Tufts University canceled a speech featuring former White House Communications Chief Anthony Scaramucci after he threatened to sue a student and the school newspaper for defamation.
Anthony Scaramucci, who spent less than two weeks at White House communications director in July before being removed in humiliating fashion, has threatened to sue the student newspaper at his alma mater, Tufts University, over a critical op-ed that called him an “unethical opportunist.” Scaramucci has also served on the advisory board at Tuft’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy since 2016.
The column in question was written by graduate student Camilo Caballero. “A man who is irresponsible, inconsistent, an unethical opportunist and who exuded the highest degree of disreputability should not be on the Fletcher Board,” Caballero wrote. “The Board of Advisors plays a critical role in building the spirit of our school and also, in more practical terms, board members define and oversee our school’s operations.”
“This is Anthony Scaramucci, a man who began his infamously short career as the White House communications director by uttering profanity-laced comments on national news outlets, the man who sold his soul in contradiction to his own purported beliefs for a seat in that White House and a man who makes his Twitter accessible to friends interested in giving comfort to Holocaust deniers,” he continued.
Scaramucci was not happy with Caballero’s column. On November 16, Scaramucci issued a warning to Caballero, asking him to either back up his claims or retract the article. Through his attorney, Scaramucci threatened to sue the student and the newspaper for defamation. “So either back it up or you will hear from my lawyer,” Scaramucci wrote. “You may have a difference of opinion from me politically which I respect but you can’t make spurious claims about my reputation and integrity.”
Cabellero fired back, arguing that Scaramucci is trying to shut down his right to express himself on campus. “He is someone that uses his money to gain power and his wealth to buy himself into things that will get him attention. And he uses this power as a scare tactic… to get people to not exercise their First Amendment rights,” Caballero said. “He’s trying to stop me from exercising my First Amendment right, and that’s plain wrong.”
As a result of the debacle, Tufts postponed a lecture that Scaramucci was scheduled to give on campus. “I’m shocked that a university that I love and have been a part of for 35 years is silencing that debate because of my request for an apology,” Scaramucci said in a statement.
Stop baselessly threatening to sue students and I’m sure you’ll be invited back. https://t.co/l3qadSlrut
— Daniel W. Drezner (@dandrezner) November 27, 2017