Shutdown in the Media

A couple of interesting pieces out today from Aljazeera America and the New Republic.

First, Noam Scheiber’s Fox observations at the New Republic:

Conservatives Have Already Lost Control of the Shutdown Narrative

My headline,: Emoprogs Do Republican/Fox Bidding (my emphasis):

“… Republicans had exactly one hope for weathering the shutdown fight: turning it into a debate on the merits of Obamacare (as opposed to the merits of defunding Obamacare). That’s the one aspect of this confrontation where they hold an advantage, since more Americans oppose the president’s health care law than favor it. And, as luck would have it for the GOP, the central feature of the law went online Tuesday morning, at the precise moment the lights were going out on the federal government.

Scheiber may have pointed out that the Shutdown and ensuing rhetoric achieves one thing that hasn’t been discussed with any relish – how the Shutdown sabotaged the Affordable Care Act’s debut.

As if to mock the despairing apparatchiks, every half hour brought another report from a correspondent in the field surveying the landscape of shuttered facilities. The Statue of Liberty. Bunker Hill. My favorite was a group of WWII veterans who’d trekked to Washington to tour the World War II memorial, only to find it barricaded when they got there. Fox played the footage over and over, clearlly sensing a prime Kulturkamp opportunity – aging war veterans made to suffer indignities by socialist president. But none of the Foxies narrating the story could quite figure out what to do with the fact that it takes government money to build memorials, and government money to keep them open. And so it just hung there as an implicit rebuke of Republicans.

It was all enough to make your average Fox anchor a little… sad. “There’s all this infighting, people are blaming Republicans,” protested Gretchen Carlson, late of “Fox and Friends,” now of her own daily 2 o’clock show, evincing none of her trademark perky menace. “We should be talking about Obamacare, instead we’re talking about the shutdown.”


Carlson’s right: Fox and its political arm (aka the Republican Party) really should be talking Obamacare if it hopes to tread water these next few weeks. That it can’t tells you all you need to know about which way this thing is headed.

Bonus Link: The Scholarly flaws of Liberal Fascism

Dan Froomkin at Aljazeera, with an equally important point about what the Shutdown means to us and more importantly, to the global community: The GOP’s shutdown of American government demonstrates the failure of America’s democracy.

Shutdown Coverage Fails Americans


U.S. news reports are largely blaming the government shutdown on the inability of both political parties to come to terms. It is supposedly the result of a “bitterly divided” Congress that “failed to reach agreement” (Washington Post) or “a bitter budget standoff” left unresolved by “rapid-fire back and forth legislative maneuvers” (New York Times). This sort of false equivalence is not just a failure of journalism. It is also a failure of democracy.

When the political leadership of this country is incapable of even keeping the government open, a political course correction is in order. But how can democracy self-correct if the public does not understand where the problem lies? And where will the pressure for change come from if journalists do not hold the responsible parties accountable?

The truth of what happened Monday night, as almost all political reporters know full well, is that “Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance.” (Thank you, Guardian.)

And holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. There is no historical precedent for it.


What makes all this more than a journalistic failure is that the press plays a crucial role in our democracy. We count on the press to help create an informed electorate. And perhaps even more important, we rely on the press to hold the powerful accountable.

That requires calling out political leaders when they transgress or fail to meet commonly agreed-upon standards: when they are corrupt, when they deceive, when they break the rules and refuse to govern. Such exposure is the first consequence. When the transgressions are sufficiently grave, what follows should be continued scrutiny, marginalization, contempt and ridicule.

In the current political climate, journalistic false equivalence leads to an insufficiently informed electorate, because the public is not getting an accurate picture of what is going on.

Journalists have been suckered into embracing ‘balance’ and ‘neutrality’ at all costs.

But the lack of accountability is arguably even worse because it has the characteristics of a cascade failure. When the media coverage seeks down-the-middle neutrality despite one party’s outlandish conduct, there are no political consequences for their actions. With no consequences for extremism, politicians who have succeeded using such conduct have an incentive to become even more extreme. The more extreme they get, the further the split-the-difference press has to veer from common sense in order to avoid taking sides. And so on.


