An eruption of profanity by a Trump administration official during an interview tested news operations on how graphic they’re willing to get in reporting the news.
“Anthony Scaramucci, the incoming White House communications director, aimed his tirade at chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon,” the AP reports. “An account of his conversation late Wednesday with Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker was published in graphic detail Thursday afternoon on the magazine’s website, complete with expletives and anatomical references.”
While a number of print outlets ran the obscenities — in some cases avoiding the choicest ones — TV operations stepped around the story more gingerly.
“Television networks, knowing they would have to say the words out loud, generally stayed away from them,” the AP notes. “Anderson Cooper, in an interview with Lizza, let him describe the reference to Bannon.”
The Bannon reference is one of the most graphic in Scaramucci’s rant. The AP quotes Lizza asking CNN’s Cooper, “You’re going to make me read this one?” to which Cooper responds: “Use your judgment.”
“Although CNN wouldn’t use the words on the air, they were printed on the network’s website, along with a stern warning that an article contained graphic language,” the AP notes.
Elsewhere in TV news, anchors used terms such as “expletive” and “bleeping” to work around the colorful language.
The report quotes MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow describing the reference to Bannon as suggesting that he “performs an anatomically difficult but not impossible act of a kind that suggests he is more interested in serving his own self than the president.”
Meanwhile, on the “CBS Evening News,” Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett said Scaramucci used language “more fit for the outhouse than the White House.”
Below is a clip posted today by CNN in which Jake Tapper offers his take on the story — including the sensitivities associated with reporting it on television.