it’s a clean sweep before announcing all the charges.
– That makes sense.
The confiscated blueprints are the most damning evidence, of course but Othman’s contacts with the Bahji network already netted a dozen arrests.
Wow, this is This was big for the FBI.
It was big for all of us.
Big enough to put Casey Creek in the past? We’ll see.
The next day, most of the media coverage mentioned the administration’s previous debacle at Casey Creek.
Over the next nine months, in dozens of arrests connected to the Othman conspiracy.
In the end, 11 domestic terrorists were sentenced and convicted in federal courts.
Last July, Jamal Othman died of complications from kidney failure in federal prison, where he was serving a life sentence for conspiracy to commit terrorism.
Sometimes you have to just let yourself get beaten up.
But sometimes it’s better to be beaten up for 24 hours than beaten up for the long run.
Although the long run’s something I have no sense of.
When I go home at night, I’m thinking about the next day’s schedule.
Rain? That’s what they said for today.
Keep it in the Rose Garden for now.
Director Arnold continues to elicit controversy as head of the FBI and C.
Cregg, who allowed us to share a day with her in the West Wing remains the only woman to have served two terms as the White House press secretary.

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