BAR HARBOR — New Yorker magazine Reporter Ryan Lizza was having a lobster roll lunch at a Bar Harbor restaurant on Monday when he learned that Anthony Scaramucci had been fired after only 10 days as White House communications director.
A few hours later, at the first session of the week-long Champlain Institute forum on the state of American democracy at College of the Atlantic (COA), Lizza talked about the now-famous call he received July 26 from Scaramucci – and the article he wrote about it – that apparently was a major factor in Scaramucci’s dismissal.
Lizza is Washington correspondent for The New Yorker magazine and a CNN commentator.
He told the overflow crowd at COA’s Gates Auditorium that his phone conversation with Scaramucci, who described other White House officials including Steve Bannon in vulgar terms, was “the most insane I’ve had with a senior government official in 20 years of reporting on Washington.”
Lizza said he takes no pleasure in someone getting fired.
‘But my job is not to hire and fire; my job is to explain these people to the public,” he said. “It was important to know what the communications director thought.”
Lizza said people have asked him if it was unfair to report on what Scaramucci might have thought was a private phone conversation.
“I said, ‘no,’ he’s the communications director for the White House and speaks for the most powerful institution in the world.
“When the communications director calls you… and says extremely newsworthy things, you only have two choices: suppress that or report it,” Lizza said.
Scaramucci, who is known in some circles by his nickname, “The Mooch,” replaced Sean Spicer the former press secretary. President Donald Trump’s decision to remove Scaramucci was announced Monday by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the current White House press secretary. It follows closely on the departure of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.