Anthony Scaramucci | Media Matters for America

Anthony Scaramucci

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  • Media have found their latest Trump pivot: General Kelly

    ››› ››› MADELINE PELTZ & SANAM MALIK

    Media figures promoted the idea that President Donald Trump’s administration is heading towards a reset, this time following the firing of White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci along with the swearing in of former Marine General John F. Kelly as the new White House chief of staff. Kelly’s move to chief of staff is just the latest example of the media’s obsession with the fantasy of a Trump “reset” that will never happen.

  • Sinclair’s Boris Epshteyn celebrates Anthony Scaramucci’s “new approach” and “fresh perspective” for Trump’s White House

    Scaramucci, one day earlier: “I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock”

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Update: Just days after Sinclair Broadcast Group's chief political analyst Boris Epshteyn released a commentary segment lauding Anthony Scaramucci's new approach as White House communications director, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump had removed Scaramucci from the role. 


    Former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn’s latest “must-run” commentary segment for Sinclair Broadcast Group proves that President Donald Trump’s clumsy damage control will be televised on local TV news stations nationwide -- whether viewers like it or not.

    On July 27, The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza published a profanity-laced, on-the-record interview with Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, in which the latter savaged his new White House colleagues. The following day, without mentioning the firestorm Scaramucci’s viral interview had caused, Epshteyn posted a new video commentary celebrating Scaramucci’s “fresh perspective” and pushing generic propagandistic talking points about the predicted success of the new White House communications strategy.

    Here is the entire transcript of the 86-second clip, via Sinclair-owned Washington, D.C. station WJLA:

    Changes are afoot in the White House communications department.

    It may be hard to keep track of who’s in, who’s out – and more importantly, what this means for the American people.

    Let’s break it down.

    The president wanted to bring in a fresh perspective to help manage and communicate the White House's message.

    The reins over communications are now totally in the hands of Anthony Scaramucci, the new communications director. He is going to report directly to the president. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been promoted to press secretary after having been the principal deputy.

    I know Anthony personally; he is a good friend. He is unquestionably passionate and direct -- that’s been pretty obvious. He also has a high level of respect for media, having been a part of it himself.

    The reason his appointment matters is that there is going to be a new approach to dealing with the media from the White House.

    Anthony has already made two key promises:

    First, cameras are on for the daily press briefing. Get ready to see more of those pointed exchanges between the White House and the press.

    Second, the White House comms shop will enable the president to speak directly to you, through all mediums, even more than in the past. This will allow for the president’s words to cut through any spin or interpretation and go right to the people.

    The bottom line is this: There is not always agreement between the White House and those covering them; that is impossible. What these changes do signal, however, is there will now be a better working relationship between the White House and the press. This will hopefully result in us getting more thorough, and real, information on the issues that actually matter to our daily lives – such as jobs, health care and taxes.

    If you can’t choose just one sentence from this blatant pro-Trump propaganda to label as the worst, don’t worry -- the actual worst part about any of Epshteyn’s videos is what’s happening off-camera.

    Sinclair’s openly pro-Trump corporate offices mandate that every “Bottom Line with Boris” segment run on all of its 173 television news stations in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Anchors at individual local news stations owned by Sinclair are seemingly not required to introduce the segments in any particular way before running them -- employees at at least one station have said they try to run the segments along with commercials “so they blend in with paid spots.” This means that, unlike the online transcript at WJLA’s website, the segments themselves have no built-in disclosure that Epshteyn was until recently employed by the same White House he now regularly lavishes with on-air praise.

    Epshteyn has been producing 60- to 90-second commentary segments several times a week since he joined Sinclair as its chief political analyst in April. Earlier in July, Sinclair announced it would be upping Epshteyn’s segments from airing three times per week to nine times per week.

  • The White House press corps should follow up on new communications director’s financial conflicts

    New reports raise questions about Anthony Scaramucci’s promise that his financial portfolio would be “totally cleansed”

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    According to Politico, Anthony Scaramucci “still stands to profit” from his ownership stake in a hedge fund he founded in 2005 despite his assertion that his financial portfolio would be “totally cleansed” of conflicts of interest before he assumed a full-time role as communications director at the White House.

