News & Politics

Watch an Exclusive Clip of Discovery’s White House Chief of Staff Documentary

In “The President's Gatekeepers,” former White House chiefs of staff compare their job to that of a point guard, quarterback, and other metaphors.

For a position routinely described as the “worst job in the world,” the White House chief of staff isn’t a terrible gig. If anything, it’s generally a pretty good launchpad to higher office (Dick Cheney, Rahm Emanuel) or at least a lucrative spot on the paid speaking appearance circuit (pretty much all of them).

It’s also a job that gets described with mixed sports metaphors, judging from a exclusive clip Washingtonian received from The Presidents’ Gatekeepers, a four-hour documentary airing tonight and Thursday at 9 PM on Discovery. In the clip below, Jack Watson, who served as President Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff, compares the job to that of a point guard, and then to that of a quarterback.

The metaphors jump again when the narrator says the chief of staff “is also the president’s consigliere, the enforcer who makes sure the administration is focused on his agenda.”

Perhaps former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was President Bill Clinton’s second chief of staff, puts it best: “You’ve gotta be the son of a bitch who basically tells somebody what the president can’t tell them.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.