Anthony Scaramucci Has the Utmost Faith in Himself
All photos by Chris Maggio
It's been almost two months since an infamous interview with the New Yorker's Ryan Lizza helped bring Anthony Scaramucci's run as President Donald Trump's communications director to an abrupt end. While most people might hide from the public eye after an unceremonious firing, the "Mooch" is on some different shit. The 53-year-old is already launching the Scaramucci Post, a new media company that seeks to make a business model out of his star power and social media presence.
Always intrigued by a train wreck, I wanted to attend the nascent media company's launch event. It was hosted on Monday, the morning after the whole nation was shook by the mass shooting in Las Vegas. The tragic violence cast a dark cloud over Scaramucci's sideshow, which took place at Midtown Manhattan's Hunt and Fish Club, a high-end restaurant Scaramucci co-owns. The bright, overhanging lights, all-white interior, and marble floors make the spot look like a hangout for Phil Leotardo and his crew.
Scaramucci had a bunch of things on the docket for his big day—from the Scaramucci Post's debut livestream to a panel discussion. I arrived at 7:30 AM, which was the time the whole thing was supposed to start, but apparently that was a little too early for the Mooch. I beat him there and had to wait outside another 20 minutes before I was allowed in.
"I didn't know anything was going on today," an employee dressed in all white with a matching overseas cap told me after I stepped into the empty restaurant. "I didn't even see Mr. Scaramucci walk in."
The employee led me down the stairs into the "Mooch Cave," as Scaramucci calls it. It's a private room with five tables—when I arrived, they were completely empty. The marble floor was checkered black and white, and the curtains had prints of Roman statues. Scaramucci was there making preparations, but he didn't quite look like himself. Instead of his signature suit and slicked-back hair, he wore a black Polo shirt, blue shorts, and a pair of running sneakers, and he had a black ice compression sling over his right shoulder that looked like half of a football shoulder pad.
When I asked him about his arm, he said he tore his rotator cuff and labrum playing basketball with his 18-year-old son and his friend. He told me he'd just had arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Friday.
"This fucking thing doesn't bother me," he quipped, pulling down his shirt collar to show me the purple scar and stitched-up area. "I'm a fucking warrior."
So what exactly is Scaramucci Post? At the event, it came off as a livestream/vlog a la far-right media entrepreneur Mike Cernovich that will operate in "a streamlined, Steve Jobs kind of way," Scaramucci said. He also told me he didn't plan to spend a lot of money and didn't care if it turned a profit.
"I have a huge opportunity ahead of me," Scaramucci said. "I don't know what it is exactly, but it'll be huge."
Standing in the middle of the basement-level private room, I wanted to figure out what the deal was with his new company, or at least the schedule for the day. But all Scaramucci would talk about was me.
Where'd you grow up? Bella—are you Italian? Where'd you go to school? What's up with [VICE founder] Shane Smith? What's that book you're reading? You're not an asshole, right?
Scaramucci then asked me if I was an Italian American journalist like Lizza, whom he later called "a dishonest jerk-off" and "a horrific human being."
"It was good for Ryan. He got 4 million views. He pushed me out of the White House, and it was a good short-term thing for him," he said as he patted me on my right shoulder and shot me a half grin, "So, don't do that to me, OK?"
Things didn't really get going until a little after 8 AM, when Scaramucci hosted his startup's inaugural livestream. To do it right, the Mooch got help from his friend of 20 years, Lance Laifer. Scaramucci and Laifer used to run together in the hedge-fund business back in the 90s.
"He gets associated with Donald Trump, and those people who don't like Donald Trump don't like Anthony Scaramucci," Laifer said to me. "But Anthony Scaramucci and Donald Trump are different people."
While the 53-year-old has done a lot of varied, peculiar things in his life, including helm an advocacy group that fights malaria, Laifer is most notable for advising actor Taye Diggs to inexplicably follow everyone on Twitter. So it makes sense that Laifer's suggestion in the days following Scaramucci's departure from the Trump administration was the catalyst for the Scaramucci Post.
"I don't like to see my friends get handled the way he was getting handled," Laifer said to me about that fateful phone call. "I said, 'Look, you have to get focused on the next situation.' I told him I thought he should create a media company."
For the first ever broadcast of the Scaramucci Post, Laifer grabbed two iPhones, lodged them in tripods, and hit the red button. But due to some technical difficulties, Periscope users complained right away that Laifer should be fired. Eventually, things stabilized, and Scaramucci really started yapping. And, after quickly touching on the Las Vegas tragedy, the Mooch's three livestreams got a little more free-form, including a back and forth with a reporter for the conservative publication IJR and a conversation with Barstool Sports that got far more bro-y than either of the first two.
On his short run in the White House: "I view it as a successful failure… I was there 11 days. You got people saying ten, and I feel like they're gypping me out of 9.1 percent of my federal career."
On Steve Bannon, who accused of Scaramucci of trying to suck his own cock: "I was shocked about what he did to me."
On insults from late-night hosts: "Seth Meyers called me a human pinkie ring, and Bill Maher said that the 'Situation' from Jersey Shore descended on the White House."
On what he says when Trump asks him to name his favorite president: "I always say it's him."
On whether he'd arm wrestle Sean Spicer with his bad shoulder: "I wouldn't arm wrestle him. I'd mud wrestle him, but he wouldn't do that."
After their first broadcast ended around 10 AM, Laifer told Scaramucci that they had close to 30,000 viewers. Scaramucci was ecstatic—and in pain. "I've got balls of steel," he said, referring to how much his shoulder hurts after gabbing for 90 minutes. Before the evening would end, three consecutive livestreams from Scaramucci Post, according to Periscope viewer numbers, would garner more than 100,000 views combined.
Around 5 PM, some friends of Scaramucci started to pull up. So he swapped out his shorts and sneakers for a black suit and baby-blue tie and held court with about two dozen journalists and friends as everyone feasted on the restaurant's elaborate spread of sliced hanger steak, burnt lemon chicken, and penne mushroom ragu.
One attendee I met before dinner was Laura Goldman, a Philadelphia-based broker turned freelance journalist and friend of Scaramucci's since around 2010. The 59-year-old identifies as a liberal Democrat, but she still helped organize the launch party and schedule Scaramucci's recent appearance on The View.
"The fact he's been able to be out and do this after all that happened, I give him all the credit," she said to me as the wait staff presented her with table settings.
In my chat with Goldman, she might have pinpointed the only thing I think Scaramucci does deserves a bit of props for: his unyielding resolve.
After one of the most jarring dismissals in the history of presidential politics, he's still willing to bet on himself against reason and sensibility—and he's even managed to get people like Goldman and Laifer who are willing to do the same. It's kind of incredible.
"If you said to me, OK, I'll grow up in this middle-class, blue-collar family, go to Tufts and Harvard law, work seven years at Goldman [Sachs], build and sell two reasonably successful businesses, work for the president of the United States for 11 days, get shot out of a canon and sit here on this couch talking to you?" he said to me in a rare quiet moment in "the Mooch Cave." "It's pretty improbable. It's pretty lucky."
And he added, "I think my personal best is yet to come."
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