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The Benign Prerogative

Original Airdate 01-14-04

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In the run-up to the State of the Union address, Bartlet weighs vetoing a crime bill because of sentencing guidelines in imposes. He also considers issuing pardons. Meanwhile, Toby and Joey Lucas (Marlee Matlin) "mall test" the speech in Michigan and Florida; and Charlie meets a young woman (Gabrielle Union) at a New Year's Eve party.
From NBC:
As the State of the Union speech nears, the President (Martin Sheen) ponders a lengthy list of prisoners eligible for pardon -- but he must weigh the political implications of "the benign prerogative" -- while Charlie (Dulé Hill) befriends an attractive young woman (Gabrielle Union) and shares insider tidbits until he learns that she will begin the White House beat as a reporter. Elsewhere, Toby (Richard Schiff) takes the heartland's temperature by joining pollster Joey (Marlee Matlin) on a mall polling tour that could affect the language of the upcoming speech. In addition, the First Lady (Stockard Channing) vows to be more pro-active in influencing her husband while Bartlet entertains a Colorado couple whose fundraising efforts also include an impassioned plea.
From Warner Bros.:
Toby finishes the State of the Union Address a few weeks early, and a pregnant Joey Lucas (Marlee Matlin) polls responses to the speech from everyday people. Charlie is intrigued by Meeshell Anders (Gabrielle Union), an aspiring female journalist with a secret. Abbey pressures her husband to pardon a Native American tribal leader convicted of killing two FBI agents in North Dakota. Bartlet opposes minimums and guidelines for prison sentences and pardons over 30 inmates. And Toby hires a new assistant, Rena (Melissa Marsala).


Stockard Channing as Abbey (Abigail Ann) Bartlet M.D. First Lady
Dulé Hill as Charlie (Charles) Young Personal Aide to the President
Allison Janney as C.J. (Claudia Jean) Cregg Press Secretary
Joshua Malina as Will (William) Bailey Vice President's Chief of Staff
Janel Moloney as Donna (Donnatella) Moss Assistant to Deputy Chief of Staff
Richard Schiff as Toby (Tobias Zachary) Ziegler Communications Director
John Spencer as Leo Thomas McGarry Chief of Staff
Bradley Whitford as Josh (Joshua) Lyman Deputy Chief of Staff
Martin Sheen as
Jed (Josiah Edward) Bartlet President of the United States
Special Guest Stars    
Gabrielle Union as Meeshell Anders Reporter
Marlee Matlin as
Joey (Josephine) Lucas Pollster
Guest Starring    
Michael Hyatt as Angela Blake from New York
Melissa Marsala as Marina "Rena" Research Assistant
NiCole Robinson as Margaret Hooper (last name) /
Assistant to Chief of Staff
Bill O'Brien as Kenny Thurman Sign Language Interpreter
Margot Rose as Portia Colgrave Pardon Attorney
Stephen Lee as Registered Voter Toby's audience
Melissa Fitzgerald as Carol Fitzpatrick (last name)
Assistant to the Press Secretary
Chris Gardner as First Guest  
Wil Hall as Other Guest  
Mark Costello as Guest  
Breena Shepard as Kandy Holmes (last name)
Anthony R. Jones as Holmes (last name)
Families Against Mandatory Minimums
Charles Howerton as Actor President  
Brooke Baumer as Bradenton Pollster  
Charles C. Stevenson Jr. as Bradenton Pollster #2  
Bradley James as Secret Service Donnie
Doug Hale as Network Host  

Information Links


Media Quotes

The Afro-American Newspapers will have a prominent role on the January 14th episode of The West Wing. The show will include guest star Gabrielle Union, who plays an AFRO reporter working as a new member of the White House Press Corps. The episode will also focus on a near romance with Gabrielle's character and Charlie Young, the president's personal assistant and whether private matters shared off the record between the two can be kept out of the newspaper.

"More and more shows attempt to depict a realistic image of the Black community. Such realism can only be achieved when that picture includes images and use of the black press, which has for well over 100 years been a major source of information for its community," said AFRO Publisher John Oliver, Jr.

"Black Press Will Have a Role in Wednesday's "West Wing""
by Unknown
Jamuary 12, 2004
Wilmington Journal

Back-scratching references built into dialogue including a "West Wing" episode in which one character talked about another character's becoming an NBC News reporter


John Wells, "The West Wing" executive producer, said through a spokeswoman that he had never had a conversation with NBC about the occasional NBC references that are written into his show's scripts.

"NBC Welcomes Promotion Synergy"
by Elizabeth Jensen
May 14, 2004
Los Angeles Times

For more information about this episode:
Continuity Guide to "The West Wing"
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