‘I Can Tell You 2 Fish That Don’t Stink’: How Anthony Scaramucci Is Bringing Mob Talk to the White House

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, aka Scaramucci Mane, is a proud Italian American who at times sounds a lot like Ray Liotta from Goodfellas. I think this is not only purposeful but also plays into a stereotypical belief about tough Italian men—and I think Scaramucci likes it this way.


Let’s remember that Scaramucci Mane was brought in to stop leaks coming out of the White House Office of Communications. Since he became the White House communications director, a position whose only qualifications were sounding tough and being a white man, he’s already fired senior assistant White House press secretary Michael Short, a reported Reince Priebus guy, and has threatened to fire everyone else. At this point, I’m waiting for Scaramucci to walk over to the bar door, lock it and turn to everyone inside and say, “Now yous can’t leave.”

He also vaguely came for White House chief of staff Priebus on Twitter, causing everyone to speculate that Priebus is the White House leaker. In short, in Scaramucci Mane’s first full week as communications director, he’s putting people on notice and playing up the tough-guy Italian archetype that has appeared in every movie about the mob. He’s part Henry Hill from Goodfellas, part Michael Corleone from Godfather and part Sonny LoSpecchio from A Bronx Tale. And I must admit that he’s doing a good job of selling it.

During an open-mic moment on CNN in which the host had just finished talking to the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, who tweeted that Scaramucci Mane absolutely believes that Priebus is the leaker, the Italian Stallion began talking directly to Lizza, who had left the set. Scaramucci Mane had apparently told Lizza the night before that not revealing his sources was unpatriotic.

“I was teasing you,” he told Lizza. “It was sarcastic. It was one Italian to another.” This sounds like the kind of thing that Robert De Niro’s character would say to someone in Goodfellas right before they got whacked.

It’s the same way that Scaramucci Mane talks about the president. He doesn’t sound as if he’s talking about the leader of the free world or the president of the United States; he sounds as if he’s talking about a Mafia “made man” who orders people around. Read this next Scaramucci Mane quote aloud in your best Michael Corleone voice and tell me it doesn’t feel mobbish:

I also want you to know I spent about 15 minutes on the phone talking with the president of the United States, who has given me his full support and his full blessing.


The pièce de résistance is this little Italian nugget he dropped during the same CNN interview:

As you know, from the Italian expression, the fish stinks from the head down. I can tell you two fish that don’t stink. That’s me and the president.


I can’t make this stuff up.

Read more at CNN.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.


Edfonzo Algardo

How long until criticism of Scaramucci gets labeled as “racism against Italians”? Or has that already begun?