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Forum: The Situation Room > Walt Cummings Chief of Staff in season 4?

Hi all,

I just watched the last episodes of season 4 again, and I wonder why it is so frequently claimed that Walt Cummings was President Logan's Chief of Staff in Season 4? I see no evidence for that.

On the opposite, some details do not fit into that image:

1.) In episode 17, just before Logan is sworn into office, as Logan walks out the room to the ceremony before the press corps, Cummings respectfully stands back and does not follow the (designated) president directly, but instead walks out of the room after Mike Novick. If Cummings were (designated) Chief of Staff at this point he would be the second most powerful man in the US and at such an important public ceremony he would probably walk directly after the president.

2.) In episode 18 there is a conference beginning at 12:46:14. At the end of this conference Logan sends everybody out of the room by saying "Thank you, Gentlemen, that'll be all". Everybody except Novick stands up and also Walt Cummings intends to leave the room. If Cummings would be Logan's Chief of Staff it would certainly be clear to him that Logan wants him to stay.

3.) Cummings hardly plays any role in the plot around detecting the nuclear warhead, whereas Novick is continuously around either Logan or Palmer or both of them. In fact, in the four episodes between 02:00 and 06:00 Walt Cummings doesn't even appear.

4.) In episode 24, in the dialogue between Palmer and Logan which ends at 06:42 both refer to Cummings as Logan's security chief. IMO this very clearly indicates that Cummings is NOT Chief of Staff.

I am also not claiming that Novick is Logan's Chief of Staff on Season 4, most of all because of the cautious way he approaches Charles Logan in episode 17 after telling him that Airforce One was hit: "Charles, we have known each other for 15 years, if I can offer some advice?". - Which imo shows that Novick cannot have been very near to Logan recently. But on the other hand for the reasons listed above I'm quite sure that Cummings isn't Chief of Staff either.

My impression is that either the writers left it open who is CoS, or since Logan is overrun by that night's events he has not yet formally determined a CoS, since his presidency is only a couple of hours old and he's completely insecure of what to do anyway.

I'd like to hear your guys' opinion about this...? Who is CoS in Season 4?

And who in Season 5? (I remember I had some doubts about Cummings being CoS in Season 5, too, as I watched it the last time, but I can't say anything specific about it now. Going to watch this carefully next time...) B. harder 02:33, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

I always thought for a time that Cummings was Chief of Staff in Season 4, but after seeing this, I'm not so sure. As for Season 5, Cummings was definitely Chief of Staff, until he committed suicide, then Novick took over. ס Talk 02:20, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
Hi Samekh, can you provide us with some evidence for Cummings being Chief of Staff in Season 5? B. harder 03:46, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Another idea that just came to my mind is: maybe the writers left it open who is CoS because they were unsecure how the audience would react to Novick's return after him being the "bad guy" at Season 2.... that's of course speculation, but maybe they wanted to leave a backdoor open in case the audience wouldn't accept him .... Since he had not been formally established as CoS they could have easily let him disappear again. ok but now I promise I won't engage in further speculation.... B. harder 02:44, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
To begin, we need to remember the writers of 24 have been, for whatever reasons, just awful at labeling characters with titles/offices/position names. If I am correct, Lynne Kresge's position was never clarified. We're having all these concerns about the WHCoS. Any hope of piecing together some semblance of order regarding CTU's titles and hierachy falls apart like gelatin. And FOX's website almost never sheds any light.
Regarding B. harder's good observations of Walt's and Mike's behavior, they are accurate until a point. To address each of the numbered points, all of the first 3 conclusions are speculation: we don't know if, in the world of 24, (1) the CoS walks in front of the President like he does in the real world, (2) if Walt wasn't excused to accomplish some task in his office, regardless of his position in the government, or (3) if Cummings appearances or lack thereof indicates he is CoS. The fourth point though is certainly something to look into. At the heart of the matter is whether Walt was ever specifically labeled "Chief of Staff" in-universe. We only need to find a reference to that, and all our problems will be solved. If we can't find that reference, then it seems the editor who started calling Walt the CoS was working on an assumption. Blue Rook  talk  contribs 02:49, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
Hi Blue Rook,
yes, you're right, the crucial point is if Walt Cummings is ever referred to as Chief of Staff on the show.
And I agree with you that the first three points are not coercive at all. But I wouldn't say it's only speclations. I personally would rather see them as informal arguments of plausibility. Each of them, seen in isolation, does not have much impact, but in a complex pro-and-con argumentation they may add to the one or other side.
Each of your points regarding (1-3) is correct though, meaning that if somebody would find some conclusive evidence that Cummings is indeed WHCoS in Season 4 they could be overruled by this. One would then need to find some other interpretations of these scenes than the ones that I have given. One would then have to find some explanations like "Even though Cummings is WHCoS he doesn't appear in the four episodes where the most critical strand of action at the WH takes place...", or "Even though Cummings is WHCoS he believes that Logan means to send him out of the room with the others while Novick very naturally stays seated ..." - these points 1-3 would then be remarkable and contraintuitive aspects of Cummings behaviour as CoS that were in need of some explanation.
That's why I stick to these interpretations and I still believe they're the most plausible and natural interpretations of these scenes... until somebody points out some evidence that shows that Cummings is indeed CoS.
I personally wasn't able to detect any evidence for that. I have been watching for evidence on this question throughout the entire last 8 episodes of Season 4, because I had already before started to wonder about this point when I had been watching the season for the last time. I think if there was some evidence for Cummings being Chief of Staff I would have noticed. But one opinion of one viewer is certainly not enough for this discussion to come to a conclusion. Maybe we can find more evidence if somebody else is also going to watch for evidence on this. Maybe there is somebody out there who is Walt Cummings' fan and who wishes to advocate for him? ;) B. harder 03:46, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
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