White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci was brought in purportedly to grease the wheels of the WH comms operation and to put the president’s agenda and achievements into the spotlight. Instead, a series of outbursts — including an unhinged late-night rant to a liberal reporter — means the only thing he has put into the spotlight so far is himself.
Scaramucci arrived with the reputation of someone who could be one of Trump’s best defenders against the daily onslaught by the liberal media while turning the White House press shop into a well-oiled machine. He impressed in his first briefing when he seemed calm, in control, and was able to bat away tough questions from a mostly hostile press corps.
However by Thursday night, the words “calm” and “in control” were on no-one’s list of phrases to describe “Mooch.”
His first day wasn’t without its hiccups. Mooch deleted a bunch of tweets after journalists quickly skimmed through his past tweets and statements and found a series of awkward comments, including when he called Trump a “hack politician” making “anti-American” statements
“You’re an inherited money dude from Queens County. Bring it, Donald. Bring it,” he said on Fox Business in 2015. Just two years later, he would be drooling over that same “money dude from Queens County” tweeting: “I serve @POTUS agenda & that’s all that matters.”
Yet the story of last Friday was still his smooth performance at the press briefings and also his popular decision to turn the cameras back on in the briefing room.
It wasn’t long before his mouth got him into trouble. On Sunday he was caught on a hot mic, allegedly saying that he wanted to call CNN President Jeff Zucker and tell him “we are back in business.”
But by Wednesday, things started to fall apart altogether.
Scaramucci’s first major mistake was to overreact to a piece in Politico Wednesday night that reported on his financial filings and said that he still stands to profit from an ownership stake in his investment firm SkyBridge Capital. Despite the story mentioning in the third paragraph that the record was “publicly available upon request,” it triggered a meltdown from the new comms director, who suddenly believed he was the victim of a leak.
The story, which would have likely never made it beyond the beltway and would have been a footnote within 24 hours, quickly became national news as part of an even bigger story when Scaramucci tweeted: “In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony. I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45.”
The inclusion of Priebus’ handle was seen to be Mooch pointing the finger at Priebus for the “leak.” Mooch was forced into a humiliating climbdown after it became clear that there was no leak to blame anyone for — and he deleted the tweet hours later.
But Scaramucci wasn’t done. On Thursday morning he called into CNN’s “New Day” in which he engaged in a rambling interview replete with macho, tough guy filibustering as well as a few wild swings at Priebus.
When the journalists who actually know who the leakers are … these guys know who the leakers are. I respect them for not telling me because I understand and respect journalistic integrity. However, when I put out a tweet and I put Reince’s name in a tweet, they’re all making the assumption that it’s him because journalists know who the leakers are. So if reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that. Let me tell you something about myself. I am a straight shooter and I’ll go right to the heart of the matter.
Scaramucci dominated the day’s news cycle, turning his boss and his agenda into a sideshow to the Scaramucci Show. What did Trump do late Wednesday and Thursday? The public could be forgiven for remaining uninformed as the media was understandably drawn to Mooch’s Machiavellian maneuverings.
Additionally, a Trump rally in Ohio Tuesday night that saw Trump reconnected to his base and delivering a strong “America First” message that could have given him a bump for days, was quickly drowned out of all coverage.
But again, Scaramucci wasn’t done.
On Thursday night, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza dropped the news that Mooch had called him late Wednesday and unleashed a verbal tirade at his colleagues of the kind that would be a sacking offence for most American workers.
In his unhinged rant, he first clumsily tried to tease out who leaked to Lizza details of a dinner Trump and Mooch were having with Fox’s Sean Hannity and former exec Bill Shine (“I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.”)
When Lizza refused, Mooch maniacally threatened: “I’m going to fire every one of them, and then you haven’t protected anybody, so the entire place will be fired over the next two weeks.”
He then unloaded on Priebus, calling him a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac” and then on Bannon (“I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock”) before saying he wants to “fucking kill all the leakers …” and then leaving a stunned Lizza because he had to “start tweeting some shit to make this guy crazy.” Minutes later he tweeted out his hit on Priebus.
Lizza dropped his story late Thursday, sending Scaramucci, Priebus and Bannon soaring into both the trending topics on Twitter and onto the front pages of every news website and newspaper in the country.
Scaramucci’s rant has fueled enough speculation and gossip about West Wing politics to last the media for weeks — and that’s assuming he doesn’t decide to phone up another reporter or pull another stunt in future days.
Scaramucci has already become arguably the worst White House communications director in modern American history — and he’s only been in the job a week.
Trump has long admired Scaramucci’s performance on cable news, but as his own agenda and achievements get drowned out by his scatterbrained comms man, Trump may be wondering if being a tough guy on cable news is a strong enough qualification to lead the White House communications office.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY