The West Wing (1999–2006): Season 5, Episode 18 - Access - full transcript

White House press secretary C.J. Cregg has granted television news magazine "Access" permission to film her on a typical day in the office. On this particular day however, news of a standoff involving a terrorist and the FBI breaks, forcing C.J and the White House to operate in full crisis mode. This episode is presented as the end product of the "Access" documentary, with interviews, stock footage, narration, and "unscripted/live" events captured on camera as they unfold.

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... picked the wrong gal.
Not what I do.

I can't let this project
compromise my obligations... 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.J. Cregg.

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.J. 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 31 st.

This is for news planning only,
not release.

Sixty-six million Americans
subscribe to daily newspapers.

An average news website clocks
200 hits a second.

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... 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. Cregg. ID, please.
And I need IDs from your crew.

My day starts at home before 5,

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... 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.

8:30 a.m., the president meets
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.

- lf 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.

C.J. was someone I found during
a senatorial campaign in New York.

She was doing PR
with a New York firm.

And we were probably
36 points behind...

...when we got C.J., 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...

- lf 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... 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.J. Cregg.

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.C.

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.

10:30 a.m., the president meets
with minister of health, Dr. Fabius...


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.J.
- 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.

Okay. No big deal. Okay.

- 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... the San Juans, 20 miles
from Washington state.

A man named Jamal Othman,
a naturalized Yemeni-American... 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
90 minutes ago.

- 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.J.

- 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.J., 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... 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... 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.J. lies.

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... many lurking situations that could
be dangerous for the president...'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... 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. 3:30.
- No. 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,

- Oh, boy. 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.

Yeah. Yeah. He never says it exactly
the way I would...

...but that's the fun part.

- C.J., 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... 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.J.
- 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... 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.

C.J. 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... use deadly force?
- I have no idea.

C.J., 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.J., 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.J., 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.J.
- 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.J.
- 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... 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

...originally scheduled for 12 p.m.
has been moved to 3 p.m.

C.J.? 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.

I'm gonna have to kick you out.

The president, the attorney general
and the director asked me to stop by... 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.

Agreed. 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.


C.J. 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 T
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.J.
- No comment.

This is Charlie.

Okay. Thanks.

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.

Hi. Come on in.

How you doing?

It's good to see you. Good. Good.

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.m. in the Rose Garden.

Have a good night. Yes, sir.

- You holding up?
- Oh, yes, sir.

Yes. 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... we'd like to bring
Agent Mike Casper to the podium.

He'll have a statement
and then take your questions. Mike.

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.

Mr. 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... 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... 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.J. as my mentor.

They say that a mentor's
a wise and trusted guide or friend.

I would say that C.J.
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.J. 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,
100 charges were handed down...

... 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.J. 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.