Making America dull again

Making America dull again
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If he wants to succeed as president, Joe BidenJoe BidenBudowsky: A Biden-McConnell state of emergency summit DC might win US House vote if it tries Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman inks deal with IMG Models MORE needs to make sure Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE sticks around.

The soon-to-be-former commander-in-chief is a media magnet. If Biden plays his cards right, Trump will continue to command the Washington press corps’ attention, leaving the new administration free to get some work done.

Based on his staff picks so far, the president-elect seems determined to make America dull again — or at least traditional American government. No selection comes even close to the entertainment value of Trump himself or the outsized characters who’ve populated his administration over the last four years.


Jennifer Psaki seems like a perfectly talented press secretary, someone who will no doubt hold competent daily White House briefings — but that can’t compare with the “must-see TV” created by Trump’s legendary media trio: Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerSean Spicer applies to join White House Correspondents' Association GOP lawmakers are showing up more frequently on Newsmax Making America dull again MORE, Sarah HuckabeeSarah SandersHouse Republican condemns anti-Trump celebrities during impeachment hearing Sarah Sanders on Trump's reported war dead criticism: 'Those comments didn't happen' Sarah Sanders memoir reportedly says Trump joked she should hook up with Kim Jong Un MORE Sanders, and Kayleigh McEnany. They’re a collective Captain Queeg to Psaki’s stable C.J. Cregg. And let’s not forget the short but captivating communications stint of Anthony ScaramucciAnthony ScaramucciPence, other GOP officials expected to skip Trump send-off Kelly says Trump can't admit to making mistakes: 'His manhood is at issue here' C-SPAN's Steve Scully completes his three month suspension MORE.

Elsewhere in the West Wing, Jake Sullivan is a solid choice for National Security Advisor — but “solid” is the last thing journalists want, not after four exciting years covering Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster and the endlessly engrossing John BoltonJohn BoltonPence, other GOP officials expected to skip Trump send-off NSA places former GOP political operative in top lawyer position after Pentagon chief's reported order After insurrection: The national security implications MORE. It’s doubtful Sullivan will ever label some foreign policy proposal a “drug deal,” and warn his staff to stay away.

Closer to the Oval Office, the media will find Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, a tested Washington veteran — but he could never step into the same bright spotlight as stars like Reince PriebusReinhold (Reince) Richard PriebusAuthor: Meadows is history's worst White House chief of staff Ex-White House officials urge Trump to condemn violence at Capitol Making America dull again MORE, John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, and — best of all — Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump campaign had paid .7M to organizers of rally ahead of Capitol riot: report Consumer bureau director resigns after Biden's inauguration FDA chief says he was 'disgusted' by Capitol riots, considered resigning MORE, famous for instructing reporters during impeachment to “get over it.”

At the State Department, journalists will soon find the the sober Antony Blinken; “sober,” however, just won’t stack up to the bluster of Mike PompeoMike PompeoChina: US military presence in South China Sea a threat to peace, stability White House installs new leadership at federally-funded international broadcasters US carrier group enters South China Sea amid tensions between China, Taiwan MORE — or Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonSenate to vote Tuesday on Biden's secretary of State pick Biden must wait weekend for State Department pick Tillerson: 'We squandered the best opportunity we had on North Korea' MORE, who once reportedly called his boss a “moron.”

Many voters will welcome the lower volume, but this could actually spell trouble for Biden.


The news business, after all, abhors a vacuum. Gaffes and scandals are the lifeblood of reporting in our nation’s capital — and the Trump years have delivered double — even triple and quadruple — doses of adrenaline. A Wikipedia entry titled “Trump administration controversies” runs 172 pages.

But, if under President Biden, controversies aren’t dished out by the truckload, reporters will go hunting themselves for something to write about, turning minor kerfuffles into distracting imbroglios in order to feed the media beast.

We’ve seen some of this already. Biden’s Office of Management and Budget nominee Neera Tanden apparently may be in trouble for some mean tweets aimed at a few GOP senators. Two other selections — Alejandro Mayorkas (Homeland Security) and Xavier Becerra (Health and Human Services) — face questions about their support, 20 years ago, for Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonBiden knows healing the US means addressing pandemic and economy first Can the media regain credibility under Biden? McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February MORE’s commutation of a well-connected donor’s prison sentence. 

This finger-wagging may seem selective, given Donald Trump’s estimated 17,000 tweets since 2015 — many of them not suitable for Hallmark — and the president’s own pardons and commutations of well-connected individuals like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. (Others are possibly in the works.)

But that’s what happens when news pickings turn suddenly slim: pseudo-scandals rise up like fog on the Potomac to fluster officials and derail agendas.

This is where the 45th President of the United States comes in. Many people in D.C. may want him to just go away, but Joe Biden shouldn’t be one of them.

Look how Trump has helped so far. By monopolizing every moment of the post-election season, he’s diverted the press and allowed Biden to quietly build a new government. The president-elect has issued a few statements, introduced some nominees — but he hasn’t dealt with reporters much; his main interviews so far have been relatively news free.

That’s because, right now, the press has a more captivating story to focus on: the current president’s wild fraud accusations, impressive string of court defeats, and the mystery surrounding what he might do come Inauguration Day. It’s a bonanza of front-page material that’s pushed Biden back next to the horoscopes and weather forecasts.

He may not like that, but the president-elect really needs his nemesis to keep it up.

Yes, Trump’s whining over the next four years will get frustrating, maybe even dangerous. And, yes, Biden will want to scream out, “Will you just shut up, man!”

But, if he wants to get anything done, Biden should hope Trump never shuts up.

Joe Ferullo is an award-winning media executive, producer and journalist and former executive vice president of programming for CBS Television Distribution. He was a news executive for NBC, a writer-producer for “Dateline NBC,” and worked for ABC News. Follow him on Twitter @ironworker1.