White House Communications Director during the Bartlett Administration. Caustic and hostile, but also a passionate defender of such programs as the National Endowment of the Arts and Public Broadcasting, Toby functions as the moral barometer of the Bartlett White House.
Tobias Zachary “Toby” Ziegler served for the better part of eight years as White House Communications Director during the two administrations of Democratic President Josiah Bartlett. Though a seasoned political operative by the time of his association with then-Governor Bartlett’s campaign, having worked on New York City Council, Bronx Borough President and U.S. House and Senate races, Bartlett was the first candidate that he worked for who actually won.
Something of a curmudgeon, Toby is known for his acerbic wit, his attention to grammatical correctness, his often short temper and his affection for single malt scotch, cigars and baseball. Particularly sensitive to perceived disloyalty, Toby is known to react poorly on those occasions when people he trusts have seemingly betrayed their principles or failed to live up to Toby’s expectations of them.
In spite of his at-times caustic personality, Toby stands out among his fellow White House staffers as possessing the most sensitive moral barometer; while certainly no stranger to political expediency, Toby often insists on taking a difficult path because he regards it as the right thing to do. As a result of this tendency, he is also the most likely among his co-workers to clash with the President by openly challenging his moral evaluation of a given situation. On more than one occasion this has led to periods of animosity developing between Toby and President Bartlett, though these intervals rarely last for very long and frequently result in a strengthening of loyalty and trust between the two men.
Among his fellow staffers, Toby is closest to C. J. Cregg and Sam Seaborn, with whom he possesses a rather fraternal relationship. Having met C. J. while working on a political campaign prior to their respective involvement with “Bartlett for America,” she and Toby form a highly capable, if sometimes tumultuous, partnership as Communications Director and Press Secretary, between them effectively shaping the public persona of the Bartlett White House. That said, disagreements between the two, when they do occur, tend to hit hard and are not easily resolved.
Toby and Sam, as President Bartlett’s principle speechwriters, work more closely with each other than with any other member of the White House senior staff; though their philosophical disagreements are many, their respect for each other’s abilities and dedication to the task of genuine public service makes them a formidable duo. Symptomatic of their closeness, Toby took a temporary leave of absence to take over Sam’s failing Orange County congressional campaign in the show’s fourth season. Though he was certain that Sam would lose his election bid in a spectacular fashion and would no doubt be pelted with rocks by the voters of Orange County the week after his defeat, Toby felt that it was important to stand next to his friend should such an event come to pass.