Tobias “Toby” Ziegler was born and raised in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn in New York City. His father, Jules “Julie” Ziegler, had been involved in organized crime since before Toby’s birth. He had a brother, David, who was a NASA astronaut. He grew a diehard fan of the New York Yankees, once claiming to have seen 441 games at Yankee Stadium, and often expressed disdain at their rivals in the American League East division.
A longtime professional political operative, Toby worked on a Bronx borough president race, a city council campaign, two Congressional races, Senatorial and gubernatorial races and the two Bartlet presidential campaigns. The 1998 Presidential Election was his first win.
Toby was hired as White House Communications Director for President Josiah Bartlet—later learning he hadn’t been his first choice. His primary responsibility was to coordinate the administration’s “message” and ensure its proper delivery by administration officials and allies in Washington. He was also the President’s primary speechwriter, sharing responsibility for the highest-priority speeches with Sam Seaborn, and served as a senior domestic policy advisor.
He was close friends with the other senior staff members and had a good working relationship with assistants Ginger and Bonnie. His prickly, dour personality was unsettling to strangers but endearing to friends. He often threw a rubber ball at the window separating his office from Sam’s to get him to come quickly; he continued the tradition when Sam was replaced by Will Bailey—who, trying to work out his frustration with the second inaugural address, shattered the window with a throw of his own.
Early in Bartlet’s first term, Toby separated from, and later divorced, his wife Congresswoman Andrea Wyatt of Maryland. They had clashed over her desire to keep trying to conceive a child, while he wanted to consider adoption (“a stop date” he said, before correcting himself). Three years later they conceived fraternal twins, named Huckleberry (“Huck”) after Andie’s grandfather, and Molly after a Secret Service agent gunned down during Zoey Bartlet’s abduction.
Toby, along with the rest of the senior staff, was in Rosslyn, Virginia when white supremacists opened fire on the crowd. He was unhurt but worried when he couldn’t see Josh Lyman; he found him slumped against a wall with a critical gunshot torso wound and screamed for help.
Toby had no trouble ‘speaking truth to power’ and frequently confronted the President and all team members on what he felt were examples of political cowardice or moral failure—the sole exception being Mrs. Landingham, whom he went out of his way not to fight or offend.
He was the first senior staff member (after Chief of Staff Leo McGarry) to suspect of Bartlet’s multiple sclerosis, figuring something was wrong when Vice-President John Hoynes held an event in New Hampshire (a critical state in presidential primaries). As Bartlet revealed the disease and his concealment, Toby grew angry and confrontational, but then cooled down and offered support to his colleagues when it was their turn to speak to the President.
Toby was heavily involved in the 2002 reelection campaign, which he made about “smart or not, engaged or not”; he called Bartlet “a heavyweight” and urged him to focus the campaign on it. Along with Josh Lyman and Donna Moss, he was left behind by the Presidential motorcade during a campaign stop in Indiana; they spent 20 hours trying to make their way home, constantly running into obstacles along the way. Early in the day he’d lost a bet with Josh and was forced to say “I work at the White House” along with his name. That evening he struck up a conversation with a bar patron who had taken his daughter to visit Notre Dame, but worried about how he’d pay for her education. This inspired Toby and Josh to advocate a plan making college tuition tax-deductible for Americans under a certain income threshold.
During the final year of Bartlet’s second term, classified information on a military space shuttle was leaked to New York Times correspondent Greg Brock. As staffers were subpoenaed and intense scrutiny began to fall on then Chief of Staff C.J., Toby confessed to her to be the leak’s source. He was fired and became the target of federal prosecution; because of this, he sat in the back of the church during the funeral of Leo McGarry. His relationship with Josh, already strained after Lyman’s resignation to run Matthew Santos’s presidential campaign, was tested again by the shuttle scandal but, despite several tense exchanges, he unofficially advised Josh during the campaign’s final weeks.
Toby was pardoned of his crime by President Bartlet in what turned out to be the latter’s final official act before leaving the White House.
A “flash-forward” reveals Toby had become a professor at Columbia University at the time of the Bartlet Presidential Library’s dedication, his relationship with his colleagues and the President seeming quite repaired.
- He attended the City University of New York, but his undergraduate major is unknown. It’s known that amongst his postgraduate degrees is a law degree, although his alma mater is unknown.
- Political Campaign Consultant for the New York City Council
- Political Campaign Consultant for the Bronx Borough President
- Political Campaign Consultant for the US House of Representatives
- Political Campaign Consultant for the US Senate
- Political Campaign Consultant for the New York Gubernatorial race
- 1997-1998 : Communications Director for the “Bartlet for America” presidential campaign
- 1999-2006 : White House Communications Director and Senior Domestic Policy Advisor
- In Clement Rollins’s list of subpoenas, his name is given as “Toby Zachary Ziegler” (“Ways and Means”). However, while being deposed by Freedom Watch regarding a lawsuit brought against Andrea for failing to disclose her pregnancy during the 2002 election, he states his full name as “Tobias Zachary Ziegler” (“Holy Night”).
- And It's Surely to Their Credit: Sam Seaborn points out to Leo that everyone present in the room at that time is a lawyer, including Toby.
|White House Communications Director
1999 – 2006