Making America dull again

Making America dull again
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If he wants to succeed as president, Joe Biden needs to make sure Donald TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC 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 SpicerDeSantis to hold Newsmax town hall Biden's poor TV ratings against Trump is exactly what this administration wants Overnight Health Care: CDC director calls on Michigan to 'close things down' amid surge in cases | Regeneron says antibody therapy prevents COVID-19 infections MORE, Sarah HuckabeeSarah SandersTrump expected to resume rallies in June Andrew Giuliani planning run for New York governor Trump appears at Sarah Huckabee Sanders campaign event 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 ScaramucciInfluential Republicans detail call to reform party, threaten to form new one Anthony Scaramucci joining CNBC as a contributor Biden doubles down on normal at White House 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 BoltonUS drops lawsuit, closes probe over Bolton book John Bolton: Biden-Putin meeting 'premature' Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process 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 PriebusDemocrats claim vindication, GOP cries witch hunt as McGahn finally testifies Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet Governor races to test COVID-19 response, Trump influence MORE, John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, and — best of all — Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' 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 PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? Nikki Haley warns Republicans on China: 'If they take Taiwan, it's all over' The Hill's Morning Report - Dems to go-it-alone on infrastructure as bipartisan plan falters MORE — or Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHouse passes legislation to elevate cybersecurity at the State Department Biden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet With salami-slicing and swarming tactics, China's aggression continues 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 BidenJoe BidenChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report OVERNIGHT ENERGY:  EPA announces new clean air advisors after firing Trump appointees |  Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior | Watchdog: Bureau of Land Management saw messaging failures, understaffing during pandemic Poll: Majority back blanket student loan forgiveness MORE, 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 ClintonFire-proofing forests is not possible Obama's presidential center may set modern record for length of delay Appeals court affirms North Carolina's 20-week abortion ban is unconstitutional 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.