Something I read last week made me laugh harder than I have all year. I mean holding-my-sides, tears-in-my-eyes laughing.
It wasn’t the comics page. It wasn’t a comedy novel. It wasn’t a funny text from my friend. It was Anthony Scaramucci’s interview with New Yorker Writer Ryan Lizza.
It was hilarious. As a journalist, I could just picture Lizza’s face on the other end of the phone as “The Mooch” blurted out the many profanities, accusations and threats which filled the article. I can’t believe he didn’t laugh.
Scaramucci was the new White House director of communications. Communication was his job, yet he seems to lack the skills and knowledge to effectively communicate with a reporter.
The call started because of leaks. Lizza had tweeted earlier citing a “senior White House official” as a source.
The Mooch hates leakers. And so should he. While leakers can help get suppressed truth to the public, it also makes being the director of communications difficult. Some information is best released at a certain time or in a certain way. Some information may need to be triple and quadruple checked before going out to the public. Some information may be too sensitive for the public at large.
Leaks make planning for the release of information difficult.
So Scaramucci doesn’t like leakers, and he calls Lizza to ask who leaked to him. Lizza doesn’t care to tell him.
Let’s pause. At this point in time. The Mooch could’ve said something like: “Okay. I understand. But I will find out, and don’t expect to get a scoop from my department again.” And hung up the phone.
But that’s not his style.
The Mooch first threatened to fire the entire white house communications staff, then decided to keep unloading about some other folks he didn’t like — all on the record.
The Mooch accused Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus of having a mental disorder, and Chief Strategist Steve Bannon of worse. And it was all printed — in the New Yorker, online, on pretty little quote cards.
There was backlash, and Scaramucci said he made a mistake by trusting a reporter, but as director of communications, this is his fault.
He should know that saying “off the record” — which The Mooch failed to do by the way — still isn’t some magic shield allow folks to unload to reporters. Reporters give folks off the record out of respect hoping it will lead them to a story or provide insight to help better explain the story at hand, but it does not exist outside of a courtesy.
Even if Lizza had granted “off the record” to Scaramucci, when he began saying those things, Lizza was determining whether this was newsworthy enough to burn Scaramucci as a source — knowing he’d never talk to him again.
Apparently Lizza decided that it was. And burning The Mooch didn’t hurt him terribly.
When new Chief of Staff John Kelly took over Monday, he fired Scaramucci — after only 10 days on the job.
The Mooch wasn’t all bad at his job though. He had mastered the gesticulation of President Trump — if you don’t believe me, watch videos of both of them speaking. This is important for a director of communications, as it further reinforces that you are on the same page, speaking the same message.
So Scaramucci had talent, but he made a really dumb, really hilarious mistake. It brought me much joy, but also sadness, as it highlighted the high level of turnover the White House has seen in just seven months.
So thanks for the laughs. Our short time together brought me much joy. I’ll tell my grandchildren about the days of Anthony Scaramucci — The man, the Mooch, the legend.
— Chance Hoener is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ReporterChance.