The Shutdown that Ruined Christmas?

October 23, 2013 - 3:46 AM
The numbers are in for the evening news coverage of the shutdown. During the first 15 nights of October, ABC, CBS and NBC blamed the Republicans 41 times for the shutdown, blamed both sides 17 times, and blamed Obama and the Democrats ... never.

Let's just focus on NBC, where Brian Williams obediently pushed White House talking points. Williams described the consequences as nearly criminal on the Oct. 8 Nightly News: "All kinds of people are getting cheated out of salaries, benefits, medical treatment."

But NBC was cheating viewers out of truth by deliberately telling only half the story. On Oct. 3, NBC correspondent Tom Costello showcased how "the mother of an 18-month-old has been told her rare sarcoma could be terminal. But without funding, any new NIH clinical drug trials are on hold." The "Nightly News" crew ran three additional stories mentioning the deferral of NIH trials and the suffering patients affected.

But NBC never told its viewers that the GOP House had voted on Oct. 2 to restore that funding, only to be rebuffed by Senate Democrats.

On the very first night, Oct. 1, NBC already sounded like a DNC campaign commercial. Reporter John Yang highlighted an EPA worker in Chicago, Elizabeth Lytle, who had already filed for unemployment benefits. Lytle told NBC: "Right now, I'm terrified. I'm terrified to the point where, OK, what's going to happen?"

Despite her $52,000-a-year salary, Lytle is an experienced "victim." Back in March, the eco-news site Greenwire also focused on her suffering from sequestration. "The GS-8 level employee who has worked at EPA for nearly eight years got rid of the television during the first year of the now three-year federal pay freeze in order to save money. Since then, she's also gotten rid of the land line for her telephone — though she keeps the Internet cable because she needs it for work."

Here, too, was ethical fraud: NBC and other outlets didn't say so, but Lytle had been previously featured in the media by her union, the American Federation of Government Employees. She appeared on their radio show "Inside Government" to complain about the cruel sequester.

When the networks have blamed the Republicans this aggressively, then every victim is a Republican victim, not an Obama victim. "This current showdown and this current government shutdown traces its history back to a determined core of GOP House members who are vehemently against Obamacare and were willing to shut down the government because of it," Williams asserted on Oct. 14.

When it was over, Williams announced "the 16-day government shutdown caused grave damage, beyond the erosion of remaining faith in elected officials, beyond the damage to U.S. prestige, it hurt a lot of Americans, some of whom cannot ever recover what they lost. Politically, it's widely agreed to have been a big loss and self-inflicted wound, mostly for the Republican Party." It's not self-inflicted. It's media-inflicted. Dare to cross the Obama-loving media and they punish you and then announce that you punished yourself.

They created Republican victims in 1995, too, when reporters in that "Gingrich shutdown" filed stories saying federal employees wouldn't be able to afford a Christmas tree that year. On Oct. 4, 2013, NBC led off with sympathetic Head Start teacher Wendy Robinson, single mom of three, who had just been paid, but complained: "I'm at a loss for words, really, about it because I'm not used to not giving my kids a Christmas."

Even after the shutdown, on Sunday, Oct. 20, NBC's Bertha Coombs was pushing GOP-impoverished moms again: "Jessica Moss of Antelope, Calif., is busy making holiday presents because she can't afford to buy as much this year." Moss said, "We might spend about 50 percent less on our own kids for Christmas gifts and use a lot of hand-me-down gifts that we have received from friends."

The only financial loss cited by NBC was this military wife having to shop for groceries at Safeway for two weeks instead of the subsidized commissary.

Coombs added to the Republican Grinch attack: "Retailers are hoping the shutdown doesn't become the Grinch that stole Christmas, but they're worried it will." An online addition to this piece carried the headline "How the government shutdown stole Christmas." Once the networks blamed the Grinchy conservatives for the shutdown, viewers can be led to believe that conservatives hate Christmas as much as they hate a functioning government.

There's a reason the ratings for these propaganda shows keep collapsing.