Anthony Scaramucci has jumped headfirst into life at the White House, and he's taken a page out of his boss' handbook. Emoting style over substance, his communications plan thus far has been to draw attention to himself — or at least that's what happened this week following the release of an interview with The New Yorker. The article is a profanity-laced diatribe against Reince Priebus and White House "leakers." But there is one line from Scaramucci's New Yorker interview beyond the curse words that you must consider.
It's one of very few phrases without a swear word (the f-bomb in particular makes several appearances but "s--t," "c--k," and others fill it out). Regardless of the language, though, what he's saying is scary. Scaramucci told reporter Ryan Lizza, "He didn’t get the hint that I was reporting directly to the President."
Scaramucci was explaining that Priebus, Trump's chief of staff, should have understood that he didn't have to report to him but rather directly to Trump. That tidbit was also included in the press release announcing his position, and the two are now clearly at odds.
That's scary for two reasons. One is particularly obvious: Scaramucci can't be muzzled by anyone except the president — and Trump's tolerance for the offensive is huge, as he would say. So, get prepared for more distractions of this kind. Instead of focusing solely on the Russia investigation or the efforts to repeal Obamacare, news organizations will have to dedicate time and resources to the insanity that is Scaramucci.
The other reason to be disturbed by this is that it demonstrates Priebus' shrinking sphere of influence within the administration. He might be far from perfect, but Priebus does seem to be a source of reason and stability, or at least that was the hope. With Scaramucci's appointment, Sean Spicer resigned as press secretary. He also might have been far from perfect, but he at least had the decency to hide in the bushes when things were out of control.
From here, Scaramucci will be going to bat for his boss and likely speaking with no script right after the next big announcement — and probably with no worries about what is factually correct or not. Maybe something along the lines of:
Which is exactly what he said to The New Yorker.
Just replace "leakers" with whomever the president is displeased with at the moment. With a surrogate like this one working at the White House, Trump no longer has to make the threats. He can pawn it off on the Mooch and maintain plausible deniability after the fact. How will that help the national conversation?
If you want to read the whole interview with the full-blown profanity, just be aware that some of the other things that he tells Lizza are just as troubling. Because, as the new White House communications director would put it, "the Mooch showed up a week ago," and already he's the next distractor in chief.