Don’t tell former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci that he only served in the federal government for 10 days. He’ll correct you.
“I just want people on the internet to please stop saying I was only there for 10 days. The actual record is 11 days. Don’t chip me out of 9.1% of my federal career, OK?” Scaramucci told IJR in the basement of his lavish New York City restaurant, the Hunt & Fish Club.
Everything there seemed comically larger than life: the floor-to-ceiling mirrored walls, the ornate glassware on the table, and even “The Mooch” himself. It's fitting for a man whose flair for the ostentatious may be one of the only things that guided him through one of the briefest employment stints in White House history. By many accounts, his 11 days at the helm of the communications team was a washout.
Scaramucci was famously ousted after a particularly damaging New Yorker article revealed comments the 53-year-old — believing to be “off the record” — made to reporter Ryan Lizza. During a phone call, Scaramucci used graphic language to lambast a number of members of the administration, including former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and now former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon; Scaramucci insisted to IJR that this was simply “locker room language.”
Soon after the article went live, the New York-based entrepreneur was sent back to civilian life, and he's not embarrassed in the slightest. Instead, Scaramucci believes that this was one of his many “successful failures,” a teachable moment in his ever-morphing career.
“There was a change at the chief of staff level. I had no problem with General Kelly saying, ‘Hey, Hasta La Vista.’ It was his show, and if he didn’t want me there,” Scaramucci said, “I get that kind of change, and I get trying to seek control of a situation. There’s no whining from me; there’s no hard feelings.”
But that doesn't mean it was smooth emotional sailing from there. Scaramucci said that he often explained this kind of failure to his clients when he was a money manager, equating the depression from major money loss to the feelings after losing a job. The difference is the former SkyBridge Capital executive's clients didn't have hundreds of thousands of eyeballs watching their every move.
“Frankly, failure is 10 times more traumatizing than success,” he said. “I probably should have taken it personally. It probably was personal.”
To Scaramucci, Lizza's New Yorker piece also felt personal. This time it was coming from a family friend. According to Scaramucci, Ryan Lizza's father was personal friends with him for “over 50 years.” In a particularly stressful moment, the money man attempted to lean on Lizza, believing the phone call to have “the spirit” of confidentially. Unfortunately for Scaramucci, an assumption of “off the record” isn't enough.
“I trusted him and that was a mistake by me. He basically horse traded, and that was his decision,” Scaramucci said. “He traded his relationship with me for that story.”
Lizza has long maintained that ground rules were never established for the conversation, and any high-ranking official should know that makes the conversation fair game. Still, to Scaramucci, it stings.
“Would I have liked General Kelly to have said to me here’s a bar of soap go wash your mouth out in the West Wing bathroom and get back to work? Yeah, I would have wanted that,” he joked.
The former Goldman Sachs employee believes that he would have been fired anyway, New Yorker story or not. He felt that his mission of relentlessly defending the president would have effectively rendered him an easier target.
“Unfortunately, even after my first press conference, I said 'OK, it’s going to go downhill fast from here' because if I’m an advocate from him there will be incoming [attacks] not just from Democrats, there will be incoming coming from Republicans,” he said.
But prospects look good for Scaramucci, who's made something of a digital Rumpelstiltskin of himself, turning what many viewed as a massive failure into a thriving personal internet brand. From the ashes of his burned political career rises “The Scaramucci Post,” an upcoming media project to focus on a centrist perspective on politics catered to his new millennial fans.
The Scaramucci Post aims to be a departure from what Scaramucci claims to be “wackadoodle left-leaning” publications like The New York Times and The Washington Post. On the other end of that spectrum, Scaramucci sees former White House colleague Steve Bannon's very own Breitbart News Network.
“I find that they are extremely manipulative,” Scaramucci said of the conservative leaning news publication.
“They get mean and nasty if for some reason you say something they don’t like. Or you have an opposing view to them, they start lighting you up and throwing rocks and tomatoes at you,” he said, calling it a tactic that can “cheapen the anchor of their argument.”
Bannon, who Scaramucci said shows “white nationalist tendencies,” returned to lead Breitbart after his own firing in August. It was then when Scaramucci noticed a change in their working relationship.
“I was shocked at some of the things he was doing to me, because I just assumed we were good friends,” he said. “But when he returned to Breitbart and I said he has some white nationalist tendencies, because he does, they were lighting me up.”
Scaramucci is attempting to take all of this in stride. His new media project has grown at a rapid rate, garnering more than 23,000 followers since its soft launch less than a month ago. With a playful tone, copious amounts of emoji use, and a large following, the entrepreneur-turned-politician-turned-journalist will begin a crack at the new stage of his career.