The past two weeks have yielded such a phenomenal amount of hideous policy announcements, grotesque quotes, and just plain bullshit from the Rump administration that I scarcely know where to begin. Actually, there’s no doubt where I shall begin: Rump’s now-former communications director communicated in language that not only left MSNBC’s Chris Matthews upset to the point of speechless revulsion but also occasioned a high-level editorial meeting at the New York Times devoted entirely to the issue of whether or not the paper of record would print the statement precisely as a matter of public record.
Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci had cock on his mind — a not-infrequent condition, apparently (see the Towleroad and LA Blade’s amplification on this point below) — when he offered up in the most graphic terms possible the barf-worthy image of Rump advisor Steve “Gin Blossoms” Bannon sucking his own dick, a metaphor meant to capture Bannon’s talent not at auto-fellatio but rather self-promotion. He also called Reince Priebus, the soon-to-be-former chief of staff, “a fucking paranoid schizophrenic.”
Anguish ensued at the Gray Lady. Would the Times print the news or not? Ultimately, the august editors adopted an approach reporter Sydney Ember described as follows: “Times policy has remained intact: After publishing vulgar language and obscenities in an article, the paper rarely repeats them in subsequent ones.”
PERSPECTIVE: Media Circus
Faithful readers of Media Circus know that I have no problem with a shithead calling an asshole crusty, but even I was shocked by frequency with the Mooch (as the euphemism has it) “dropped the F-bomb,” which these days is less a bomb than a pebble. After a “Hardball” staffer made the mistake of printing “fucking” in a subtitle containing the full quote, Matthews apologized to his audience with an expression of disgust so vivid that he looked like he’d just caught a whiff of a particularly foul fart cut by his frequent guest, the former Republican National Committee head Michael Steele.
My favorite headline of the week appeared in the New York Daily News: “Anthony Scaramucci’s divorce lawyer swears he’s ‘always calm and rational’ despite profanity-laced tirade.” No further comment is necessary on that one.
And then, suddenly, the Mooch was the toast –– Rump abruptly fired him only 10 days after his equally sudden rise to power. Moochie, we hardly knew ye. The whole mess once again gave the lie to the persistent belief that what this country needs is a businessman at the helm. Never in my 60-year lifetime has an administration been run so ineptly; Rumpian chaos knows no bounds.
The widespread merriment caused by the Mooch’s “locker room talk” (the term used by the Rump himself to explain away the vulgar and derogatory manner in which he talked about women with Billy Bush in a tape unearthed shortly before the election) was a most welcome distraction from the infinitely more disturbing ban-by-tweet in which Rump informed not only transgender troops but most of the Pentagon — suddenly, without any warning at all — that trans folks weren’t welcome to serve in the military any more. The White House claims that it told Secretary of Defense James Mattis the day before, but since Mattis was on vacation at the time this claim is at best disingenuous. To its credit, the Pentagon has responded that it won’t accept a command by tweet — that Rump must submit a formal order, which as of this writing he has not done.
As with his most recently dead policy baby, the repeal of Obamacare, Rump’s anti-trans policy flies in the face of public opinion, a fact Rump would no doubt have discovered had he let the military in on his pro-discrimination policy announcement before he tweeted it. According to Reuters’ Chris Kahn, “When asked to weigh in on the debate, 58 percent of adults agreed with the statement, ‘Transgender people should be allowed to serve in the military.’ 27 percent said they should not while the rest answered ‘don’t know.’” Kahn continues: “Democrats mostly supported military service by transgender Americans while Republicans were more evenly split,” a fascinating detail that only makes sense if Caitlyn Jenner counts as half the Republican Party.
But back to the Rump, the Mooch, and the Priebus. As Business Insider’s Sonam Sheth writes, basing his story on reporting by the Washington Post, “As Trump began souring on Priebus, he also tasked him with a number of menial responsibilities including, at one point, killing a fly that was buzzing over his head in the Oval Office.” At least Priebus’s forced resignation provided most Americans with the opportunity to learn how to pronounce his name correctly. It’s Rye-nss Pree-Bus, not Rants Pray-Ee-Boose, as I had hoped. And President Fat Ass’s refusal to kill a fly only put me in mind of the end of “Psycho.” Whatever happened to Trump’s lookalike mother, anyway?
Now for that Towleroad.com/ Los Angeles Blade amplification. Verbatim: “Blake Mitchell, a gay porn star who made some headlines over the weekend after posting a screenshot showing he was being followed by White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, is speaking out. Scaramucci, who deleted several tweets which supported LGBTQ rights shortly after becoming Trump’s White House Communications Director, also follows more than 167,000 other people on Twitter, including myself (@andytowle) and Towleroad (@tlrd)… ‘I posted the screenshot that showed that he was following me,’ Mitchell, who identifies as bisexual, told the Los Angeles Blade. ‘He was in a Twitter ‘Moments’ slideshow, and 7I clicked on his profile inside that. When I saw he was following me, my reaction was exactly what I posted online — Wait… what?’
“Mitchell, who says he decided not to return Anthony Scaramucci’s Twitter follow, rates himself above average in terms of his interest in national politics.
“‘I vote every chance I get, and I’m not afraid to “get political,”’ Mitchell told the Los Angeles Blade. ‘But I’m at a point in my career where focusing more energy on the current political situation would detract from my abilities to climb the corporate ladder if you will.’
“In addition to a porn career, Mitchell is also a full-time university student in San Diego, where he studies business.
“He says he’s been surprised before to find other VIP fans and followers, but ‘I’d have to say, Anthony Scaramucci is the most surprising follower I have.’”
A deliberately irrelevant question: On “NCIS: NOLA,” why does Christopher LaSalle, the character played by Lucas Black, wear nothing but Henleys?
From the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” newsletter: “It’s been a busy year in Washington, but weeks like this one are especially hectic for political fact-checkers. In a period of less than 26 hours — from 6:31 p.m. on July 24 to 8:09 p.m. on July 25 — President Trump made two fired-up speeches, held a news conference, and tweeted with abandon, leaving a trail of misinformation in his wake. We found at least 29 false or misleading claims during that period.”
These lies (or idiocies, you can take your pick) included the entirely made-up claim that “Lebanon is on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, Al Qaida, and Hezbollah,” when in fact Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government; and “Very soon, we will be an energy exporter. Isn’t that nice — an energy exporter? In other words, we’ll be selling our energy instead of buying it from everybody all over the globe,” when in fact we’ve been exporting more than importing energy since the Obama administration. You can sign up for The Fact Checker weekly newsletter at wapo.st/1OGIZWF.