Politics

Die-hard ‘West Wing’ fans keep show going by assuming characters identities on Twitter

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Barack Obama is not the President of the United States to these people.

Instead, a man named Matthew Santos leads the free world.

After seven seasons chronicling the presidency of fictional President Josiah Bartlet, NBC closed the curtain several years ago on the “West Wing” series. But that curtain stayed open for a number of die-hard fans.

Some are using Twitter to assume the identities of the fictional characters, keeping the dialogue going just like the show never ended. They write as if Santos — and not Obama — is president today, having moved into the White House after Bartlet’s eight years as the nation’s commander in chief.

Yes, it might be kind of weird. Those behind the Twitter accounts, though, say it’s all in good fun. “I think it’s a great way to keep the fans interested, as well as bring in new ones,” says the man who operates an account for the British woman-chasing character Lord John Marbury, who was the UK’s ambassador to the United States in the show.

But the guy behind the Marbury account — also known to fans of the show as the Earl of Croy, Earl of Sherborne, Marquess of Needham and Dolby, and Baronet of Brycey — is far from British aristocracy. In fact, he’s not even British. He’s just a 27-year-old politico from Oklahoma.

Others tweeting as if they were fictional White House aides or other characters from the series spend their days role-playing by reacting to real news, but through the lenses of their acquired identity. For example, when President Obama this weekend took an elbow to the mouth playing basketball, some likened it to the episode in season one of the “West Wing” when President Bartlet ran his bike into a tree in Jackson Hole.

The Daily Caller contacted others behind the most active “West Wing” character accounts. While most were more than enthusiastic to discuss their role-playing, none would agree to disclose their real identities.

“I don’t want to give out too much about my identity,” said one man behind a Bartlet account. “I think that some mystery as to who is behind these accounts is good, and that the less you know about me the better, to be frank. I’d rather they see Jed Bartlet when they read the tweets, and not me.”

Says the man behind the Marbury account: “I’m actually involved in politics and media and I don’t want what Lord_Marbury says to jeopardize my real life.”

It’s not exactly clear whether all the accounts have different people behind them. “I even suspect that several characters were created by the same person,” said one man who tweets under the character Admiral Percy Fitzwallace, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the show. “I myself have created an account for another [West Wing] character but I don’t really use it.”