If you have been on vacation, you may have been buried in a good summer novel and missed the real-life story of Anthony Scaramucci, whose tenure as White House director of communications lasted just 10 days. Though this is no novel, it is riveting nonetheless:
Initially targeted in January to fill an assistant-to-the-president position, the financier was advised by then-White House Chief of Staff, Reince Preibus, to withdraw his name from consideration; he did so.
In June, Scaramucci took the position as chief strategy officer of the Export-Import Bank. On June 26, after incorrectly reporting about Scaramucci's activities, three CNN reporters resigned. Scaramucci took the high road, responding via Twitter, "CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on."
On Friday, July 21, over objections from Preibus and Sean Spicer, President Trump named Scaramucci WHDOC. Spicer resigned; Sarah Huckabee Sanders was promoted from deputy press secretary to press secretary.
That day, a charming, glib and suave Scaramucci debuted before members of the news media, stating he was going to report directly to the president. He finished his love fest with the reporters by blowing them a kiss.
But the road quickly grew rocky. The following Monday, Scaramucci announced via Twitter that news organizations would be allowed once again to broadcast the news conferences, and that he was honored to be traveling with the president on Air Force One. The Daily Show mocked him for using hand gestures similar to Trump's.
On Wednesday, Politico published financial disclosures and said he "still stands to profit from SkyBridge from the White House."
Furious, Scaramucci tweeted the following: "In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony I will be contacting @FBI and the @TheJusticeDept #swamp @Reince45."
But there was no leak, the disclosures had been made available to the public. Scaramucci subsequently deleted the tweet.
Thursday night, after reading a tweet by New Yorker Washington Correspondent Ryan Lizza regarding a White House dinner, Scaramucci called Lizza and tried, without success, to find out the source.
This led to Lizza's column, "Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Unload About White House Leakers, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon." It was subtitled, "He started by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff. It escalated from there."
Friday, President Trump tweeted that he had named DHS Secretary and retired Marine John Kelly to serve as WHCOS.
The following Monday, it was all over for Scaramucci. The New York Times article "John Kelly, Asserting Authority, Fires Anthony Scaramucci," written by Michael Shear, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman, noted that "John F. Kelly, President Trump's new chief of staff, firmly asserted his authority on his first day in the White House on Monday, telling aides he will impose military discipline on a free-for-all West Wing, and he underscored his intent by firing Anthony Scaramucci."
His fall from grace came as no surprise to many. He was playing in an arena where he had no background, experience or understanding. Whoever replaces him might want to note a few recommendations from someone who has interacted with members of the news media since she was a girl:
The job of the WHDOC is to oversee and coordinate all aspects of the administration's communications. This includes, but is not limited to, speeches,
news conferences, radio, social media and coordination with other agencies within the administration.
This is not a job for anyone who wants to be IN the limelight.
Instead, it is for someone whose sole goal is to seek to ensure that the president's vision is communicated in a way that reflects the president's style and personality. There is no place for either the voice or the message of the WHDOC.
Note too that all public officials are always on the record when speaking with the news media unless the reporter has agreed -- prior to any other discussion -- to consider his or her comments to be off the record or on background.
And the public official would be wise to limit those interactions to reporters who have proven themselves worthy of trust.
The safest rule of thumb is to assume that everything you email, text, Snapchat, etc., could wind up on the front page of a newspaper or in the lead story of a broadcast or in a tweet.
Never, ever, ever lie. This is the most important rule. Reporters have the right to ask questions. You decide how to answer them, but never lie.
However, you must do more than answer questions. You have the right, indeed the responsibility, to deliver the message that the president wants to communicate. Your job is not to berate anyone, but to lead by example by communicating in a positive and effective way for the president's vision -- in his voice.