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From Trump to Biden, TV Captures a Dramatic Shift

  • January 20, 2021

Pomp and celebration, the usual TV tropes of the day, were laced with remarks about a potential outbreak of violence, not an unreasonable concern in the wake of what occurred at the Capitol. And then there was the absence of Mr. Trump himself, the first president in 152 years to skip out on the inauguration of his successor.

“This is a moment to turn the page,” said the “60 Minutes” correspondent John Dickerson. “We just have never seen a president who tried to hold on to the book.”

Marine One took Mr. Trump from the White House to Andrews Air Force Base, where he orchestrated his own farewell scene. Visually, it was no match for the patriotic regalia in store for Mr. Biden at the Capitol. A few chants of “Thank you, Trump,” could be heard from the small crowd.

This was not the fearsome protagonist of “The Apprentice,” nor the pugnacious campaigner of his rallies. Instead, Mr. Trump delivered an off-the-cuff and somewhat circuitous speech, concluding, “Have a good life.”

On Fox News, the images were overlaid with commentary in defense of Mr. Trump. “Regarding the press, he never got a break,” the “Fox Friends” co-host Steve Doocy told viewers. “He’s got to be a little steamed that nobody in the history of the American presidency has been beaten up as badly as Donald Trump has over the past four years.”

As for Mr. Trump, he kept up his role as executive producer of the presidency until the very end. He walked a red carpet to the entrance to Air Force One, boarding the presidential aircraft as the Village People’s disco anthem “Y.M.C.A.” blared from loudspeakers.

The cameras stuck with Air Force One as it prepared to take off at around 9 a.m. With anchors hushed, a familiar valedictory tune could be heard: Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The song reached a climax as the wheels of Air Force One left the ground. On CNN, the panelists could not suppress a few chuckles.

Cut to an image of Mr. Biden and the future first lady attending a morning church service. “The Biden family,” said the anchor Anderson Cooper. “A new beginning.”

Tiffany Hsu contributed reporting.

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