Allison Janney Hijacks The White House Press Briefing As Her West Wing Character

The West Wing was one of the best shows on television for its seven seasons, and Allison Janney as Press Secretary C.J. Cregg was a big part of why the series could always strike a balance between drama and humor. Janney recently brought that balance to the real White House when she surprised a room full of reporters by walking out in full costume to the press podium in the place of current Press Secretary Josh Earnest to drop an epic callback to a legendary episode.

The callback is to a Season 1 episode of The West Wing in which Janney's character had emergency root canal surgery and wanted to cancel the press briefing – or “bwiefing,” as poor cotton-mouthed C.J. said – until such a time as she could speak clearly again. Unfortunately for C.J., Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman wasn’t particularly cooperative with her plan. Check it out!

Who needs enemies when you have coworkers like Josh Lyman? C.J.’s pain must have only gotten worse after her post-root canal walk-and-talk with Josh, and he certainly didn’t help with what he did when he took the podium to try to tackle the pwess bwiefing himself. We can be sure that Allison Janney as an actress could have covered for Josh Earnest better than Josh Lyman covered for C.J. Cregg.

Frankly, it would have been difficult for Allison Janney to find a way to do worse than Josh Lyman at a press briefing. Janney channeled the poise of her inner C.J. and chatted with the press about the opiod epidemic and the importance of support for those who are struggling to deal with substance abuse. The topic is one which Janney has handled on screen for her role as recovering addict Bonnie on CBS sitcom Mom.

Allison Janney took home the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress for Bonnie in 2014 and 2015 on top of her four Emmys from her years on The West Wing, so she was a perfect person to honor the White House Champions of Change group of individuals recognized for work with substance abuse issues. If only every political meeting was as clever and enjoyable as this.

The only downside of Allison Janney hijacking the White House press briefing is that it was a reminder that the glorious television days of The West Wing are long past, and we only have Netflix rewatches to sustain us. Luckily, Janney delivers consistently fabulous performances as Bonnie on Mom, so she’s definitely worth catching on Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. Be sure to check out our summer TV premiere schedule to see what else you’ll be able to watch in the near future.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).