Anthony “The Mooch” Scaramucci, Donald Trump’s newly contrived hitman, is a dapper, vulgar, hot-headed Gotti-like figure who is very rich after moving a lot of investment money around on Wall Street.

In the wealthiest circles, Mooch is said to be highly regarded, particularly by Boss Trump, otherwise known as the capo di tutti capi who is going around telling people that he doesn’t get the protection he deserves by Republicans.

Enter Scaramucci, who burst in on the Potomac scene as the new White House Communications Director with threats that he will fire everybody on the staff if they don’t stop leaking sensitive information. That doubtless pleased his boss as much as the Mooch’s repeated vows that he loves Trump. By now you can see where all of this is leading for people who like their day jobs.

As self-glorifying as Scaramucci is, his attempts to silence the leakers reveals a guy totally over his head. After many years in the business, I can safely say that many journalists, including me, have made a decent living off leaks. My best articles were based on what somebody privately told me with the confidence they wouldn’t be exposed once I checked them out. That was true of most of the other reporters. The exchange was based on mutual trust and we knew that if we violated it we would never hear from the source again.

Over the years, leaks led me to write that Ronald Reagan had decided to challenge Gerald Ford in the Ohio Republican primary. That leak came from one of Reagan’s insiders who enjoyed the interplay of leak and published story. (Reagan first denied it after it appeared in print. But he did challenge Ford.)

Or that George Voinovich had decided to run as Jim Rhodes’ lieutenant governor even though he had said earlier that Rhodes was too old to seek another term. When I asked my source how he knew that, he said , ”Trust me. I just heard him tell somebody on the phone.” George called me to argue that the piece was premature. But the leak was on the mark.

He ran.

There were others over the years, but i just thought you might want to see how the moving parts work. A politics writer is only as good as the leakers who then get up to read the story in the morning paper.

Mooch has much to learn. He even leaned on Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker in a futile attempt to get the writer to reveal the name of the person who gave Lizza the word of a private dinner meeting that included Trump and Fox’s Sean Hannity. Lizza didn’t cave as Mooch unloaded a profane tirade (which you can find online) about the leaker that he supposed was Reince Priebus.

Sorry, Mooch. You will grow insufferably tiresome puffing you’re threats and weird notion of government by gangland edict. The truth eventually works its way into the public domain.

That brings me to the most significant leak in a lifetime: The Washington Post’s Woodward and Bernstein reports that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon. Not even Ben Bradlee, the Post’s iconic editor, knew the source and warned his Watergate reporting team that the paper’s reputation was on the line . “You had better be right,” Bradlee warned.

And they were.

Those of us who are concerned about the integrity of professional journalism as well as that of the White House share the feeling.

 

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