Just imagine how ‘Scandal’s’ Olivia Pope might handle the Chris Christie bridge scandal

January 9, 2014

Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in a scene from “Scandal.” (AP Photo/ABC, Eric McCandless)

(The following is satire. Obviously.)


CHRIS is standing by a conference table in a bright, high-ceilinged room. He’s fidgeting and sweating slightly. A door slams offscreen.

Harrison, I need those files on Obamacare now! How far are we on —

OLIVIA enters, walking briskly, wearing a white pant suit. She stops abruptly when she sees Chris.

Governor! What … are you doing here?

I gotta level with you, Liv. These people have really got me in a corner.

The bridge?

Yeah, the damn bridge. I —

OLIVIA (interrupting him, yelling)
Harrison! Obamacare!

— I’m gonna need your help. I don’t know what to do with this one.

OLIVIA (yelling)
Nevermind, Harrison!

OLIVIA throws her coat over an office chair. They both sit down. OLIVIA leans over the table.

OLIVIA (continued)
I have one rule, Chris. The truth. I need to know how much damage we’re talking about here. I need to know exactly what kind of bridge you’ve burned. And if you don’t tell me the truth, I’ll burn you. You think you can do that?

Yeah, yeah. Of course.

Tell me what happened.

They got e-mails between Bridget and David. The newspapers do. I was lied to, Liv.

Bridget? Your chief of staff?

Yeah, and David at the Port Authority. Bridget told them to shut those lanes down, that damn idiot. What the hell was she thinking? I don’t know, Liv, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching, and I really don’t know. I try to hire the best people…

Why did Bridget shut the lanes down?

OLIVIA begins typing frantically on her conspicuously branded Windows phone.

I don’t know. I don’t know whether this was a traffic study that morphed into a political vendetta, or a vendetta that morphed into a traffic study — it was about the mayor of Fort Lee. Mark something. I don’t know, that guy’s not even on my radar.

OLIVIA (incredulous, reading from phone)
“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee?”

I know. It’s damn stupid.

Who has these e-mails?


The media?


Okay, we need to shut this down.

OLIVIA (continued, yelling)
Harrison! Get me everything you can find on Bridget Kelly!

Got it!

Governor, you’re going to fire Bridget immediately. Not later, not tomorrow — immediately. You can use my phone. Don’t mince words, don’t tread lightly. You have a window here to condemn her e-mails, and you need to take it. We need to make it clear that Bridget is the worst kind of soulless, political —

CHRIS (interrupting)
Listen, Liv, I don’t know if I want to engage —

Tomorrow there will be a press conference. You will stand at a podium, in front of a New Jersey flag. No — two flags. You will express your deep embarrassment and humiliation over this terrible matter you knew nothing about. You will make it clear you didn’t care about Mark Sokolich. You never met him. You don’t know him. You couldn’t pick him out of a line up. You’ve done a lot of soul-searching — and say that governor, soul-searching — and your only concern is the trust of the people of New Jersey. You are sorry. You are very, very sorry. Do you understand?

Yeah, I —

After the press conference we’ll set something up. CNN, ABC, PostTV — I’ll figure that out. But in the meantime, you need to take this very, very seriously.

OLIVIA leans in across table, staring intently into CHRIS’s eyes.

OLIVIA (quietly, continued)
This isn’t just about bridges, governor, and you know that. You have more at stake. You have 2016. You have the presidential run. You have the distant hope of getting out of New Jersey. This press conference could be the difference between future victory and defeat.

CHRIS blanches, looking surprised. They both lean back slowly. There are footsteps offscreen. HARRISON enters, holding a file folder.

Olivia, I have that file on Bridget Kelly —

HARRISON stops abruptly, sensing tension in the room. He looks between OLIVIA and CHRIS and hesitates at the door.

Okay, well when you need it…

HARRISON sets the folder down and exits.

[Thumbs through file] Governor, let’s recap, shall we? Go back to New Jersey and think about what you’re going to say to your constituents tomorrow. When you’re talking to them, you’ll maintain eye contact. You will speak confidently and clearly. You will make it clear that you were blindsided and that you had nothing, NOTHING to do with this childish act of political retribution.

Don’t try to figure out what happened — that’s my job and I’ll be there to help you through it. Tomorrow, before the press conference, it will be business as usual. You’ll go to the gym, you’ll do everything that you normally do. You did nothing wrong, Governor. Your constituents won’t believe it if you don’t. And if I find out that you knew anything about this, you’ll be…

… I know. [Beat] I’m familiar with your work.

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