Political News

New Yorker writer discusses 'insane' Scaramucci interview

Posted August 3

The journalist on the receiving end of former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci's expletive-laden rant is calling the conversation the "most unusual" he's ever had with a senior government official.

The New Yorker released audio excerpts of the now-famous conversation between Scaramucci and the magazine's Washington correspondent, Ryan Lizza, who spoke to CNN's Brooke Baldwin on "Newsroom" about his stunned reaction after receiving the call.

"He threatened to fire the entire communications staff if I wouldn't reveal sources, which I thought was a very strange threat to offer a journalist," Lizza said. "It's not like that would be an incentive for me to change my mind about that."

"The New Yorker" released the excerpts as part of a podcast where "New Yorker" Editor-in-Chief David Remnick interviewed Lizza about the call and Scaramucci's relationship with President Donald Trump.

"It was so unusual," Lizza says on the podcast of the call, in which Scaramucci called former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus a "paranoid schizophrenic."

"This was 10:30 at night, and I just stood there shaking my head saying that is the most unusual conversation I have ever had with a senior government official," Lizza told Remnick on the podcast.

After the phone call, Lizza says he downloaded the audio from his recorder and saved the file on his computer as "insane Scaramucci interview." He realized then that the entire conversation had been on the record because the two had never discussed any other arrangement.

"When you have the White House communications director, a conversation like that, you set some ground rules, but there were no ground rules set," he tells Remnick in the podcast, adding that he made this clear to Scaramucci the following day when giving him notice that the story would be published.

In the podcast released Thursday, Lizza also explains reasons why Trump hired Scaramucci in the first place -- specifically highlighting Scaramucci's strategy to "let Trump be Trump" and framing the Trump's administration's problems as merely a communication strategy issue.

"By dropping Scaramucci in, Trump created a whole new faction with its own new leader. ... It shows that Trump still has this ad hoc management strategy where he makes decisions without necessarily thinking through all the consequences," Lizza says.

Lizza echoed those sentiments to Baldwin, adding that many communications professionals and journalists were pleasantly surprised by the ideas in Scaramucci's leaked communications memo.

"He was trying to open the White House up a little bit more, get the cameras back on in the briefing room, he was really emphasizing having a better relationship with the press, so those were all positive things," Lizza said.

Scaramucci seemed to believed that all the White House's problems were communications-related.

"He believed that the real problem in the White House was that the public just didn't see the side of Trump that he saw. He has this very worshipful view of Trump and just believes that all the problems could be solved if the world saw Trump the way he saw," Lizza said.

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