April 16, 2003: Headlines: Peace Corps Directors - Gearan: Finger Lakes Times: Peace Corps Alumni Mark Gearan and Betty Currie bring "West Wing" to Hobart and William Smith College

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Directors of the Peace Corps: Mark Gearan: April 16, 2003: Headlines: Peace Corps Directors - Gearan: Finger Lakes Times: Peace Corps Alumni Mark Gearan and Betty Currie bring "West Wing" to Hobart and William Smith College

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Peace Corps Alumni Mark Gearan and Betty Currie bring "West Wing" to Hobart and William Smith College

Peace Corps Alumni Mark Gearan and Betty Currie bring "West Wing" to Hobart and William Smith College

'Real West Wing' coming to HWS

By KEVIN DeVALK Times Staff Writer

GENEVA — It’s a question that few people have the insight to answer: Is television’s “The West Wing” an accurate portrayal of life in the White House?

The answer is yes, at least according to Hobart and William Smith Colleges President Mark Gearan.

Gearan was the White House communications director during President Clinton’s first term. Gearan came to Geneva in 1999, just as the drama starring Martin Sheen went on the air, and he says he has been asked questions about the show ever since.

Some of his former colleagues are coming to Geneva next week for a discussion on the real-life West Wing.

Clinton’s former White House secretary, Betty Currie; former White House press secretary Jake Siewert; former presidential assistant Stephen Goodin; and Washington Post reporter John Harris are scheduled to join Gearan in the discussion at 7:30 p.m. April 24. The forum, at the Colleges’ Albright Auditorium, is free and open to the public.,

The speakers will present some footage of the fictional Josiah Bartlet’s administration, from the NBC Emmy-winning series and comment on how it stacks up against real life.

Gearan worked in the West Wing with Currie, Siewert and Goodin, and Harris was covering the White House at the time.

Although he’s only seen a few episodes, Gearan said he likes “The West Wing.”

“Many parts of it are very realistic,” he said.

Gearan also likes “his character,” deputy communications director Sam Seaborn, played by Rob Lowe, who is now off the show.

Because he still gets asked about the show, Gearan said he thought it would be fun to get a reporter and his former colleagues together for one of the events in his forum series.

While Gearan said the discussion won’t completely center around the show — the speakers are likely to talk about the war in Iraq and other current issues — he knows it will be of interest to those in attendance.

“In some ways, you get a better sense of it (the inner-workings of the White House) from the show than the news, because the news tends to bleed the excitement out of it,” said Siewert, who at one time worked under Gearan.

Siewert, who is vice president of communications and public strategy for Alcoa Corp. in New York City, said he’s seen “a fair amount of the show,” and he likes what he’s seen.

At the White House, he was deputy press secretary and became press secretary when Joe Lockhart left the position. The job is held by character C.J. Cregg (played by Allison Janney) on the television show.

Even dull days were action-packed, Siewert recalled, adding that some of the most memorable moments were when Clinton brought Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin together for peace talks and when Clinton got his economic plan approved in Congress in 1993.

Clinton’s re-election against Sen. Bob Dole turned out to be “a snooze of a campaign,” he recalled.

When the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Siewert recalled feeling frustrated because he wanted to talk about important issues, while the attention of the press and the public was focused on Clinton’s personal troubles.

Currie worked for 29 years in a number of federal departments and on the presidential campaigns of Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis. She worked for political strategist James Carville on the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1992.

As Clinton’s secretary, Gearan recalled that Currie worked long hours and took guests on tours of the White House.

“Her perspective (on the president) is almost unparalleled,” Gearan said.

Goodin traveled often with Clinton and was seen with the president during appearances.

Harris, who is on leave from the Post to write about the Clinton administration, will be able to answer questions from the perspective of a journalist who worked in the White House, Gearan said.

The guests have been invited to stay in Geneva with the Gearans at the president’s house.

Harris is originally from Rochester. Siewert grew up in Syracuse.

When this story was posted in October 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers Kerry reaches out to Returned Volunteers
The Kerry campaign wants the RPCV vote. Read our interview with Dave Magnani, Massachusetts State Senator and Founder of "RPCVs for Kerry," and his answers to our questions about Kerry's plan to triple the size of the Peace Corps, should the next PC Director be an RPCV, and Safety and Security issues. Then read the "RPCVs for Kerry" statement of support and statements by Dr. Robert Pastor, Ambassador Parker Borg, and Paul Oostburg Sanz made at the "RPCVs for Kerry" Press Conference.

RPCV Carl Pope says the key to winning this election is not swaying undecided voters, but persuading those already willing to vote for your candidate to actually go to the polls.

Take our poll and tell us what you are doing to support your candidate.

Finally read our wrap-up of the eight RPCVs in Senate and House races around the country and where the candidates are in their races.

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Story Source: Finger Lakes Times

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