The political press should be the public’s first line of defense when it comes to assessing who is deviating from historic norms and practices, who is risking serious damage to the nation, whose positions are based in irrational phobias and ignorance rather than data and reason.


Time to think about Media Accountability and it’s time to take up John Nichols’ call for publicly funded journalism.


Perhaps the Washington Post can read the writing on the wall – the public will have to demand more from the media. Maybe WP got wind of Froomkin because it seems to have changed its standard tune of false equivalence-rightward lean. The editorial board yesterday ran this headline:

House Republicans are Failing Americans in their effort to kill Obamacare

AMERICANS’ RESPECT for their Congress has, sad to say, diminished in recent years. But citizens still expect a minimal level of competence and responsibility: Pay the bills and try not to embarrass us in front of the world.

By those minimal standards, this Congress is failing. More specifically, the Republican leaders of the House of Representatives are failing. They should fulfill their basic duties to the American people or make way for legislators who will.

Wow. Unprecedented.

Below this headline is another surprise perspective: Federal Workers deserve better than Congress’s disregard


And one last must-read: Defending the health of our democracy 

Be sure to read the two embedded must-read links from The Washington Post and The New York Times

These last three are probably the most important reads of all.



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39 thoughts on “Shutdown in the Media

  1. This entire TP one act tragicomedy and its ending is so predictable. Bama has ’em by the balls.

  2. These House Seats are gerrymandered into guaranteed gridlock. No consequences for teabaggers just more and more unhinged candidates.

  3. A CNN reporter was criticized for reporting on Obama & other democratic speeches instead of “the issues” of intransigence and unaffordability
    The reporter then criticized the Democrat Senator for citing “talking Points” instead of Obama’s obstinance. It’s bad!.

  4. PJ,

    You really should reconsider your tendency to insult those of us so called ” emoprogs ” who feel betrayed by Obama and the Dems for their failure to advocate strongly for a public option in the ACA. It was this betrayal that led directly to the Tea Party wave of 2010. The insults from Rahm Emanuels ” that’s fucking retarded ” to Robert Gibbs ” the professional left ” to Graeme Zielinski’s ” Ed Garvey is just like Charlie Sykes ” etc, only helps the Repubs by alienating a large group of voters whose only crime, in respect to the ACA anyway, was the expectation that Obama and Dem leaders would stand by their word and convictions. It’s no coincidence that the most commented upon post in an off year on Blogging Blue was about Russ Feingold’s open support for the public option. I led an effort up here that resulted in a resolution from Dem county chairs statewide calling on our Dem congressional delegation to publicly speak out for a public option, ( it was intended for Dave Obey in particular) which never happened beyond Feingold.

    The Yellow Dog Dems have to figure out how to accommodate people like me within the party, as opposed to insulting us, if we’re going to win going forward.

    1. I thank you, Steve, for your input. However, I won’t be cooling on the Emo phenomena anytime soon. Any more than you’d probably be willing to cool on referring to Republicans as “asshats” and “assclown caucus.”

      I don’t know what a Yellow Dog Dem is, but as far as accommodation goes – that door swings both ways, and therein lies the major stumbling block with intransigent Emos. Also to that point – as far as “if we’re going to win” – we may have to agree to disagree on what “winning” or “moving forward” means.

      And to insults – I didn’t insult. I directed attention to a phenomena that is particularly noxious to the prospect of “winning” and “moving forward” to use your words. As it happens quite a number of the discussions presented in opposition to the ACA on the Left (and on this very blog) are opinions with which I agree. I’d submit, then, the single-mindedness you express mightn’t be so conducive for gleaning the gist of things. You seem to have missed the point altogether. You might want to re-read. And do a little introspection yourself – the very single-mindedness that you express looks to me like the same single-mindedness that shut down the government.

