Ryan Lizza reports on the bizarre phone conversation that he had with the new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci that has ricocheted around the media. Scaramucci seems to not have outgrown his frat boy days because he likes to be known by his nickname of ‘the Mooch’. What kind of adult actually revels in such an adolescent label? I bet even Henry Winkler hates to be called ‘the Fonz’. But no doubt the Mooch is a great fit with his frat boy boss ‘the Donnie’ and they are always snapping towels at each other and giving each other noogies and wedgies.
Scaramucci had called Lizza because he was incensed about something that the latter had reported. Here is what Lizza wrote:
On Wednesday night, I received a phone call from Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director. He wasn’t happy. Earlier in the night, I’d tweeted, citing a “senior White House official,” that Scaramucci was having dinner at the White House with President Trump, the First Lady, Sean Hannity, and the former Fox News executive Bill Shine. It was an interesting group, and raised some questions. Was Trump getting strategic advice from Hannity? Was he considering hiring Shine? But Scaramucci had his own question—for me.
“Who leaked that to you?” he asked.
The subsequent profanity-laden conversation that reveals internal jealousies, backstabbing, and threats among the aides close to Donald Trump is not that surprising in the Byzantine world of Washington insider intrigue. In fact, his words could have been lifted straight out of the comedy Veep, showing how reality has rapidly overtaken satire.. What is surprising is that Scaramucci did not tell Lizza that the conversation was off the record, as those who talk candidly and profanely to reporters usually do when they are about to attack others within their inner circle. So Lizza printed it all and it is really something. Here are some bits.
“They’ll all be fired by me,” [Scaramucci] said. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” The issue, he said, was that he believed Priebus had been worried about the dinner because he hadn’t been invited. “Reince is a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac,” Scaramucci said. He channelled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ” (Priebus did not respond to a request for comment.)
Scaramucci also told me that, unlike other senior officials, he had no interest in media attention. “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.” (Bannon declined to comment.)
In a later interview on CNN that Josh Marshall amusingly annotates, Scaramucci declares that he is a ‘straight shooter’. He may have just shot himself. Whether it will be fatal to his career, who knows? Trump’s ideas about who should be kept and who should be fired are beyond comprehension and hence predicting is useless. Trump does not seem to care if his spokespersons say idiotic things and indeed it seems to be almost a requirement, so being profane in public should not be a problem.
But Trump hates being upstaged and this is where Scaramucci may need to dial it down a bit. Despite his statement that he has no interest in media attention. Scaramucci clearly seems to enjoy being in the spotlight and this could be his undoing since Trump loves to hog the limelight and hates anyone getting more attention than him. Plus Trump likes to feel that he is the one in charge and making decisions and firing people and Scaramucci bragging that it is he who is going to set things right and fire people left and right is infringing on Trump’s prerogative.