Discovery Channel back to its roots with ‘The President’s Gatekeepers’

Great new documentary on White House politics continues tonight. Photo: Discovery/The President's Gatekeepers

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2013 —Recent Discovery Channel programming has seemed like an endless, dreary parade of dubious reality programming and phony, manufactured drama with shows like “Amish Mafia,” “Naked and Afraid” and “Moonshiners” dominating its schedule. This is what makes the network’s newest addition, “The President’s Gatekeepers” such a pleasant surprise.

Rather than exploiting the fringe elements of society, Discovery has gone back to its educational roots with a show that gives us an inside look at what is arguably the toughest job in government. The President’s Gatekeepers” focuses on all 20 living White House Chiefs of Staff sharing never-before-told stories from their days in the White House.

SEE RELATED: TV tonight: ‘The World According to Dick Cheney’ on Showtime

What do the White House Chiefs of Staff do? Remember the man who whispered in George W. Bush’s ear on Sept. 11, 2001 while he sat in a classroom full of innocent school kids in Florida? That was Andrew Card, the White House Chief of Staff at the time.

Last night’s episode of “The President’s Gatekeepers” shed some light on this moment that may surprise some. Card made the decision to inform the President with one simple sentence. With no hint of panic he quietly whispered to President Bush, “A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack.”

Card’s actions were a perfect example of how White House Chiefs of Staff do their job. From one crisis to the next, it is their mission to deliver the news to the president that no one else wants to share. In “The President’s Gatekeepers,” the former Chiefs of Staff describe their job as everything from point guard to heat shield for the President, so it is no wonder that the average Chief lasts less than two years.

White House Chiefs of Staff are the men who stand between the rest of the world and the President. They are the men behind the curtain we are supposed to ignore, but the responsibilities they carry make these men some of the most powerful figures in government. In the documentary, it is obvious they share an experience that transcends politics. Most evident is the enduring respect they have for one another based on a mutual understanding of the difficult job they all once held.

SEE RELATED: Reality TV crosses the line with ‘Hatfields & McCoys’

It is encouraging to see a lack of partisanship among these men, given today’s divisive political climate. It is likewise refreshing to see Discovery Channel get back to informing its loyal audience with a program of substance rather than continuing to insult us with useless reality TV nonsense.

We can only hope it is the start of a trend.

Tonight’s viewing:

All times are EDT:

8 p.m.

ABC: Shark Tank: (Repeat) Billy Blanks Jr. asks the sharks to invest in a dance fitness program; a music producer seeks an investment in a rock band; two college students pitch their flavored peanut butter business.

CBS: The Big Bang Theory: (Repeat) he women’s Vegas vacation is called off, so the men invite them to play Dungeons & Dragons, which has a most unusual effect on Amy and Sheldon. Meanwhile, Raj and Lucy’s date goes less than perfectly.

FOX: The X Factor: (New) The live auditions continue.

NBC: Million Second Quiz: (Live) Contestants face off in intense trivia bouts in the series premiere of this interactive game show. Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, who is also an executive producer.

CW: The Vampire Diaries: (Repeat) Damon and Stefan try to get Elena to become more humane, but their approach is brutal. 

8:30 p.m.

CBS: 2013 CBS Fall Preview: (New) A preview of the fall 2013 CBS schedule.

9 p.m.

ABC: Wipeout: (New) Twelve nerds and 12 beauties battle it out as they face obstacles that include Medieval Castle, Candy Shop and Octopushy.

CBS: Big Brother: (Live) Another houseguest is evicted and the final three are determined.

NBC: Hollywood Game Night: (Repeat) Party-game celebrity players are Sean Hayes, Dax Shepard and “Saturday Night Live” personalities Maya Rudolph, Jason Sudeikis, Fred Armisen and Amy Poehler.

CW: America’s Next Top Model: (Repeat) A challenge requires the models to explore the streets of Los Angeles in their underwear.

10 p.m.

ABC: Rookie Blue: (New) Following violent, targeted attacks on 15 Division, the officers must piece together a past crime in order to find Oliver; the shooter’s plan is revealed. 

CBS: Elementary: (Repeat) Holmes deals with the sudden reappearance of his former lover, Irene Adler, and recalls the events that led to his drug addiction. Meanwhile, Moriarty pursues Sherlock and Joan.

NBC: Hollywood Game Night: (Repeat) Contestants team up with celebrities to play a series of party games in this competition show.

Basic cable:

New episodes of:

The President’s Gatekeepers at 9 p.m. on DSC

The First 48 at 9 p.m. on A&E

Mysteries at the Museum at 9 p.m. on Travel Channel

Burn Notice at 9 p.m. on USA

Project Runway at 9 p.m. on LIFE

Four Weddings: Unveiled at 9 p.m. on TLC

Anger Management at 9:30 p.m. on FX

How Do They Do It? at 10 p.m. on SCI

Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell at 10 p.m. on Food Channel

Let it Ride at 10 p.m. on NGC

Four Weddings at 10 p.m. on TLC

House Hunters at 10 p.m. on HGTV

Gracelend at 10 p.m. on USA

Owner’s Manual at 10:30 p.m. on AMC

House Hunters International at 10:30 p.m. on HGTV

For movie lovers:

8 p.m.

Goldfinger on ENC

D3: The Mighty Ducks on FLIX

Kings of New York on SUND

Picnic on TCM

Born on the Forth of July on TMC
9 p.m.

Safe House on HBO

Argo on HBO

The Dark Night Rises on MOM AX

Later tonight:

Bulletproof Monk at 9:15 p.m. on SHO

Billy Elliot at 9:45 p.m. on FLIX

Total Recall at 9:50 p.m. on ENC

Machete at 10 p.m. on FX

Cabin Fever at 10 p.m. on IFC

Pal Joey at 10 p.m. on TCM

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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.


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