Of the 19 living White House chiefs of staff interviewed by filmmakers Gedeon and Jules Naudet (“9/11”) and exec producer/former ABC News guy Chris Whipple, for their Discovery Channel program “The Presidents’ Gatekeepers,” Rahm Emanuel was the toughest interview.
While the 18 others gave them 3-4 hour interviews — Dick Cheney talked for seven hours in two sessions — Emanuel “did a 3-hour interview in about an hour and 15 minutes,” Whipple told TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2013 of President Obama’s first chief of staff, how mayor of Chicago.
“We have this extraordinary setup…called an Interrotron -- the subject is looking into a monitor, and as the interviewer, I’m actually sitting off to the side behind a curtain looking at a monitor,” Whipple explained.
“[Emanuel] took one look at this and said, “What the blank is this? This is like some contraption out of Guantanamo.”
“We thought, ‘He’s out of here.’ The only thing we could think to say was, ‘Well, maybe that’s why Cheney stayed for five hours’,” Whipple said, adding, that the pugnacious Emanuel “was just a challenge throughout.”
Discovery will run the four-hour special over two nights in July.
Emanuel did, however, tell one of the program’s most interesting stories, about his very first day on the job. While Obama was taking the oath of office in the White House, Emanuel and his predecessor Josh Bolten were in the Situation Room “to deal with a terrorist threat on the South Lawn.”
Emanuel’s successor, Bill Daley, however, had to deal with Eric Stonestreet.
At the White House Correspondents Dinner the night before the planned raid on Osama Bin Laden, Daley found himself sitting at a table with the “Modern Family” star who, checking his blackberry, suddenly announced, “My White House tour has been cancelled – what the hell is going on?!”
ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, also at the table, turned to Daley and said, “What’s up?” Daley told Stonestreet it was a broken pipe in the White House and told him to “calm down,” promising to give Stonestreet a personal tour that Monday, Whipple said.