Ten days that Mooched the world
documents the not-so-amazing rise and fall of Donald Trump's favorite communicator, Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci.
IT SEEMED like the perfect match when Donald Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director in July.
Consider the qualifications of the man known as "The Mooch": Arrogant, wealthy Wall Street financier who made a career out of business failure. Author of how-to books like Hopping over the Rabbit Hole: How Entrepreneurs Turn Failure into Success and Goodbye Gordon Gekko: How to Find Your Fortune Without Losing Your Soul. Avid Tweeter, prone to curse-filled fits of rage. Unflinching in his ignorance of what his job actually was.
No man was better prepared to serve Donald Trump.
But it was not to be. The Mooch was fired after just 10 days on the job--by incoming Chief of Staff and former Gen. John Kelly, who had just replaced Reince Priebus--the man Scaramucci spent his brief tenure chasing out of the White House.
TRUMP'S NEW communications director hit the ground running, doing what he does best: communi-fucking-cating.
One of the first orders of business was calling journalist Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker to go on a rant in which he, among other things, called Priebus "a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac," while accusing Lizza of getting "leaked" information from said "paranoiac."
Just to make sure everyone knew there was a new sheriff in town, Scaramucci hurled profanity at White House adviser Steve Bannon, too.
By most accounts, Priebus' days in the Trump White House were already numbered--his conventional right-wing fanaticism had always disturbed the crackpot vibe preferred by alt-right true believers like Bannon.
Scaramucci's tirade was just the very public push that sent Priebus off the White House plank he had been walking for a while. But it's some nice poetic justice--the enemy of my enemy is the guy who fired me.
As he cleared out his barely inhabited desk, Scaramucci probably thought back to the early days of his White House career, one week before.
He spent the bright dawn of his West Wing career vowing loyalty to the president--after video of a 2015 Fox Business interview resurfaced, in which Scaramucci, then a supporter of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for the Republican presidential nomination, called Trump a "political hack" and "un-American."
After he got the White House gig, the Mooch was quick to delete past tweets complimenting Hillary Clinton and assure reporters "I love the president." He then clarified: "But I love the president and I'm very, very loyal to the president. And I love the mission that the president has." Before repeating: "I love the president." And then: "But here's what I will tell you, okay? I love the president."
THE MOOCH'S first--and as it turns out, only--mission was declaring a no-tolerance policy on his and the president's personal obsession: "leakers." Threatening to "pare down" the communications staff, Scaramucci told CBS's Face the Nation, "If you're going to keep leaking, I'm going to fire everybody. It's just very binary."
The leaks that the White House communications director was up in arms about weren't exactly leaks. They were more like...what is it called again?...oh yeah, reporting.
The Mooch went ballistic when Politico reported his financial holdings in the SkyBridge Capital investment firm, accusing Priebus of leaking the information to the press and threatening an FBI investigation.
"In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and the @JusticeDept #swamp @Reince45," tweeted Scaramucci.
Politico reporter Lorraine Wollert explained that her so-called "illegal" method of obtaining the Mooch's financial information was a public document: a financial disclosure form Scaramucci submitted to the Office of Government Ethics.
In another attempt to go after the White House's leak problem, the Mooch quickly responded to a Politico article reporting that he planned to fire White House press aide Michael Short. Short resigned after the article came out.
"This is the problem with the leaking," Scaramucci told reporters in the White House driveway. "This is actually a terrible thing. Let's say I'm firing Michael Short today. The fact that you guys know about it before he does really upsets me as a human being and as a Roman Catholic." (Both!)
One problem--if Scaramucci told Politico about the firing, then doesn't that make him the leaker?
This isn't to say that there aren't leaks in the Trump administration--a boss so petulant surely inspires a lot of frustration and acts of "disloyalty" every day. But the Mooch's definition of a "leak" says a lot about what the Trump administration considers the real threat: facts.
REPORTING THE news isn't leaking. And as long as we're on the subject, leaking information the public ought to know isn't actually a disservice to democracy, but the exact opposite. In a "democracy" as undemocratic as the U.S., "leakers" are an absolute necessity.
We need more people like Chelsea Manning, who put her career and her freedom on the line to expose the U.S. military's war crimes. Or military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked "secret documents" during Vietnam War to show how the U.S. government lied to the public to justify imperial crimes.
Likewise, we need more journalists who investigate and seek out the truth.
For the press that has covered the White House for years, the Trump administration has been a big adjustment. For one thing, major policy decisions aren't always announced in press briefings, but instead tweeted at random at any hour of the day or night.
Wall Streeters like the Mooch are already accustomed to working the press to shape what is reported. In a recent article in the Washington Post, Heidi Moore, who covered Wall Street for 18 years, described the obstacles that the financial industry puts in the way of reporting the facts--employing the friendly approach at times, but also a not-so-friendly one that includes the threat of firing.
Reportedly, one of the reasons that Trump liked the Mooch for the communications director job was the way he forced three CNN reporters out of work in June.
But while Wall Street influence over the media has always been a reality, they've had to do it in the shadows. With Scaramucci on board, it looked like all the ugly dealings to get the media to say what Trump wanted was going to be acted out in the light of day.
All of this is new for the corporate media, which have become more accustomed to sitting in White House press briefings, taking notes and then parroting whatever line the administration dictates to them.
Thus, in the lead-up to the Bush administration's 2003 war on Iraq, the cheerleaders for war concocted a story about Saddam Hussein creating a program to manufacture weapons of mass destruction--and got the corporate media to broadcast their lies, partly through leaks to sympathetic and/or ambitious reporters.
The New York Times loyally ran front-page stories about the false evidence--and amped up the urgency by referencing anonymous administration officials saying, "The first sign of a 'smoking gun,' they argue, may be a mushroom cloud."
Today, there may not be the same friendly and orderly relations between the press corps and the White House, but that doesn't mean the media won't snap to attention. With a hawk and former general like John Kelly taking the reins as chief of staff, it seems altogether possible that the disgruntled media will be tamed somewhat.
It's nice when bad things happen to bad people--especially when there are so many bad people in charge. Everybody deserves some time to celebrate the Mooch's misfortune.
It's also true that there are probably more Mooches ahead of us. And underneath all of his gibbering about leaks, loyalty and "un-American" behavior, Scaramucci revealed something serious about the climate of suspicion and intimidation created by the Trump administration.