As “Washington Week” host Robert Costa waited to take the stage at the Television Critics Association press tour Monday in Beverly Hills, he exchanged texts with a source. Just moments earlier, the New York Times had reported that Anthony Scaramucci had been fired from his post as White House communications director just 10 days into his tenure.
“You guys think you’re the only ones covering drama, right?” Costa, a reporter for the Washington Post, joked as the “Washington Week” panel began. “Oh my gosh, we’re waiting to come up for this show, and the Mooch is out. He’s gone.”
Costa described the text conversation he had just had with a source about Scaramucci’s exit, which came in the wake of Gen. John F. Kelly’s appointment as White House chief of staff.
“A source said, ‘The family really didn’t like the Scaramucci interview,” Costa said, referring to the departed communications director’s profanity-laced tirade to a New Yorker reporter last week. “‘It was too vulgar. It was embarrassing to the White House.'”
Costa described a “perception gap” in the White House between what Trump’s family and inner circle can get away with and what so-called “outsiders” can.
“If you’re an outsider in this White House, you’re always vulnerable,” Costa said.
Asked to guess what the next “shoe to drop” at the White House might be, Costa predicted that Kelly would make his mark on a White House where he has been tasked with restoring order.
“I think the next shoe to drop may be some stability,” Costa said. “I’ve known Kelly. I’ve covered Gen. Kelly. He’s someone who doesn’t really align with the Jared Kushner wing of the White House, the more moderate wing. He doesn’t have a close link to Bannon and the populist nationalists in the administration, the hardcore Trump group. So he may be able to balance. But the president’s still tweeting. He hasn’t got a hold of his Twitter yet. So we’ll see how effective he can be.”
In April, Costa was named moderator of “Washington Week,” succeeding the late Gwen Ifill.
“I’ve seen a reaction in our audience,” Costa said of his approach to the panel show, which gathers reporters to discuss the week’s political news. “People are responding just to journalism. It’s a black box in Washington right now. What’s actually happening? How do you get a grip on what’s happening? ‘Washington Week’ is a place where we hope people will come, settle in and say, ‘Here’s the top reporters, no frills. You’re going to hear it from the people who are seeing it up close.