      I will take to heart your suggestion, but whether or not Emos can accommodate or tolerate the Democratic Establishment or anything but instantaneous gratification of their political will is quite another concern. It is a major concern. Whether or not Emos can temper their disdain long enough to maintain critical perspective is another matter. And that is a major concern. But it is not my concern. I will call out irrationalism and political toxicity whether it be on the Left or Right.

          1. Great clip, JC. Unfortunately, undemonstrative of anything other than persecution complex endemic to Emo. Fancy yourself a Spartacus do you?

            Meanwhile, our republican democracy is closed. But you just keep on your Appian Way. Because obviously that is of the utmost importance.

            1. Merriam-Webster? Oh my. It evolved out of the national discourse, and I’d say Emo is still evolving, with “progressive” no longer an applicable suffix. How I would describe the Emo phenomenon at this point is that there appears to me to be more than one species – both conservative (small c) for a reluctance to remove from a position of linearity generally due to a conspicuous reliance upon emotive and undiscerning thought – reactionary rather than contemplative. Disdainful of logical methodology and philosophical inquiry, usually exhibiting anti-intellectualism preferring malapropism persuasion or misapplication. Remarkably un-self aware hence characteristically projective and parroting. Unwilling (or unable) to recognize or accept nuance or plurality resulting in the binary and unreflective. Hence antithetical to rational critique for its competition of opinion rather than exchange of ideas. That would be my general observation of the trend. You can choose to regard that description as pejorative if you like. Or you can choose to think on it.

              If you are in need of a simpler, quicker, boxy “answer” you might have tried the other more Puritopian definition at the Urban Dictionary. It is the one I would consider more accurate:

              Emo Progressive

              1. PJ,

                Who coined the term? Do you know? Where did you first read it? I think it might be worth a good discussion to ferret out the origin of the word.

        1. PJ,

          You write above that you didn’t insult but you know full well the word emoprog is intended to insult.

          Why do you insist on using words like that? The irony here is that it’s a term used almost exclusively, it seems, by people ” emoprogs ” call ” Obamabots “.

          Is this a tit for tat thing? How about we dispense with such words for awhile? Nonquixote, how about you let go of ” Obomba ” and ” Obomber ” and PJ you quit using of ” emoprog ” and we’ll all just focus on the state and federal members of The Ass Clown Caucus? 🙂

          1. My truth-in-labeling as applied to a particularly deserving single individual, the POTUS, has nothing to do with what appears to me to be someone’s overwhelming compulsion to derogatorily pigeon-hole an entirely fabricated and fantasized construct of a group of people in order to summarily dismiss their message by applying a label that went by the wayside years ago. Moving now to substitute Puritopian is more than just a bit of projection.

            But look at the bright side, I just about made it through a whole comment without saying Obombem or ObombaDon’tCare Act. ;^)

          2. Steve,

            I don’t know who coined the term and I can’t say where I first encountered it. My general take would be that it reflects a critique of white privilege within the Left. As I indicated, as far as I can glean it’s a fluid concept that has probably exceeded those parameters. Your previous definition is one far removed from anything I’ve ever encountered. As I indicated, I view Emo as evolutionary. Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow, for instance, have been regarded as EmoProgs as has FDL. I don’t attach a political lean to Emo, both sets of pundits have succumbed to it, though the latter far more frequently and consistently than the former.

            My concerns with the Emo trend shouldn’t come as any surprise, I’ve voiced them on numerous occasion in any sphere I find them – among those concerns – historical revisionism leading to a fundamentally un-empirical approach to the 21st century or rational governance itself.

            No, I don’t use the term in an insulting sort of way. I express disdain with it to be sure and I will never hide my disdain for Emo irrationalism any more than I will hide my disdain for Tea Party irrationalism or “Asshat” irrationalism. You can choose to regard Emo in any way you choose. I’ve given you my perspective on it. You can choose to regard me as an Emoprog or an Obamabot if you’d like. I’m not offended by either one. If you are concerned about civil discourse (and you should be) evolving terminology shouldn’t be so much the concern as method. I suspect the Emo phenomenon will not end with Obama’s second term.

