One of the most frequently asked questions of President Mark Gearan is how realistic is NBC’s prime-time show “The West Wing.” To help answer that question President Gearan, former assistant to the President, director of communications and deputy chief of staff, brought a group of former White House staffers to Hobart and William Smith Colleges last night, April 24, to offer insight.
The forum, called “The Real West Wing,” was presented as part of the President’s Forum lecture series and featured former press secretary Jake Siewert, former presidential assistant Stephen Goodin, former White House secretary Betty Currie and John Harris of The Washington Post. The event was recorded to be later televised on C-SPAN and aired live on WEOS FM 89.7.
The forum began with the staff members offering brief comments on their interpretation of the primetime show, which portrays the goings-on in the White House nerve center. Siewert said the hectic 24-hour on-call lifestyle is very realistic and he recalled being awoken by members of the press many mornings. He also believes the show captures the humanity involved in each decision made in the executive office. Goodin pointed out differences such as that the President’s assistant would never date the President’s daughter, you can’t snap off to the President and they didn’t end every conversation with “Thank you, Mr. President.”
Then, once the floor was opened to the audience, the panel was asked questions about the real White House during the Clinton Administration and their most memorable moments in the relationship between the President and Vice President.
From the Washington Post's “The Note”:
“The Note loves the meta-ness of last night's “President's Forum” at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Betty Currie, Jake Siewert, Stephen Goodin, and John Harris all found their way to Geneva, New York, to lend a helping hand to Hobart's president (and former Clintonista), Mark Gearan. It may be due to the deadline of the campus weekly, The Herald, but The Note was very disappointed this event did not get the coverage it so clearly deserved.”
The Note is written by members of the ABC News Political Unit Mark Halperin, Marc Ambinder, David Chalian & Brooke Brower.