Critic's Notebook: The Mooch Admits He Made an "Unforced Error" in First TV Interview
Anthony Scaramucci gave his first televised appearance since being fired after only 11 days as White House communications director on ABC's 'This Week.'
Sunday’s edition of This Week With George Stephanopoulos did not make for lighthearted viewing. From Charlottesville, Virginia’s deadly white nationalist protest march to the growing possibility of a nuclear war — excuse me, “fire and fury” — with North Korea, it was understandable if viewers were downing anti-anxiety medications with their morning coffee.
Fortunately, the show provided some comic relief in the form of Anthony Scaramucci. The former White House communications director gave his first televised interview since being unceremoniously fired by the administration after a mere 11 days. But “The Mooch” even screwed this up, having misleadingly promised Stephen Colbert the exclusive first interview. For a guy who was supposed to be in charge of communications, Scaramucci has an awfully hard time communicating. It’s a wonder he lasted in the job as long as he did.
After an entertaining video montage of his guest’s greatest hits during his brief time at the White House, Stephanopoulos first asked him about Trump’s pathetic statement about the events in Charlottesville in which he decried the “hatred, bigotry and violence … on many sides.” Trump delivered the egregiously unpresidential remark with less passion than he exhibited describing the chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago. Stephanopoulos described it as a “watershed moment” for Trump’s presidency, which might be true if this administration didn’t have watershed moments several times a week.
After saying “I wouldn’t have recommended that statement,” Scaramucci excused his former boss’ refusal to condemn white supremacists by feebly explaining that “he likes doing the opposite of what he thinks the media wants him to do.” (If that’s the case, let me say, Mr. President, we in the media urge you to unleash the hounds of hell upon that puny upstart Kim Jong-un at the earliest opportunity. And for God’s sake, don’t resign.)
“I think people are reluctant to tell [Trump] the truth,” Scaramucci went on, citing in particular the “Bannon/Bart nonsense” afflicting the White House. When Stephanopoulos asked if he thought Bannon was next in line to be fired, Scaramucci coyly replied, “I think the president knows what he’s going to do with Steve Bannon.” After all, there’s room for only one man in this administration who has the ability to pleasure himself.
Scaramucci refused to go into greater detail, helpfully explaining to his host, “We’re not on a taped phone call, we’re on live television.” The point was reinforced when Stephanopoulos played audio clips of the juicier comments from the infamous interview between Scaramucci and New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza. Scaramucci smiled painfully while listening to the obscenity-laced call. “Which, for the record, I thought was off the record,” he commented. Seems like he’s finally getting the hang of it.
“He didn’t need to do that to me,” Scaramucci whined about Lizza, with whom he claimed to have a “personal relationship.” That would be news to Lizza, although the two men’s definition of “personal relationship” may be very different, considering that Scaramucci communicated his congratulations to the mother of his newborn son by text message.
Saying that he was “honorably dismissed” from his job — one hates to imagine what a “dishonorable” dismissal would look like — Scaramucci admitted that he had committed an “unforced error.”
“I own it,” he said of his media relations debacle, although Scaramucci added that, instead of being fired, he “wished they had given me a bar of soap and told me to wash my mouth out in the bathroom and move on.” (Mooch, trust me, there’s not enough soap in the world.) “When you hear the tape, it’s a very normal conversation,” he assured a wide-eyed Stephanopoulos.
Asked to describe what he thought his function would have been at the White House, Scaramucci cited “Mr. Wolf” from Pulp Fiction as a role model. To refresh your memory, that character, played by Harvey Keitel, specialized in efficiently cleaning up gruesome crime scenes. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the Trump administration.