    During a July 21 press conference in which Scaramucci announced his new role in the Trump administration, he claimed that the position would not be encumbered by conflicts of interest tied to his previous business dealings. However, according to a July 26 report from Politico, Scaramucci “still stands to profit from an ownership stake in his investment firm SkyBridge Capital.” The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) stipulates that federal employees “may be directed to divest” from certain stock or property holdings in order to resolve possible conflicts of interest, but Scaramucci was still listed as SkyBridge’s managing partner as of July 27 and, according to a financial disclosure form published by Politico, Scaramucci still expects to receive significant returns from the upcoming sale of his SkyBridge assets:

    According to a July 25 report from Bloomberg citing “people familiar with Scaramucci’s recent thinking,” the incoming communications director “was eager to take another government post” in part so he could benefit from an agreement with the IRS that allows appointees to defer some capital gains taxes when they are forced to liquidate private business relationships in order to assume federal government roles. However, several ethics experts contacted by Bloomberg believe Scaramucci should be disqualified from that tax arrangement because the terms of the sale of his company pre-dated his assumption of a federal government role by several months.

    CNBC reported last week that Scaramucci’s ongoing attempt to close the sale of SkyBridge Capital “delayed his appointment” to the Trump administration earlier this year, but he has technically been an employee of the federal government since joining the Export-Import Bank last month while the SkyBridge deal remained unfinished.

    The SkyBridge deal itself is increasingly raising questions. Bloomberg reported in January that the Chinese government linked foreign conglomerate lined up to purchase SkyBridge is paying significantly more for the firm than it seems to be worth. On July 24, Business Insider described the purchase agreement for the sale of SkyBridge as “a $180 million conflict of interest hanging over [Scaramucci’s] head” because the sale will eventually have to be approved by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, with whom Scaramucci will work closely in his new role as a senior adviser in the Trump administration. (Rumors that Scaramucci may be in line to replace Reince Priebus as the president’s chief of staff may further exacerbate the financial conflict.)

    Given the Trump team’s extraordinary penchant for misleading the press, reporters should continue digging for proof of Scaramucci’s compliance with ethics regulations routinely flouted by the Trump family and other members of the administration.

  • Anthony Scaramucci is flooding the media with nonsensical, idiotic comparisons

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LóPEZ G.

    A week into the job, incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has compared the repeal of the Affordable Care Act to the abolition of slavery, his relationship with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to that of Cain and Abel, and Jared Kushner to Alexander Hamilton. But Scaramucci had been making dumb comparisons long before getting the job.

  • Donald Trump's ideal attorney general is this random Fox News anchor

    Fox's Gregg Jarrett fits the model the president seems to be seeking

    Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III may be on his way out. The former senator who was one of the first converts to President Donald Trump’s cause has lost his favor after properly recusing himself over the Russia investigation. And the president isn’t shy about it -- he’s been publicly demeaning Sessions on Twitter for not prosecuting Hillary Clinton for her “crimes” and sending out incoming communications director Anthony Scaramucci to suggest that the president wants him gone.

    The possible removal of the nation’s top law enforcement officer because he has not prosecuted the president’s former political rival is deeply troubling and points to Trump’s authoritarian tendencies. But it also shows that the president is trapped in a right-wing media feedback loop.

    As has been the case with many of the president’s Twitter rages, his most recent attack on the attorney general seems to have come in response to a Fox News segment, in this case one defending the president over the Russia investigation. The president constantly consumes the network’s propagandistic defenses of his conduct. That seems to inexorably push him to behave as if the alternate reality Fox is depicting is the real one. And then Fox has to scramble to find a way to defend the new indiscretion.

    The president has come to believe the legal arguments that Fox has been making to defend him -- that he has done nothing wrong with regard to Russia, that Clinton is the true criminal, that special counsel Robert Mueller has conflicts of interest and should be fired. With Trump’s behavior already scaring off potential Sessions successors, it would be plausible -- and consistent with his TV-based rationale for recent hires -- for him to nominate as attorney general someone he has watched make those arguments on television.

