I was on the phone with my mother, reading an article to her from my laptop when a news alert darted onto my screen. Anthony Scaramucci, the just-appointed White House director of communications, had resigned. It was a rather meta moment, as the piece I was reading to my mother was Ryan Lizza’s write-up for The New Yorker of his extraordinary July 27 telephone conversation with the Mooch, which was quite a thing to share with one’s octogenarian mom, what with all the expletives and a description of a contortionist, onanistic sex act attributed to a less-than-fit fellow. But, hey, she’s a big girl, and besides, we’re from Jersey.
“It’s like he swept up the weavings from the floor,” she said of President Donald J. Trump, “and put them in offices.”
Initially, The New York Times reported, the president was pleased with Scaramucci’s performance in his big splash in The New Yorker, especially the part where the brash new comms honcho attacked then–Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Priebus resigned after the attack; his ally Sean Spicer, then the White House press secretary, resigned upon news of Scaramucci’s hiring. Trump characteristically didn’t see the Mooch’s F-bombs and sex-act depiction as a problem until some people who are possibly not psychopaths pointed out to him that Scaramucci’s performance was not well-received.
So, with the blessing of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner—the president’s daughter and son-in-law, who both work for him in the West Wing—the Mooch was canned by Priebus’s replacement, retired U.S. Marines General John Kelly, who had been serving as secretary of homeland security. According to the Times, it was the daughter-and-hubby team that really wanted Priebus out, and had urged Daddy to hire the Mooch to do the deed. Mission accomplished, ciao Mooch. Thank you for your service—all 10 days of it.
LEST YOU FIND yourself feeling sorry for Sean Spicer, his moment of fame left to languish in a costume closet at the “Saturday Night Live” studios, word broke on August 1 that, during his tenure, he entertained a pair of yahoos from Fox News to hear out their concocted story connecting the murder of a staffer at the Democratic National Committee to the dumping of Hillary Clinton’s emails on WikiLeaks. One of the yahoos, frequent Fox News guest Bill Butowski, is on the record as having told the other yahoo, Fox News analyst Rod Wheeler, that Trump was very interested in seeing the story advanced. We know this from a legal filing first reported by NPR’s David Folkenflik. When asked, a month after his meeting with the Fox pair, in a press gaggle about what has become known as the Seth Rich story (named for the murdered staffer), Spicer denied any knowledge of the story, according to The Washington Post. The Fox story asserting the Rich-WikiLeaks link was retracted by Fox shortly after it ran.
Yet the story, which has been internet gold for right-wing outlets, was heartlessly peddled by Fox News host Sean Hannity, who is said to be an informal adviser to the president. In fact, among Scaramucci’s complaints to The New Yorker’s Lizza was the reporter’s July 26 tweet about Hannity’s invitation to the White House for dinner with the president, Scaramucci, and former Fox News executive Bill Shine, who is now said to be in the running as Scaramucci’s replacement. Scaramucci assumed Priebus was the anonymous source for the tweet.
Shine lost his job at Fox in the sexual harassment scandal that brought down the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes. Shine was said to have covered for and abetted Ailes’s predatory behavior toward Fox’s women employees, which would make him a rather perfect fit as this president’s message-fixer. So much covering up to do! (Take, for instance, this Washington Post report on the president’s involvement in writing a misleading statement for his son’s signature regarding that Trump Tower meeting with the Russian lawyer—a meeting of which the elder Trump claimed to the American people he had no knowledge.)
Salvador Hernandez of BuzzFeed News reports that, in an upcoming issue of Sports Illustrated, in a story about the president’s frequent trips to his golfing properties, Trump explained himself to friends by saying, “That White House is a real dump.”
Perhaps, Mr. President. But the problem isn’t the building; it’s the people in it. And no general can fix that.
Note to self: My mother is always right.