            So, Steve. Do you have any remarks about the Shutdown and the media? Anything to say about any of the articles posted? Or should we pretend that no unnecessary diversionary course has occurred here?

    2. Steve,

      Lots of promises for you when they need your vote, for Obomba once, worked for Baldwin once (not seeing much there yet, publicly late to game on Syria), worked for Pocan even though not my district (waiting for some vociferousness that has not materialized), the new Democrats all seem to be too easily, “AlFrankensteined.”©

  5. PJ,

    This looks like a big welcome mat to the GOP-controlled House to shut down the government anytime they want.

    “Obama to sign military pay bill”

    “President Barack Obama plans to sign a last-minute bill authorizing paychecks for troops and some Defense Department workers and contractors if the government shuts down, the White House said Monday.
    The House-passed bill to ensure the military is paid was approved without dissent in the Senate on Monday — a rare bipartisan agreement as Congress stumbled toward midnight when the fiscal year ends and current appropriations expire…”

    Looks like a classic “divide and conquer,” strategy.

    If the military isn’t screaming about their paychecks, it’s one less constituency to defend Social Security. It paves the way for Obama to achieve his dream, cutting Social Security and veterans benefits by “chaining the CPI.”

  6. PJ,

    Since you’re so down on the Emo-Progs, aka hippies, aka liberals, aka progressives, have you reversed your position on repealing the Second Amendment?

    Your post is accurate w/r/t Republican Senators. This is hurting them. It’s not, however, hurting Republicans in the House. For almost all of them, (mostly because they’re gerrymandered into such wingnut districts), not opposing Obamacare guarantees a primary.

    Yes, Obamacare will survive, but the battle is a huge win for the GOP, which is precisely why I’m afraid Dems will cave on “chaining the CPI.”

    “The Big Budget Battle the GOP Has Already Won”

    Dems (and anyone who understands that capitalism runs on sales) need to attack the oligarchs who are behind this “drowning of government in the bathtub.”

    That starts with looking for the government welfare that the 1% soak up. They won’t stop funding “austerity,” unless and until they’re convinced it’s going to hit their pocketbook, share price. Then of those many, many areas, you try to find agreement with wingnuts, because you can’t get legislative traction without them. IMHO, there are three.

    1. Wall Street: JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citi, Bank of America…
    2. Ending foreign occupations (Military/National Security/Industrial Complex) Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Hewlett-Packard,….Big Data
    3. Marijuana : Big Pharma

    1. A financial transactions tax on Wall Street makes a lot of sense:

    “To commemorate the 2nd Anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, the Robin Hood tax coalition that consists of two hundred million supporters around the world including Occupy Wall Street, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, The Vatican, The AFL-CIO, Lawrence Summers, Nancy Pelosi, Nobel Prize Laureates Desmond Tutu, Al Gore, Joseph Stigliz and Paul Krugman will rally to support H.R. 1579, the Inclusive Prosperity Act, a financial transaction tax of 0.5% that will raise hundreds of billions of dollars a year that puts people before profit and helps stabilize the financial markets. Dozens of major economies have already implemented this tax. 11 countries including Germany and France will begin to implement the tax on January 1.”

    I don’t have a link, but afaik, the financial transactions tax raises MORE money than “chaining the CPI.”

    2. “Bring War Dollars Home by Closing Down Bases Closing U.S. military bases overseas is a key part of moving the money to meet human needs at home and abroad.”

    3. “California legalizes hemp with a catch”

    Legalizing marijuana puts a lot of pressure on Big Pharma’s net income. Pot’s almost as effective and a lot less expensive than a lot of the stuff they make for a variety of ailments.

    I first read the term “pity-liberalism” from David Dayen. The GOP has successfully branded Democrats as the party of those who can’t “make it on their own.” Dems are who you turn to for a “hand-out.”

    IMHO replacing welfare and most unemployment insurance with a FEDERAL job guarantee would go a long way towards re-branding the Democratic party as the party of “economic mobility,” and growth for the 99%.