    If Trump wants an attorney general who will defend every aspect of his behavior with regard to Russia while using the power of the Department of Justice to persecute his political foes, he should look no further than Fox News’ Gregg Jarrett. While it’s unlikely that Jarrett would actually be the pick, he has been providing a model for the type of behavior Trump would want from an attorney general.

    A former attorney who spent years as an anchor for COURT TV, Jarrett has been an anchor for Fox since 2002. Usually a low-profile news anchor, Jarrett has in recent days emerged as the network’s leading legal defender of the president regarding the Russia probe. Jarrett makes regular appearances on Hannity and other programs to put forward legally dubious explanations of why the Trump team’s actions have been legally acceptable while the president’s opponents and investigators have broken the law.

    Jarrett’s defenses of the president have ticked all the boxes. He’s repeatedly said that even if the president or his team colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, they wouldn’t have broken any laws. That’s false, but as far as Trump is concerned, it’s an improvement from Sessions, who has said such collusion would be “improper and illegal.” When news broke that the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. had set up a meeting with Russians interested in influencing the election, Jarrett scoffed.

    After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, many legal experts said it appeared to be textbook obstruction of justice. Not Jarrett, who claimed that Comey “deserved to be fired” and that “it should have happened a long time ago.” After it emerged that Trump had asked Comey to shut down the probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, Jarrett found a way to defend that too.

    But Trump doesn’t just want an attorney general who will defend his actions -- he wants one who will attack his enemies. Here, too, Jarrett’s spin has been exceptional. Hillary Clinton? Jarrett wants a special prosecutor to review the emails case. James Comey? Jarrett wrote that his interactions with the president showed that Comey had obstructed justice. Robert Mueller? Jarrett wrote that Mueller’s relationship with Comey is a disqualifying conflict of interest and called for his removal. Jarrett has even said that Mueller and Comey “may be acting in collusion to get the president” and called for the president to get an injunction to stop the special counsel investigation if it starts to pursue his finances.

    There are, of course, some downsides to a Jarrett pick. He has never served as a prosecutor or in public service, nor has he ever led a large bureaucracy, of course, but since when has Trump cared about typical qualifications? The bigger problem is that Sessions’ bigotry and his anti-immigrant stance have made him a beloved figure among a big chunk of Trump’s base. His efforts to punish immigrants have led to some of the administration’s few policy accomplishments. Jarrett claiming that he frequently experiences microaggressions as a white man doesn’t really rate, though his attacks on sanctuary cities are promising. And pushing through a nominee who is on the record making these claims might be too much for even Senate Republicans to stomach.

    While Jarrett probably won’t be Trump’s pick if he dynamites convention and fires Sessions, it is clear that the president expects this sort of behavior from an attorney general. Just as the obsequious support of Sean Hannity and the hosts of Fox & Friends represent Trump’s model for how journalists should behave, people like Jarrett are what he expects from a government lawyer. When all you know about the government comes from watching Fox News, Fox News becomes your model for how the government should work.

  • New Trump hire Anthony Scaramucci to Sean Hannity: "We were separated at birth" because I agree with you "1,000 percent"

    Scaramucci and Hannity repeatedly agree on the White House communications strategy

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a July 24 appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show, Anthony Scaramucci, the newly-minted White House communications director, promised he would go after leakers, “find other ways” beyond traditional media outlets to “deliver information,” and confirmed that he would combat the media’s “double-standard.” This strategy mirrors the rantings from Sean Hannity on his radio program and Fox News show.

    Hunting and purging leakers in the government

    Scaramucci promises to fire "leakers" on his staff.

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Let's talk a little bit about the statement that you made here. "Any leakers are going to be shown the door," does that also include deep state leakers? Because there was one report --

    ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: So, let me -- let me rephrase that for your listeners, it's the leakers that I have control over, okay? So, I sit in the comms shop now, I report directly to the president, had a very crisp meeting with him this morning about some of the things I'd like to do, got his green light. I met with about 40 or so people in the Roosevelt Room, here in the West Wing shortly thereafter, and sort of laid out what i want to do culturally here to make people understand where I'm coming from. And so, very very binary, like I said to Jake Tapper, "You are going to leak, you are going to go outside on Pennsylvania Avenue, and you're going to sell postcards to the tourists." It's just that simple.

