In my 35 years in public relations, I’ve often lamented about how, since PR people don’t need official credentials to practice, anyone can print business cards and call themselves a PR practitioner. Apparently, the same is true for the White House’s director of communication, the government’s top PR job.
Anthony Scaramucci, known to friends as “Mooch,” is a native Long Islander who earned degrees from Tufts and Harvard. A successful Wall Street financier, he has supported both Democrats and Republicans. But he has no PR or communication experience except as owner of the TV series, Wall Street Week, and appearances on Fox networks. His main qualification seems to be his love for Donald Trump. Apparently, experience is no longer needed to be in charge of White House communications.
Unlike Scaramucci, Sean Spicer had the experience to be the president’s top spokesman. He was communications director at the Republican National Committee for several years and held communication positions for the House Budget Committee, the GOP Conference of the House of Representatives, and the trade office in George W. Bush’s administration. He earned degrees from Connecticut College and the Naval War College in Rhode Island. Spicer was also a partner at a PR firm he co-founded, representing foreign governments and corporations doing business with the U.S. government.
But it was quickly obvious that Spicer was playing to an audience of one and was subsequently unable to work with the press — or the truth. His newly-acquired confrontational style belied his earlier reputation as an affable straight-shooter; he became the subject of controversy and scorn, and a target for late night comedy. When Anthony Scaramucci’s new role was announced last week, Spicer resigned as communications director and press secretary.
While Scaramucci can’t be all-bad — he’s a die-hard Mets fan and even owns about one percent of the team, there’s little doubt he’ll be expected to follow the same anti-media road map as his predecessor. Sean Spicer will likely land on his feet; he may write, become a cable news commentator, or go back to his PR firm. So, goodbye “Spicey” and hello “Mooch.”