    “A Plan for all the Detroit’s out there”‘

    “…So what should be done? Well, the three of us (and others) have long proposed a longer term solution to deal with all of the Detroits that are out there: The government could serve as the “employer of last resort” under a job guarantee program modeled on the WPA (the Works Progress Administration, in existence from 1935 to 1943 after being renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933-1942). The program would offer a job to any American who was ready and willing to work at the federal minimum wage, plus legislated benefits. No time limits. No means testing. No minimum education or skill requirements.

    The program would operate like a buffer stock, absorbing and releasing workers during the economy’s natural boom-and-bust cycles. In a boom, employers would recruit workers out of the program; in a slump the safety net would allow those who had lost their jobs to continue to work to preserve good habits, making them easier to re-employ when activity picked up. The program would also take those whose education, training or job experience was initially inadequate to obtain work outside the program, enhancing their employability through on-the-job training. Work records would be maintained for all program participants and would be available for potential employers. Unemployment offices could be converted to employment offices, to match workers with jobs in the program, and to help private and public employers recruit workers. …”

    I don’t think it will play as well with wingnuts, but I think Dems need to hold accountable everyone who is not “pro-choice.” Letting some wingnut claim they’re “fiscal responsible,” at the same time they vote against age-appropriate sex ed, contraception, and abortion rights is complete bs. Dems need to link family planning issues to fiscal responsibility.

    I’d like to see a (obviously phony) bill proposed that requires all Medicaid bills be paid for by “pro-life” donors.

    It concerns me that the GOP is shutting down government and Dems in super safe districts (Mark Pocan in Madison is one good example) aren’t making them pay a price by talking about raising taxes on the 1%.

    “How high should taxes on the wealthy get?”

    “Wealth Taxes a Future Battleground”

    The 1% are not job creators. Job creators are CONSUMERS with money to spend.

    If the GOP shuts down government why aren’t Dems talking about an idea you support, lifting Reagan’s cap on the payroll tax?

      1. PJ,

        Please be specific with your criticism.

        Rank the “irrationalism,” in both my comments. Start with what’s in your opinion most irrational.

    1. Good Morning JC, and, bbluers,

      PJ uses his favorite word, “emoprog,” which I don’t think he understands the intended meaning of and when he has no valid argument to a well thought out and easily followed piece like yours JC (attributes certainly not contained in this particular diary of PJ’s, he is capable of better cut and paste), you are deemed guilty of committing irrationalism.

      Easy-peasy JC, PJ has you and seven other authors debunked in just four words. (NOT)

      1. NQ,

        On the contrary, NQ. I’m well aware of Emoprog meaning and how the term evolved. I might suggest you do some research on what validity means so you are clear on its definition and its extended construction before you misapply the term as you do so often when you struggle to “prove” your “competence” and “saturated comprehension” – of rational critique of which you remain clearly ignorant. When you really don’t understand something you shouldn’t pretend that you do. I won’t validate ignorance and irrationalism.

        That being said, you and JC both put forth some good conclusions on Dustin’s ACA post – conclusions with which I agree wholeheartedly. Now you’ve been validated. Feel better?

        1. PJ applies the emoprog label correctly. I remember bloggers posting defense of that scumbag cowardly traitor Snowden here. As well as a lot of love for the even bigger asshole Greenwald.

          1. God bless you Mikey for being such a patriot.

            Some Americans object to their tax dollars being used to track them by their cell phones

            “NSA chief: Agency tried to track Americans via cellphones”


            But, you trust the government.

            “NSA employees used spy tools to track spouses, former lovers”

            Hey Mikey, seeing as you have such infinite trust in our government, are you down with Mr. PJ to repeal the Second Amendment?

            Also, can you help me out on why NSA has to “store” all the data they “buy” from Google and the rest of Big Data?

            Google and Big Data are already storing it. Why can’t they wait until the get a warrant and then look at the data the private sector has already stored?

            Also, why aren’t we seeing big busts of child trafficing rings? I want to read about parents reunited with their kids. If the NSA has all this data, why isn’t that happening?

