Glad-handing hedge-funder turned White House press chief has reignited the comic potential of Trump presidency. It’s too bad he won’t last past the end of this sentence
By Matt Taibbi
I already miss Anthony Scaramucci. Of course, he hasn’t officially been fired yet (checks Twitter), or committed suicide by jumping into boiling steak fat at his Gotti-esque Hunt and Fish Club restaurant in Manhattan (checks Twitter again). But it sure seems like he’s not long for this earth. Even by Trumpian standards, has any federal official had a more disastrous rollout?
The big headline this morning is that the new White House Communications Director got upset and decided to call Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker and go full-on Glengarry Glen Ross without asking for background or off-the-record privileges.
In the call, Scaramucci hounded Lizza to give up his sources, threatened to fire the entire White House communications staff, and gave what Saddam Hussein would have described as the mother of all quotes in an effort to bash fellow backstabbing Trump insider Steve Bannon:
“I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President.”
Bannon declined to comment on Scaramucci’s charge that he sucks his own cock.
It’s hard to believe that it was barely a week ago, on July 21st, that Scaramucci was given Trump’s top press job. It feels like it was millions of years in the past, back when Africa was still connected to Brazil, and Sean Spicer was still our idea of a national embarrassment. This is the way time works in the Trump era. Days seem like centuries, and weeks seem like millennia.
In that short period of time, Scaramucci has already accomplished a lot:
- He began by announcing cheerfully that he wanted a “fresh start” with the media, pledged an “era of new good feeling,” and promised to “create a positive mojo.” As he was doing this, the press was seizing on the fact that he was deleting old tweets that supported gun control, called climate science “irrefutable,” and described Trump as an “odd guy… smart with no judgment.” One tweet even committed ultimate Trump-heresy by saying of Hillary Clinton, “She is incredibly competent.” Even if the media had wanted to give the guy a break, he all but forced them to beat him like a mule minutes into his appointment.
- While speaking of fellow White House spokesperson and new department subordinate Sarah Huckabee Sanders, “Mooch” delivered a line that read like a Mad Men screen test: “Sarah, if you’re watching, I loved the hair and makeup person that we had on Friday.” By the next day he was like a man with a sackful of ants turned over on his head, so many were the news stories denouncing him as sexist.
- He got caught talking out of school in between TV segments: “In the back of my mind I have to call on CNN and send a message to [CNN President Jeff] Zucker that we are back in business.” He added that Zucker wasn’t “getting a placement fee,” but had “helped me get the job by hitting those guys,” referring to three CNN reporters who had to resign over a botched report claiming Scaramucci had inappropriate contact with Russians.
- He appeared to confirm a Washington Post report his boss Donald Trump had called “fake news.” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow had told ABC that “pardons are not being discussed and are not on the table,” but Scaramucci told Fox News Sunday that, hell yes, he’d discussed pardons with the chief: “I’m in the Oval Office with the president last week, we’re talking about that,” he said. “He brought that up, he said but he doesn’t have to be pardoned there’s nobody around him that has to be pardoned he was just making the statement about the power of pardon.”
In the space of a week, Trump’s new press expert demonstrated that he a) didn’t know how to hold off-the-record conversations b) didn’t understand that cameras and microphones keep rolling even when the red light is off and c) doesn’t bother to check the other public statements made by administration officials before he makes statements of his own. An alien crashed on earth and given a two-minute tutorial on dealing with reporters would have done a better job.