C.J. Cregg served on the senior staff of President Josiah Bartlet, first as White House Press Secretary, and then White House Chief of Staff after Leo McGarry resigned during the second term of the Bartlet administration. Cregg previously worked in Public Relations.
As White House Press Secretary, C.J. was sharp, well-spoken and witty. She wasn’t pleased to discover her Secret Service codename, “Flamingo”, a bird she described as “ridiculous-looking”.
On festive occasions, C.J. could be persuaded to perform a dead-on lip sync of The Jackal by Ronnie Jordan, which Sam Seaborn described as “Shakespeare the way it’s meant to be done”. Oftentimes she was also good-naturedly competitive about her comparative education with other senior staffers like Josh Lyman and Toby Ziegler.
C.J, a catholic, grew up in Dayton, Ohio, with two brothers, the only daughter of Talmidge Cregg, a Math Professor.
She graduated from West Dayton High School and was the first female player to dunk a basketball in Ohio high school history.
Her mother died when she was young, and her father remarried twice.
A National Merit Scholar, C.J. attended college at Williams College and later earned a master's degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. Her undergraduate major is never disclosed.
Before the White House, C.J. worked with Emily's List and as a PR agent at the California public relations company, Triton Day where she earned $550,000 a year. She was fired from that job in October 1997 and her old friend, Toby Ziegler, recruited her to the Josiah Bartlet presidential campaign, Bartlet For America, the same day. He told her Josiah Bartlet was impressed by the work C.J. had done at EMILY's List, then admits Bartlet has never heard of her: she is his and Leo McGarry's choice.
C.J. was at the Newseum in Rosslyn, Virginia when the President and his staff were fired upon by white supremacists. She remembered being knocked down early and noticed her necklace missing, later figuring out Sam was the one who pushed her out of harm’s way.
C.J. often championed contrary views on many volatile topics in the West Wing, such as weapons sales to Q’umar and the right of the public to be told things that may cause panic and chaos.
In the season 2 episode, The Drop In, CJ travels to New York to receive an award from New York Women in Communications
Toward the end of Bartlet’s first term, she received death threats after publicly criticizing Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women and was assigned protection by Secret Service agent Simon Donovan, with whom she began an unrealized romance. As President Bartlet and his entourage visited New York to watch “The Wars of the Roses”, the FBI told him they’d arrested the culprit; he pulled C.J. out of the crowd to privately deliver the news and, no longer held up by duty, they kissed. Minutes after, however, he unknowingly walked into a local grocery shop in the middle of an armed robbery and, after cuffing one gunman, was shot and killed by another. C.J. was visibly distraught after learning of this (“Posse Comitatus”).
Shortly before President Bartlet’s Second Inauguration, she returned home to deliver a speech at her 20th high school reunion, and visited her father suffering from Alzheimer’s and struggling to cope after his third wife (C.J.’s previous English teacher) left him. C.J. wrestled with the reality of her dad’s declining condition; after taking him to a doctor, she attempted to give her speech but was called back to Washington due to threats to American embassies in Asia.
In the fifth season, it is revealed that C.J. had a one-night stand with Vice President John Hoynes, who was married at the time, approximately four years before the Bartlet administration entered the White House. She tells Toby that she considers that night to be one of the greatest mistakes of her life.
Chief Of Staff
Midway through Bartlet’s second term, Leo McGarry suffered a near-fatal heart attack and was forced to resign his position as White House Chief of Staff. At Leo’s advice, Bartlet named C.J. his successor. In spite of initial warmth (the pressroom gives C.J. a standing ovation when Bartlet announces her appointment), C.J. receives criticism on her appointment to the position of chief of staff because of her relative lack of foreign policy experience. After a rough period “learning the ropes”, C.J. grows into the role. The episode The Wake Up Call marks a significant turning point in C.J.'s relationship with both the President and her new role, when she tells Bartlet he needs to trust her to do her job after an international crisis involving Iran.
After graduating from Georgetown, Charlie Young began passing his résumé around the West Wing. CJ, newly appointed as Chief of Staff, asked Charlie to stay in the West Wing as a special aide to the Chief of Staff.
By the seventh season, C.J. is as confident with her new role as she was with her old, and has learned to gauge the President's mood and when he will be most receptive of her ideas. She successfully navigates the murky waters of UN politics, setting up a UN Security Council resolution to end a humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan.
Late in the term, C.J. was initially suspected of leaking classified information about a secret military space shuttle to New York Times correspondent Greg Brock, until Toby Ziegler confessed to it and was fired.
After Matthew Santos won the presidential election to succeed Bartlet, Josh Lyman attempted to recruit C.J. into his administration; she was also offered several lucrative positions at major corporations. In the end, she decided to take up Franklin Hollis' offer to become the CEO of his new charitable foundation to build highways and other infrastructure in Africa,
C.J.’s foremost romantic relationship on the show was her long, on-off flirtation with Senior Washington Post White House correspondent Danny Concannon, whom she felt she couldn’t date for conflicts of interest in their respective jobs.
