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New York financier Anthony Scaramucci, who had a tumultuous but extremely entertaining 11 days as White House communications director, re-emerged from a self-imposed break from the spotlight to do two high-profile television interviews over the last few days.
He sat with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Sunday morning, and with CBS’ Stephen Colbert on Monday. Neither interview made major news, and both were clearly overshadowed by the chaos last weekend in Charlottesville, Va.
Perhaps the most revealing moment in Scaramucci’s Media Comeback Tour came in the last minute of a Facebook Live interview conducted by ABC News political director Rick Klein.
Scaramucci lit up when he was asked if he’d appear on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. “Get Lorne Michaels to call me,” he responded. “I don’t know. I’ll bring my sunglasses for that.” He also jovially parried a question about appearing on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars — he’s not a great dancer, he said, but added, “We’ll see, who knows.” (An SNL spokesperson did not respond to a question about a possible Mooch appearance.)
Scaramucci was also asked about writing a book, and his answer suggested that he had clearly been thinking about doing just that. “Could I write a book? I could possibly write a book,” he said. “It will be an uplifting book. It will be a positive book that helps people. It’s not going to be a tell-all tale or something like that.”
While the questions posed by Stephanopoulos, Klein and Colbert were all reasonable and fair, perhaps a better question is: Why did Scaramucci sit for these interviews in the first place? What’s the point, and what was he hoping to accomplish?
The Mooch did not respond to an email from The Hollywood Reporter, but Brad Gerstman, a “friendly acquaintance” of his who has also worked with President Donald Trump and his campaign in his capacity as a lobbyist and public relations executive, posed a theory about Scaramucci that seems plausible.
Gerstman suggested that Scaramucci, like Trump before him, is building his brand, and that’s what the TV appearances were about. Even with his short stint in the public eye, Scaramucci became almost a household name (at least in households that are consumed by our national political drama).
When he came out for his interview on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Scaramucci was greeted with chants of “Mooooch, Moooch.” Colbert helped him with his branding exercise by requesting at one point in the interview that he “say it like The Mooch! Say it like The Mooch!” Later, the host said, “Gimme some Mooch, gimme some Mooch here.” (Colbert did, though, put him in his place when Scaramucci tried to wave him off to do a bit about how their conversation is “off the record,” a reference to his infamous conversation with a New Yorker journalist.)
“He moves like Donald Trump, he speaks like Donald Trump, he believes in media like Donald Trump,” Gerstman said. “This guy is building his brand. Will he be the next Apprentice guy? Will he be his own TV show like The Apprentice? Will he be a talk show host?”
Gerstman posits that Scaramucci is looking for something bigger and glitzier than being a contributor to a network like Fox News or CNN, which, coincidentally, might be looking to add a few Trump surrogates right now. Scaramucci is reportedly working on a sitcom already, and has financed movies in the past.
While the ABC and Late Show interviews were short on news, Scaramucci’s criticisms of Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon and suggestion that the president “move more into the mainstream” did get some pickup, including a scathing Breitbart News story that argued that Scaramucci “finished off whatever is left of his credibility, blowing it all in a baseless attack on Breitbart News and White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon.”
But, besides those comments and a mention of a recent, “candid” conversation with the president, Scaramucci did not seem to be positioning himself as a key outside advisor to the White House. Politics, Gerstman said, is “not his thing anymore. His thing is branding The Mooch.”
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