ICYMI: C.J. Cregg returns to the briefing room

All of y’all probably saw this already, but I would have missed it if Kathryn Fenner had not brought it to my attention via Facebook over the weekend.

Of course, Facebook being Facebook, I had to go hunting elsewhere to find an embed code. (I couldn’t even find it at the White House, which is where Kathryn had gotten it — apparently, they only posted it on FB — unless I’m just looking in all the wrong places on the website.)

It was great to see her back in the saddle. And seeing her as press secretary instead of chief of staff takes us to those wonderful days when Leo was still alive. Sigh…

I was a bit disappointed in her when she ducked the one question she got from the actual reporters assembled: “Who is President Bartlet supporting in the Democratic primary?”

But she ducked it with typical C.J. aplomb…

CJ Cregg

Allison Janney fields an actual question from an actual reporter in the actual West Wing.

7 thoughts on “ICYMI: C.J. Cregg returns to the briefing room

  1. Michael Bramson

    Come on, Brad, C. J. was Chief of Staff for quite a while before Leo died. Bartlet asked him to resign during the Middle East peace talks and then he had a heart attack. C. J. was Chief of Staff during his recovery, his return to the White House as an advisor, and his stint as a candidate for Vice President.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author


      Which underlines the fact that when C.J. was press secretary, Leo was still with us and serving as chief of staff. All was right with the world…

  2. Assistant

    Only an administration quite sure of itself and of the country’s place in the world could get by with such a stunt. Fortunately the economy is strong, the world is at peace, all is good.

    I suppose I’m one of the few that finds stunts like this childish if not disgraceful, not befitting the office of the presidency.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      There are things that bug me that way, such as presidents and would-be presidents going on comedy shows.

      I was taken aback last night when I turned on the tube, and while I was looking around for the right remote to switch to streaming, the First Lady and Mrs. Biden were introduced and came out on the state on “The Voice.” My traditionalist instinct had me ready to harrumph, but then I decided it was appropriate enough — they were there to pay tribute to military families. And it was all quite dignified.

      In this case, I thought it was uniquely appropriate. This was a unique way to increase awareness about a cause, one that would ONLY work for this particular person. I thought it rather brilliant in that sense, and generous of the White House to give her that moment.

      It didn’t hurt anything; it didn’t prevent the assembled reporters from getting the information they needed; it was just a pleasant public service announcement that was a lot of fun for fans like me.

      The average consumer of news is not aware of this, but there are plenty of off-camera, light moments such as this in that room.

      I’ve only attended one White House press briefing — it was in 1998, and I was there as the guest of Press Secretary Mike McCurry (who is from South Carolina). I was in Washington, and had arranged to interview him for a column, and he arranged for me to attend the briefing before our meeting in his office. I also attended a ceremony in the East Room celebrating the 50th anniversary of NATO, which was also interesting for an internationalist like me.

      Before the briefing started, there was a little farewell ceremony for a someone who was moving on to a new job somewhere — I forget now whether it was a member of McCurry’s staff or one of the reporters. Anyway, it was obvious that it was somebody well liked by folks in the room, and it was all very warm and collegial, and I could see the very human side of everyone taking part.

      Minutes later, once the actual briefing had begun, those reporters who had been communing warmly with McCurry were really ripping into him, mostly over the burgeoning Lewinsky scandal. I remember this woman next to me who had been all warm and fuzzy moments before, applauding the person who was departing, who at one point jumped up and practically climbed over the person in front of her as she snarled, “Aw, come ON, Mike!” (The one nice part being that she called him Mike.) She was ready to tear him a new one because of the way he was dancing around someone’s question.

      This goes back to my oft-stated point, that people (even politicians) are people (I even mentioned you once in making this point). It helps to see their human side. They’re not disembodied abstractions. Not everything is stuffy officiousness and confrontation, although there’s plenty of that for those who want it.

      Anyway, the Allison Janney thing had a feel to it very much like that farewell ceremony I witnessed…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, and as for Mike’s observation that “Only an administration quite sure of itself and of the country’s place in the world could get by with such a stunt.”…

      Absolutely. We should feel good about that.

      Despite all the negativity in which we wallow these days, our country still has the self-confidence for this sort of thing….

  3. Assistant

    If you put something like “obama administration freedom of information act” into your search engine without the quotes, you’ll reap a cornucopia of results demonstrating how opaque this supposedly most transparent administration has been. The president continues to assert his gang’s openness despite the well-known stonewalling at every agency in the executive branch. They are setting records in delaying, denying, and losing FOIA requests.

    In fact, on 3/9/2016 Jason Leopold reported in Vice that it took a FOIA lawsuit to release Department of Justice (DOJ) documents showing that the White House has actually worked aggressively behind the scenes to scuttle congressional reforms designed to give the public better access to information possessed by the federal government. The reforms sought to put into law the elements of a presidential memorandum Obama signed on his first day in office in 2009.

    Putting an actress on the podium to play press secretary distracts from the sham this administration has made out of openness, transparency, and veracity. Only in an ironic sense is this funny.

    1. Doug Ross

      Press Secretaries are some of the most loathsome characters I’ve seen. They are professional liars. They know they’re lying, the press know they’re lying, and they enjoy playing the game of lying.

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