Five warning signs from new White House communications director Scaramucci's first press conference
1. He refused to commit to the return of regular on-camera press briefings.
JON KARL: I see the cameras are back, will you commit now to holding regular on-camera briefings?
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI: If [Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders] provides hair and makeup, I will consider it. But I need a lot of hair and makeup, Jon, OK? […] I am up here today only because I think it’s the first day; we made a mutual decision that would make sense for me to come up here and try to answer as many questions as possible. But — and the answer is we may. I have to talk to the president about that. I like consulting with the president before I make decisions like that.
2. When asked if he’ll promise “accurate information and truth,” he responded “I sort of feel like I don’t even have to answer that question,” adding “I hope you can feel that from me, just from my body language.”
KARL: There’s been a question about credibility, some things that have been said in this room. Let me ask you a variation of what I asked Sean Spicer on his first day. Is it your commitment to, to the best of your ability, give accurate information and truth from that podium?
SCARAMUCCI: I sort of feel like I don’t even have to answer that question. I hope you can feel that from me, just from my body language, that’s the kind of person I am. I’m going to do the best I can.
3. He deflected from a question about the Russia investigation by bragging about President Trump’s supposed sports abilities.
SARA MURRAY: Obviously we know the president has been feeling under siege with the Russia investigation, both from the Department of Justice but also on the Hill. Do you feel like he was feeling exposed? He didn’t have people adequately coming to his defense? Is that part of the reason that we have you here today?
SCARAMUCCI: No, I don’t think so. So, one of the things that I’m doing today is – I sort of didn’t have my White House counsel briefing before I’m having the press briefing, so I want to limit my remarks related to the Russia situation and things like that. But here’s what I’ll tell you about the president: he’s the most competitive person I’ve ever met, OK? I’ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire. I’ve seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on, he’s standing in the key and he’s hitting foul shots and swishing them, OK? He sinks three-foot putts. I don’t see this guy as a guy that’s ever under siege. This is a very, very competitive person. Obviously there’s a lot of incoming that comes into the White House, but the president’s a winner, OK, and what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a lot of winning.
4. He said “I sort of don’t like the fake news,” and claimed “there feels like there’s a little bit of media bias” out there.
MURRAY: One other question, in terms of the relationship that this press operation has had with news outlets, they’ve made a habit of calling these outlets they don’t like “fake news,” calling stories they don’t like “fake news,” calling errors that were then corrected — using that as an example to call entire news outlets “fake news,” is that the kind of relationship you want with media outlets? What kind of — how do you envision that relationship?
SCARAMUCCI: Again, I will speak for myself right now, because I don’t — it’s my first day on the job, I’ve got to get familiar with everybody, get direction from the president, but I had a personal incident with your news organization and I thought I handled it well. You guys said something about me that was totally unfair and untrue, you retracted it and issued me an apology, and I accepted the apology immediately. For me, I’ve never been a journalist, but I have played a journalist on television. I used to host Wall Street Week for Fox Business, so I have empathy for journalists in terms of sometimes they’re going to get stories wrong. But I sort of don’t like the fake news, and if you said to me that there is some media bias out there – if you want me to be as candid as I would like to be with you guys — there feels like there’s a little bit of media bias, and so what we hope we can do is de-escalate that and turn that around and let’s let the message from the president get out there to the American people.
5. He claimed there’s “probably some level of truth” to the lie that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 general election “if the president says it.”
REPORTER: Do you stand by some of the factual claims that have been contested, that have been made by this administration — three million illegal votes cast for the president’s opponent? Do you now, do you endorse all of those statements of fact [inaudible]?
SCARAMUCCI: So, a little bit of an unfair question because I’m not up to speed on all of that, so I just got to candidly tell you that.
REPORTER: The president said that three million people voted illegally and there is no evidence of that. Do you stand by that or not?
SCARAMUCCI: OK, so if the president says it, OK, let me do more research on it. My guess is that there’s probably some level of truth to that. I think what we have found sometimes, the president says stuff, some of you guys in the media think it’s not true or isn’t true, and it turns out it is closer to the truth than people think. So let me do more homework on that and I’ll get back to you.