Black screen. "Access." The episode that will live in infamy.
We begin the actual documentary, I guess, with a C.J. interview, in her office. She tells the camera that, after Jed's, her face is the one people most associate with the administration. She insists, however, that her job is not well understood. As we watch her wrangle reporters at a press briefing, C.J. voices over that people tend to see her facing off with the press, and she claims that "there's a misconception" that her purpose is "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." At this point, there's a cut, and then C.J. is laughing that "this is a terrible idea." I could not agree more, although I guess she's in character. I will admit, though, that after some of the Eagle-Eyed Forum Posters noted that the actors might be improvising, I wondered if she wasn't. Then, with no transition of any kind, they cut again, and she's talking about the news cycle all of a sudden: "The breakneck pace we live at, the twenty-four-hour news cycle, is this good for the country? Is it inescapable? How do we reflect? Get perspective?" I'm not sure why, when we've seen this show address all these things in depth many times, anyone would think we would care to watch C.J. give an abbreviated, sound-bite, sounds-like- every-other- talking-head- on-television version of the same concerns, but clearly, it's time for me to stop asking why. All I'm doing is dragging it out for all of us, I know. It's hard to keep my mind on this, instead of on something more interesting, such as the drop of condensation currently making its way down the side of my can of Diet Coke with Lime.
Speaking of "how could anyone think I would want to watch this," we are now subjected to actual Frontline-style documentary footage of the sort that makes poor little children despise history until they get old enough to find out about all the sex and violence and the parts where people hide inside big wooden animals. As I sit winding and unwinding a rubber band around my finger, we are subjected to endless old movies of old presidential press secretaries and a cursory, dull, uninformative history of the job. Fortunately, there will be no quiz later.
Convinced that contrary to all indications, I care, Famous Narrator Guy wonders aloud, "What about the private aspects of this office? Given the current media explosion, how is this important job changing?" Blah blah blah, does the press secretary define America's relationship with the White House, blah blah blah. I'm afraid FNG is going to wind up with egg on his face, in that the "media explosion" isn't exactly going to be "current" three years from now when this is allegedly airing. I mean, by then, that newfangled internet thingamabob is going to be pretty old hat, I fear, as will round-the-clock cable news. FNG says that Access (the faux-show, don'tcha know) spent a day with C.J. in an effort to answer his burning questions. And by "burning questions," I mean "questions that should have caused the script to combust spontaneously with its very banality." Anyway. C.J. is talking again. "I see my job as making sure the press and, through them, the public is well-informed," she says in a different interview. "I tell them the truth," she says. Then there is a long pause. Solar systems are born and die. "That's my goal," she finally adds. FNG says that, as it happened, the Access cameras captured a day that "was anything but ordinary." He goes on to exposit that the day the crew witnessed was very harrowing for the administration. I begin counting repetitions of the pattern on my couch.