[In an unaired scene from The Short List, where she and Leo Mcgarry are in the President's limo on the way back from the Supreme Court, Leo explicitly tells her, "I don't want you dating Danny Concannon. I see him with you and I know you've got a little thing." C.J protests that she doesn't and states she won't talk about it with the President in the car.]
Danny spent several of the early seasons trying to woo C.J. After Josh Lyman tipped him off about her love of ‘goldfish’, he gifted her a live one before being told by C.J. herself that what she liked was Goldfish crackers. She was amused by the gesture & kept the fish, who Danny had named 'Gail', throughout her time at the White House; a staple feature on her desk. Gail’s decoration would change from episode to episode—ranging from a miniature White House, a miniature Presidential podium (often seen around the State of the Union), to many other relevant decorations that matched the specific episode’s theme.
At the start of President Bartlet’s second term and after a two-year absence from the Press Room, Danny returned (surprising C.J. in the press room, dressed as Santa). He returned after hearing a first-hand account of a Bermuda signal agent having the day off when Q’umari defense minister Abdul ibn Sharif’s plane went off radar 85 miles off of Bermuda. Thus, he attempts to break the story of the Bartlet administration’s assassination of Sharif, again putting him in direct conflict with C.J. Yet she urges him in fairness to post his story after his agreement to delay it for two days due to plausible threats (and Zoey Bartlet’s eventual kidnapping), once it’s clear President Walken might break the story himself.
Sometime after C.J. became White House Chief of Staff, during the last few months of the Bartlet Administration, Danny returns once again and invites C.J. to a dinner date. Though she intended to delay their relationship until President Bartlet was out of office, they end up getting together shortly after Leo’s fatal heart attack and remain lovers during her last two months in office, but she hesitates to define their relationship, and the lack of communication about their future increasingly frustrates him. After a fight two weeks before the Inauguration, C.J. finally agrees to prioritize herself, choosing Danny, and Franklin Hollis’s extraordinary offer.
In the flashforward to the dedication of the Bartlett Presidential Library (shown at the beginning of The Ticket), CJ is shown to be living in Santa Monica, California with Danny and their child.
- 1997: Public Relations Agent at Triton-Day
- 1998-2005: White House Press Secretary
- 2005-2007: White House Chief of Staff
- 2007-present: President & CEO of the Frank Hollis Foundation
- Member of EMILY's List
- Worked on a New York Senatorial Campaign with Toby Ziegler
- 1998 Campaign Spokeswoman for the "Bartlet for America" presidential campaign
- 1999-2005: White House Press Secretary
- 2005-2007: White House Chief of Staff
- C.J Cregg – Well, I've got a staff meeting to go to and so do you, you elitist, Harvard, fascist, missed-the-dean's-list-two-semesters-in-a-row Yankee jackass!
- Josh Lyman – Feel better getting that off your chest there, C.J.?
- C.J Cregg – I'm a whole new woman.
- C.J Cregg – Men are like salmon. Swimming upstream, hosing down the riverbed with their indiscriminate seed
- The character may be loosely based on Bill Clinton’s first Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers, who also served as a consultant to the show.
- Allison Janney won two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (2000, 2001) and two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (2002, 2004) for her portrayal of C.J. Cregg. She was nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actress category twice more (2003, 2006) but did not win.
- Janney also took home numerous awards and nominations from the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Awards.
- C.J.'s lip-synched performance of "The Jackal" by Ronny Jordan in the episode "Six Meetings Before Lunch" was written in after Sorkin witnessed Janney doing "some impromptu lip-synching" in her trailer on the set.
|Season 5 appearances|
|"7A WF 83429"||"The Dogs of War"||"Jefferson Lives"||"Han"||"A Constituency of One"|
|"Disaster Relief"||"Separation of Powers"||"Shutdown"||"Abu el Banat"||"The Stormy Present"|
|"Opposition Research"||"Slow News Day"||"The Warfare of Genghis Khan"||"An Khe"||"Full Disclosure"|
|"Eppur Si Muove"||"The Supremes"||"Access"||"Talking Points"||"No Exit"|
|Season 6 appearances|
|"NSF Thurmont"||"The Birnam Wood"||"Third-Day Story"||"Liftoff"||"The Hubbert Peak"|
|"The Dover Test"||"A Change Is Gonna Come"||"In The Room"||"Impact Winter"||"Faith Based Initiative"|
|"Opposition Research"||"365 Days"||"King Corn"||"The Wake Up Call"||"Freedonia"|
|"Drought Conditions"||"A Good Day"||"La Palabra"||"Ninety Miles Away"||"In God We Trust"|
|"Things Fall Apart"||"2162 Votes"|
|Season 7 appearances|
|"The Ticket"||"The Mommy Problem"||"Message of the Week"||"Mr. Frost"||"Here Today"|
|"The Al Smith Dinner"||"The Debate"||"Undecideds"||"The Wedding"||"Running Mates"|
|"Internal Displacement"||"Duck and Cover"||"The Cold"||"Two Weeks Out"||"Welcome to Wherever You Are"|
|"Election Day (Part I)"||"Election Day (Part II)"||"Requiem"||"Transition"||"The Last Hurrah"|
Notes and references
|White House Press Secretary
|White House Chief of Staff