When I first heard about Anthony Scaramucci’s call to Ryan Lizza, I figured Scaramucci had talked to the left-wing reporter to get the message out that he is prepared to fire the entire communications staff in order to stop leaking. I assumed he wanted Ryan Lizza to report this. However, lacking self-control and being a bad guy, he ended up spewing foul language about Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. (As for persuading Lizza to divulge the source of the leak he received, I figured Scaramucci is too smart to have had any hope this would happened.)
But Scaramucci offers a different explanation. He says: “I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. . . .”
In Trump World, that’s not some garden variety mistake. Scaramucci has effectively confessed to being a fool. How could he possibly have trusted a left-wing reporter for the New Yorker? If we take his explanation at face value, the naivety is staggering.
I don’t take it at face value. I think Scaramucci was overcome by the impulse to lash out at his associates/rivals, and couldn’t help doing so in obscene terms. He knew Lizza would report whatever he told him, but couldn’t control himself.
Thus, it seems to me that Trump has the communications director he deserves. Both men are vile. Both lack self-control. Both are prone using the media to attack their associates.
And now, both have done so in left-wing media outlets. Trump went after Jeff Sessions in an interview with New York Times reporters. Scaramucci went after Priebus and Bannon in a call with a New Yorker reporter.
Lizza was the guy who had received and reported the White House leaks that upset Scaramucci, so it was natural the two would talk. But Scaramucci didn’t need to unload on Priebus and Bannon for Lizza’s benefit, any more than Trump needed to unload on Sessions for the benefit of the New York Times.
Is there something about these organs that made them a more natural outlet than non-leftist media for the purposes of Trump and Scaramucci?
Trump and Scaramucci are New Yorkers. For New Yorkers, the Times has long been the most respectable newspaper. The New Yorker has long been the most respectable magazine.
Both have long been liberal organs, but this isn’t necessarily a problem for Trump or Scaramucci. Trump used to lean Democrat. Scaramucci was a max donor to Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and a frequent contributor to other liberal Dems..
At some level, Trump and Scaramucci may crave the respect, or at least the attention, of venerable New York institutions like the Times and the New Yorker. They are outsiders — one from Queens, the other from Long Island — who crashed Manhattan but may still feel not entirely welcome.
Spilling their guts to Maggie Haberman or Ryan Lizza won’t remedy this, of course. But the urge to do so must come from somewhere. Perhaps the source is a yearning for respectability, coupled with an underlying contempt for conservative media.
Deep down, maybe, like Groucho Marx, Trump and Scaramucci don’t want to belong to any club that would have them as a member.