            1. N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens


              Analysts were warned to follow existing “minimization rules,” which prohibit the N.S.A. from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a “U.S. person” — a citizen or legal resident — for actual eavesdropping.

              It shocks me that you’re shocked the government collects data and information. What are you new around here or something? 15 years old, what? I have concerns about unchecked data gathering as well. I’m not going to turn into a hyperventilating stooge over it. I was marching and protesting against the patriot act and Iraq while people were calling me a traitor. When it counted. So fuck you. And no I’m not against the second amendment but I know what it is. It was to ease the minds of the slave owning states to accept a more centralized government under the Constitution than the Articles of the Confederates. They wanted the ability to send armed militias cross states to gather runaway slaves.

              1. Mikey,

                There were a lot of Democrats up here marching against the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act ” when it counted ” but when Obama got elected they all went home, so fuck you too.

          2. Mikey,

            “The CIA is expanding a clandestine effort to train opposition fighters in Syria amid concern that moderate, U.S.-backed militias are rapidly losing ground in the country’s civil war, U.S. officials said.” is the first-sentence of this Washington Post piece, “CIA ramping up covert training program for moderate Syrian rebels”


            If it’s “covert,” and “clandestine,” what’s it doing in the newspaper?

            Should someone call the NSA and ask them to look into all the National Security leaks in this article?


            1. Why respond to your cherry picked bullshit. You already have your martyr costume already picked out. Poor you.

  7. Witty comeback PJ, (not) but what is your definition of emoprog? You have yet to say. Deflect the comments here with your usual personal defensiveness of claiming no one is possibly as bright as you, therefore not deserving of further discussion or examination.

    It does not necessarily take any superior comprehension from anyone, to determine lies by politicians or calling BS on your debate tactics. Your implications that some sort of superior intellect is needed for rational critique, which you repeatedly imply here, that apparently only you possess, is clearly plain arrogance and elitism. I’ve been labeled an emoprog by you, several times, I have not used the term to describe anyone in any of my comments, here or elsewhere.

    Political absolutisms and gratuitous psychoanalysis while we wait to be validated, oh we are ever so indebted to you PJ. If for one moment you think that anyone comes here for your validation (which you have just implied), you might want to attempt to pull your head out of your ass and have a look around. Your very own personal definition on tunnel vision. Peculiarly rarefied atmosphere in there, also.

  8. “Boehner to GOP: Grand Bargain in the Works”

    “…Per sources, entitlement reforms, such as chained CPI, an elimination of the medical-device tax, and delays to parts of Obamacare are all on the table as trades for delaying aspects of sequestration and extending the debt limit. Camp, especially, is pushing to have a tax-reform framework included…”


  9. PJ, what’s up with this?

    Darn pot-smoking, hippie, emoprogs at Firedoglake are praising the President.

    “Obama Seems to Realize if He Fails Now He Could Become the Worst President Ever”

    “I’m happy that President Obama’s and Congressional Democrats leaders’ reaction to John Boehner’s offer to seek a grand bargain to get out of this current crisis was to basically laugh in his face. Obama has been very public about saying he will not negotiate over the debt ceiling, but this flat out refusal to entertain this chance to get his grand bargain finally shows he means it.
    It seems Obama really understands that if he does not handle this situation he truly risks becoming the worst president ever. This is not hyperbole, this is really what is at stake at the moment.

    Probably the stupidest decision Obama every made was try to use the debt ceiling to force all sides to adopt his grand bargain. He both failed and did serious damage to the economy. Far more importantly, he undermined the entire office of the President.

    Establishing the precedent that Congress could force the President to do anything they want by threatening to default would strip the office of its veto power. If the President ever vetoed anything, Congress would just need to wait to attach it to the next debt ceiling vote to get it. The executive branch would become a shadow of its former self. Obama needs to stop it now or risk it becoming a serious long-term problem. ….

  10. Someone posting a link to FDL, the biggest firebagger in the business, is hilarious. Who’s next Lyndon LaRouche? LOL

    1. Have never heard a definition of a “firebagger,” Mikey. Inquiring minds want to know. Just who is FDL?

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