The Mooch quickly became popular among some of Trump’s biggest supporters. Some in the base are disappointed he didn’t get more of a chance in the White House.
Photo: Carlos Barria / Reuters
Anthony Scaramucci is anything but politically correct. And in the days since he announced himself as the incoming White House communications director, he found over-the-top ways to bash the press, White House staff who talked to the press, and the GOP establishment — the kind of high-energy assault President Trump’s base craves.
The routine was too much, however, for Trump's newly installed chief of staff John Kelly, who on Monday dismissed Scaramucci just over a week after his appointment to the new job was announced, even with the White House still recovering from Friday’s departure of Kelly's predecessor, Reince Priebus. The rapid move has torn people in the president’s far-right base who had embraced Scaramucci and cheered on Priebus’s dismissal.
Those who saw Scaramucci, who is referred to by himself and others as "The Mooch," as the aide who had the president's back and wasn't afraid to speak his mind — even if it meant publicly ridiculing others to make his point — are upset that he wasn’t given a real shot in the White House. Others understand why he had to go, but believe the White House could still use a straight-talking Trump “mini-me” as communications director.
"This is a sign Trump is going to return to a more conventional media strategy," Mike Cernovich, a pro-Trump media personality who has reported on the administration, told BuzzFeed News. "It's a bad sign. I won't even try to spin this news — losing Mooch is bad for the movement."
A source close to the administration said most Trump loyalists were fond of The Mooch and aren’t thrilled about his early exit, but the source also acknowledged that he "wanted the focus to be on ending Obamacare, major tax reform, and infrastructure. If this helps those, then I'm for it."
Scaramucci, a major GOP donor in the last two presidential elections, dominated headlines since getting the communications director post — at first by taking his feud with Priebus public and later with tabloid reports about his impending divorce and absence at the birth of his newborn child.
The exclamation point of Scaramucci’s brief reign came in a New Yorker story published last Thursday, which featured an angry tirade from Scaramucci, who called Priebus "a fucking paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac," and said that he — unlike Trump's top adviser Steve Bannon — was not seeking publicity for himself.
“I’m not Steve Bannon — I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he told the New Yorker. “I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the president. I’m here to serve the country.”
A source close to the Bannon-wing of the administration who had cheered on Scaramucci’s hiring said that those comments made it tough to support The Mooch, even if they thought he could ultimately do the job well. “He told Steve to go suck his own cock, so,” the source said.
Some initial backers on the far right quickly soured on Scaramucci, as was apparent on the website Breitbart. The site, which Bannon previously ran as a top executive, welcomed Scaramucci's hiring, but turned against him by the end of his first week.
"In the first week of 'The Anthony Scaramucci Show,' the new White House communications director displayed numerous ways that he could give Trump and his family multiple headaches if he continues his one-man reality show," read a Breitbart story over the weekend, published after the New Yorker story, that listed Scaramucci's "blunders."
Although Breitbart’s tone shifted, several major pro-Trump media personalities mourned Scaramucci's firing Monday as a missed opportunity for the administration.
For Cernovich and others in the pro-Trump media, Scaramucci's first few days signaled the arrival of a like-minded communicator inside the West Wing, even though Scaramucci had previously publicly supported positions anathema to much of the far right movement. His rise to the top communications job suggested that, perhaps, the White House was poised to adopt some of the tactics of Twitter personalities like Cernovich, meaning more content — Periscopes and tweets — aimed straight at the base.
In an interview on Saturday at Politicon, Cernovich predicted that Scaramucci would bring the White House's messaging "direct to the people" and praised the new communications director for Periscoping moments during his first week, like Trump walking onto Air Force One (Scaramucci himself abruptly canceled his scheduled Politicon appearance). Cernovich hoped Scaramucci would usher in a White House where "Anything that doesn't jeopardize national security should just be GoPro — Have a guy with a GoPro walking around and streaming everything."
But Scaramucci never got the chance. Jack Posobiec, a member of the New Right and a pro-Trump activist, wasn't surprised by the firing, but lamented the personnel shake-up.
"Team Trump needs a brash, unscripted, dynamic figure leading the comms shop. If not Mooch, someone who fits the bill,” he said. “No talking points or canned speeches. Someone who can reach out and connect with the audience on a human level like Trump does and [outgoing press secretary Sean] Spicer never could."
Despite only one week on the job, Scaramucci seemingly won over the Trump internet last week with his on-record Priebus-bashing in the New Yorker. After the story published, a prominent 4chan personality flagged a tweet by user Adorable Deplorable with the note, "In one sentence...This is The MAGA Base." The tweet read: "I had my doubts about @Scaramucci, but NewYorker article is the best credential and vetting I could have ever asked for. I Love Mooch now."
Alt-right personality Baked Alaska responded with a crying face emoji to the news over direct message. On Twitter, he called it a "huge mistake" and said that "his pure lack of political correctness will be missed." (Baked Alaska is a former employee of BuzzFeed.)
Many conservative media sites were beginning to jump behind Scaramucci on Monday — roughy an hour before his removal was announced, The Federalist published an article with the headline "Why Anthony Scaramucci Is The Man Trump And America Need." Similarly, Sinclair Broadcast Group's chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn put out a new video op-ed expounding on Scaramucci's "fresh perspective" in the communications shop. And some in the MAGAland media — who're usually able to deftly spin the chaos inside the Trump White House — seem unmoored by the news.
"Mooch is BELOVED by MAGA," one pro-Trump media personality told BuzzFeed News. The person stressed the fear that the change will mean a more conventional White House social media strategy, "which has been an utter failure on all levels."
Perhaps most of all for the pro-Trump media, the shake-up is another sign that the White House isn't just impossible to read, but also might not always align with the media apparatus designed to parrot its message.
"The grassroots Trump supporters want to know they have a voice in the White House too, not just spoken to from behind the gates," Posobiec said of the news. "In those 10 days, Trump supporters really got on board with Mooch. Big shoes to fill."