THE BLOG

The Mooch Channels His Inner David Brent

28/07/2017 14:43 BST | Updated 28/07/2017 14:44 BST
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Here, in ten glorious minutes, is Anthony Scaramucci's first interview with UK television. The nation cringed, then laughed, then sank into its sofa with horror. By the end, the nation was gobsmacked. The nation needed a stiff drink, preferably one before a Brexit-induced US-UK trade deal douses us in adulterated whisky.

For here, surely, was a new performance of the "special relationship." Scaramucci almost seemed the embodiment of a boxing match between HBO and the BBC. The Office meets The Sopranos. A fast-talking wise guy had studied Management at Wernham Hogg, scored top marks in his Hand and Body Language class, then ventured forth, and damn if he didn't land a top job at the White House.

We are usually quick to criticize our BBC pundits, but how can we not leap to the defence of Emily Maitlis and proclaim her a national treasure for staying upright during a Mooch tornado, that spinning funnel cloud of words that gives away nothing and lays waste to interviews? Emily did her best to challenge the gesticulating motor mouth, but Anthony practiced the Situationist art of détournement, rerouting her challenges to jangled narratives of cultural difference. "So you're from Great Britain. I'm not from Great Britain... I'm from a town that's right on the border of Queens... So we have a little bit of a different communication style."

The Mooch joked about the differences between back stabbing and front stabbing; he riffed about elite Brits and touched the female interviewer inappropriately (no Anthony, just no). Then he had the gall to make common cause with Emily, casting himself as victim of a culture shock as drastic as the one he had just delivered! The problem, he claimed, is Washington D.C. "You're lucky for you that you don't live here in Washington, because what happens here in Washington is people say one thing to your face, but they don't really mean it, and they say something else behind your back."

The Mooch is just like the President, he told us, a plain speaker in a town of back stabbers and purveyors of fake news. The Mooch loves Trump, because Trump is a loyal guy, but the loyalty "has to be symmetrical, and good loyalty is always symmetrical. You don't want asymmetrical loyalty." Leakers, beware. Here was a glimpse behind the Mooch curtain. You could imagine him telling anxious White House staffers to "Fahget about it" with the confusing menace of Joe Pesci channeling his inner David Brent.

The interview was mangled repeatedly by deal-maker talk. Washington is the home of (fake) "Scandals Incorporated." The history of America is of a "disruptive start-up... a group of rich guys that got together and said... we're going to break away from the other country and start our own country... You know what the President's doing? He's bringing it back to its roots of disruption." And there you have it, dear Brits. The inception of the special relationship reworked for the era of Trump. As an American, I can only say I am sorry. Oh, and remember, some days you have to laugh to stop yourself from crying. Oh and now, back to the resistance. Yeah, okay, like the Mooch, I talk too much. Some days, I just don't know when to stop.

(with thanks to Isaac Blaug for pointing out the David Brent reminders and finding the clips)