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Nets Blamed Shutdown On GOP 62 Times, Dems 0

From the Media Research Center:

MRC Study: How the Broadcast Networks Spun the Shutdown Obama’s Way

ABC, CBS and NBC Touted Victims of Government Closure and Invariably Blamed Republicans

By Rich Noyes | October 17, 2013

For millions of Americans, big political contests such as presidential elections and pivotal congressional hearings are still largely witnessed through the lens of ABC’s, CBS’s and NBC’s evening newscasts. According to Nielsen Research, more than 20 million viewers tuned in over the past two weeks for the Big Three’s take on the shutdown drama.

What those viewers heard, according to a just-completed Media Research Center study, was a version of the shutdown story that could easily have emanated from Barack Obama’s own White House. The broadcast networks invariably blamed Republicans for the impasse; spotlighted dozens of examples of how Americans were being victimized; and ran scores of soundbites from furloughed federal workers and others harmed by the shutdown — even as they ignored examples of how the Obama administration and Senate Democrats were working to make the shutdown as painful as possible.

Blaming Republicans. MRC analysts reviewed each broadcast network evening newscast from the first day of the shutdown (October 1) through the last night before a deal was announced (October 15). Of the 124 full stories and brief items about the shutdown or the pending debt ceiling deadline, 41 blamed Republicans or conservatives for the impasse, 17 blamed both sides, and none specifically blamed Democrats.

This is an acceleration of the same trend the MRC documented during the two weeks prior to the actual start of the shutdown (September 17 through September 30), when those same broadcasts ran 21 stories blaming Republicans, four blaming both sides, and none blaming Democrats.

Network reporters and anchors repeatedly instructed their audiences to blame Tea Party extremism for the consequences of the shutdown. “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,” NBC anchor Brian Williams asserted on the October 14 Nightly News.

The next night, ABC’s Diane Sawyer similarly explained Fitch’s warning of a possible downgrade of the U.S. government’s AAA debt rating: “A major agency now threatening a downgrade, lowering America’s sterling financial status in the world, and all because hardline members of Congress have brought the U.S. to the brink.”

Soundbites. In 15 days, the networks ran soundbites from 23 federal workers (most of them furloughed), 47 individuals whose lives had been hurt by the shutdown, and 56 ordinary citizens condemning the shutdown. While most of the negative opinion was directed at Washington in general, 17 singled out Republicans for blame, vs. only three castigating Democrats, a nearly six-to-one ratio.

On October 1, for example, ABC’s World News used a man on the street to spank conservatives: “I think the whole ‘holding the government hostage of ObamaCare’ is just ridiculous.” The next night, the same network featured a woman scolding: “It’s a crime and most of it is the Tea Party.”

Within hours of the start of the shutdown, the networks championed the plight of furloughed federal workers, who at that point had been out of work for only a few hours. On the October 1 CBS Evening News, furloughed Treasury worker Peter Gamba complained: “It’s a nightmare for me financially. Actually, it causes me a lot of anxiety and stress. I don’t sleep well at night.”

Over on the NBC Nightly News that same evening, reporter John Yang highlighted an EPA worker, Elizabeth Lytle, who had already filed for unemployment benefits. Lytle told NBC: “Right now, I’m terrified. I’m terrified to the point where, okay, what’s going to happen?”

Three days later, when the shutdown was less than a week old, NBC correspondent Miguel Almaguer profiled another out-of-work federal employee: “Wendy Robinson has been furloughed. A single mom with three mouths to feed, today she got her last paycheck. Robinson blames Congress.” Moments later, NBC viewers heard Robinson complaining: “I’m at a loss for words, really, about it because I’m not used to not giving my kids a Christmas.”

Four days out of work, and Christmas is cancelled?

Negative Consequences. During the first 15 days of October, the network evening newscasts highlighted 127 examples of ways the shutdown was hurting Americans — from closed national parks and furloughed workers, to children denied medical treatment for life-threatening illnesses and the suspension of death benefits for the families of U.S. soldiers and Marines killed in Afghanistan.

The drumbeat of negative stories cast the shutdown (and, by implication, those responsible) as downright scandalous. NBC’s Brian Williams described the consequences as nearly criminal on the October 8 Nightly News: “All kinds of people are getting cheated out of salaries, benefits, medical treatment.”

Virtually absent from the coverage was any questioning of the Obama administration’s tactics in implementing the shutdown. Eight stories talked about the barricading of the open-air World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., a site that is normally accessible 24 hours a day. None of the networks questioned why that particular memorial needed to be barricaded…

Nor was there any mention that these sites had never been shutdown in any of the previous 17 government shutdowns.

And people wonder why the polls are the way they are? In reality, the mainstream media just do polls to see what kind of a job they are doing in shaping the public’s opinion.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Friday, October 18th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

One Response to “Nets Blamed Shutdown On GOP 62 Times, Dems 0”

  1. BannedbytheTaliban

    To be fair, the Republicans lost the shut down battle. They gained nothing they did not have on Oct 1. So the government shut down for 16 days and they walked away with nothing. That makes them cause. However, the sky did not fall, children and old people were not dying in the streets, air planes did not fall from the sky, the Stay-Puffed marshmallow man did not attack NYC, so there really was nothing bad caused by the government shutdown that Obama did not decree happen.


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