What Doesn’t Anthony Scaramucci Know, and Why Doesn’t He Know It?

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2017/07/28/what-doesnt-anthony-scaramucci-know-and-why-doesnt-he-know-it/

President Donald Trump’s new communications director thinks a reporter will tell you who his confidential source is if you ask him.

That’s the headline from Anthony Scaramucci’s profanity-laced tirade published by Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker.

Actually, “profanity-laced” is a woeful understatement. The disgusting language Scaramucci  used is stomach-turning.

But not as shocking, given the ever-lowering standards of language in our society, as the point of his call to Lizza.

Here are the small details of the inside-baseball tiff that the vast majority of Americans don’t care about:

Lizza, a left-leaning reporter for the left-leaning, always-anti-Trump magazine The New Yorker, tweeted a moderately interesting detail:  Trump and his wife Melania had dinner recently with Scaramucci, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and former Fox News executive Bill Shine. It’s somewhat interesting who has access to the president, so this is news. (Of a kind.)

Scaramucci apparently thought that his rival, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, leaked the information, apparently out of concern that Priebus wasn’t invited to the dinner.

(Aside:  This is the sort of story that may or may not make for an interesting vignette in someone’s memoirs five or ten years from now.)

Most of the attention about this incident is being given to Scaramucci’s language and to the palace intrigue in the Trump White House. But the purpose of Scaramucci’s call is the aspect that’s most puzzling.

There are associate members of local planning boards who know that a reporter isn’t going to give up a source just because you ask him. A source is a stock-in-trade for a reporter. There’s the moral aspect of giving your word to someone that you won’t reveal who he is. And for reporters who aren’t interested in that, there’s the more incentive-laden aspect that if you reveal a confidential source then no one else is likely to be your confidential source in the future.

This helps explain why some reporters go to jail on contempt-of-court charges rather than give up a source. It isn’t that all (or most or many) reporters are such great people; it’s that it’s part of the culture of reporting not to reveal anything you promised you wouldn’t, and it’s hard to stay in the business if you do.

The question is:  Why doesn’t Scaramucci know this? And what sort of White House director of communications doesn’t?

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