The New Yorker‘s Washington Correspondent Ryan Lizza got quite the scoop when he fielded the Anthony Scaramucci phone call heard round the world. Not only did we get the Mooch’s infamous rant, but it revealed a lot about what’s going on within the White House. It also brought about some swift changes, with the dismissal of Reince Priebus and Scaramucci’s abbreviated tenure as communications director. Lizza sat down with David Remnick on The New Yorker Radio Hour to play parts of the call for the first time and glean a few conclusions about why his tenure was so brief.
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First off, there is the dysfunction laid bare by the simple fact of Scaramucci’s appointment and the phone call itself. “It was so unusual,” said Lizza. “In twenty years of doing this I’ve never had a phone conversation like that. I got off the phone and just kind of stood there, silently. I was in my bedroom…this was 10:30 at night. I just stood there shaking my head and I said this is the most unusual conversation I have ever had with a senior government official.”
Not only did Scaramucci represent the whole White House, he also styled himself as a mouthpiece for the president, and clearly felt that “speaking in his master’s voice,” as Remnick put it, was his ticket to righting the course of the White House’s communication strategy. Unfortunately, that backfired.
Some of it also falls on Trump’s management style. “He’s a bad manager,” remarked Lizza. “The first thing everyone knows is you have a strong chief of staff and everyone reports to the president through the chief of staff. Trump never adopted that system. He set up competing power centers.” Adding Scaramucci into the mix only threw the already topsy-turvy power centers of Ivanka and Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, and Reince Priebus further off balance.
Ultimately, the picture Lizza and Remnick paint of the Trump presidency is one of a shortsighted leader who is “graded on a curve” and needs to be minded by a bevy of General-nannies while his staff bicker and argue. That’s even more unflattering, not to mention worrisome, than what Scaramucci suggested Steve Bannon was trying to do to himself.
(Via The New Yorker)