    HANNITY: Well, I --

    SCARAMUCCI: If you're not going to leak, you can stay here and work. You gotta make a decision.

    HANNITY: I think one of the harder things to find is gonna be the 125 leaks from within the intelligence community --

    SCARAMUCCI: Yeah.

    HANNITY: -- against the President. I mean, we had one late last week again, and this one was against Jeff Sessions, and it seems like it just never ends.

    SCARAMUCCI: Yeah, so that's a -- totally separate topic, and so unfortunately it is outside of my authority. But what I will say there is that we are going to start a process of bolstering the exposure of those as well. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/24/17]

    Hannity: Trump should fire everyone in the executive branch who Isn't loyal to him “because he’s got to end the leaks that are plaguing this administration.

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Let's go back to 1861, President Abraham Lincoln he created a team of rivals, a so-called team of rivals, a cabinet of rivals including adversaries that he ran against the Republican primary. While President Lincoln sought to unify his party through cabinet selections, he also executed an extensive government purge. He fired over 75 percent, nearly 1200 people. Out of 1500 bureaucrats that worked in the executive branch that President Lincoln feared could be disloyal. It's time now for President Trump to follow Abraham Lincoln's example and fire anyone and everyone who was actively working against him in government.

    [...]

    Because he’s got to end the leaks that are plaguing this administration.[Fox News, Hannity, 3/9/17]

    Circumventing traditional press to get better news coverage

    Scaramucci: “If I can’t get the help from the mainstream media,” “we’ll find other ways” to “deliver information to the American people.”

    ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: We’re going to try to keep this as transparent as we can, and as open. I don’t think we’re going to be able to fight through a lot of the mainstream media nonsense, I think they’re just going to go off the hook into the direction they’re going in, but we’ve got very sharp people here on the comms team. We’re going to reinvent the way we deliver information to the American people, and if I can’t get the help from the mainstream media, of giving the president a fair shake, we’ll find other ways to do that. On -- certainly, the president does that with his social media situation.

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): I honestly have seen a shift and a change just before you came onboard, and then we saw a lot of it this weekend, I mean -- I think the exchange we just played with you and Jake Tapper is a really good one, “Well Jake, I know you’re trying to come up with analogies on the fly, but good try, it doesn’t work here,” or Kellyanne was on CNN, and Doctor Gorka’s two appearances, Anderson Cooper and Alisyn Camerota went viral. I do think that they have gotten away with way too much, and I think there has been far too little pushback, in my humble opinion. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/24/17]
     

    Hannity led the charge to get Trump to abandon traditional media. Sean Hannity has devoted himself to promoting the notion that Trump should not have a press office in his White House and should use other methods of reaching out to the American people outside of the mainstream media. [Media Matters, 12/14/16]

    Scaramucci echoed Hannity’s claim that Trump’s communication strategy should combat the media’s “double standard”

    “You and I were separated at birth”: Scaramucci tells Hannity he agrees completely with his comments on combating the media’s double standard.

    SEAN HANNITY (HOST): How do you combat all of -- all of this double standard at one time? Are you going to -- are you going to take these issues to the media?

    ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: Yeah, so you know you and I were separated at birth, you just happen to be Irish, right? You know that about yourself, right? So, everything you just said, you know, I 1000 percent agree with.

    But what I said from the podium on Friday was that, you know, the Navy SEALs have a great line, that the only way that you can eat an entire elephant is to take one bite at a time. So, the first thing that I’ve got to do, Sean, is I’ve got to clean up the culture here in the comms shop, and I have to stop the internecine civil warfare among the personalities and the egomaniacs.

    Once they stop shooting at each other, we can subordinate all of that to the president’s message. Once we get that under control, we can start dealing with the stuff that you’re referencing -- but I 1000 percent agree with you that we’ve got to start going in that direction. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 7/24/17]