Scaramucci brings Wall Street salesmanship to White House

Newly appointed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is a financier with no formal public relations experience.
Newly appointed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is a financier with no formal public relations experience.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Mr Anthony Scaramucci, the Trump administration's just-hired communications director, has a lot in common with his new boss.

Both made it in Manhattan after coming from the city's outskirts. Both enjoy the limelight, attracting attention by writing books and hosting television shows. And both are best known within their industries for their salesmanship.

A financier with no formal public relations experience may seem like an odd choice for President Donald Trump's top spokesman. But Mr Scaramucci is a networker, not a trader. A frequent presence on business television, he is the glad-handing host of an annual conference in Las Vegas where some of Wall Street's biggest names mingle with political notables like former vice-president Joe Biden.

The firm he founded, SkyBridge Capital, gathers money from investors and hands it over to other hedge funds to manage. Mr Scaramucci was persuasive enough to attract almost US$12 billion (S$16.3 billion) in assets to SkyBridge.

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Now he is taking the sales skills he learnt on Wall Street to the White House, where he will have to manage a Washington press corps that has largely turned hostile and sell an unpopular agenda to the American people.

"He's a great communicator and very charismatic although he's stereotyped as kind of a salesman," said Mr Robert Wolf of 32 Advisors in New York.

At his debut at the White House on Friday, Mr Scaramucci, 53, deflected any probing questions, made self-deprecating jokes and confidently declared his "love" for the President several times.

Sources say Mr Scaramucci impressed the administration when his complaint forced CNN to retract a story last month saying that he was under investigation over his meeting with a Russian investment fund executive. A reporter and two editors resigned.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 23, 2017, with the headline 'Scaramucci brings Wall Street salesmanship to White House'. Print Edition | Subscribe