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Chaos of Trump White House defies media metaphors

John Kelly, who was sworn in July 31 as White House chief of staff, told Scaramucci that morning that he would be replaced. (July 31, 2017)

After Friday's firing of White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, cable news anchors started using the metaphor of a hurricane to describe the furious pace of change and chaos at the White House.

The notion of a deadly storm that was out of control looked like it might replace the favorite media metaphor of a reality TV show for Trump's administration.

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But by Monday afternoon, as news broke of the firing of communications director Anthony Scaramucci, even the idea of a hurricane or the New York Post catchphrase "Survivor White House" no longer seemed strong enough to describe what was going on with Team Trump.

Scaramucci had been on the job only 10 days. In fact, he wasn't supposed to officially start until mid-August. And he was out as communications director only hours after a new chief of staff, retired Marine general John Kelly, was sworn in this morning..

Cable news loves chaos and out-of-the-blue-breaking news. It's the motor that drives massive tune-in and big ratings.

Trump might be a disaster for comity and good government, but he's a gift from the gods for cable news channels. And he's the gift that just keeps giving, as he did with his latest move Monday afternoon.

But even cable looked at times today like it might not be able to keep up with this kind of tumult.

On MSNBC, host Katy Tur said, "Wow, he's only been there about a week," when she announced the news.

"And you can hear the reaction in the newsroom," she added as audio picked up exclamations and gasps in the background.

"Again, this is only from the New York Times, but apparently we've confirmed this, too," she said.

Tur kiddingly thanked two contributors who were rushed onto the set for "saving" her.

The guests, Elise Jordan and Harold Ford, looked as surprised as Tur by the latest Trump news, but the three of them quickly settled into an informative conversation about the abrupt firing of the profane and controversial Scaramucci.

Give MSNBC credit for finding its feet quickly and getting on the story in a smart way. And give Tur extra credit for giving viewers some sense of what breaking news feels like in a cable news studio. She was superb.

CNN was on it quickly as well with host Brooke Baldwin deftly leading a discussion that included Mark Preston, senior political analyst; Gloria Borger, chief political analyst; and David Chalian, the channel's political director.

Senior media correspondent Brian Stelter and Ryan Lizza, the CNN contributor who had that incredibly profane interview with Scaramucci last week, were also brought on.

That's a lot of firepower and insight. But, like their counterparts at MSNBC, even some of them admitted feeling rocked by events.

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I've been hoping a great new metaphor would come to me while I was writing this post. But I have to admit I am rocked, too.

Rocked and open to suggestions for a new metaphor that might help make sense of such unprecedented and seemingly erratic White House changes.

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