Government Shutdown Spurs Bizarro News Years Eve-Style Coverage on Cable News

By Alex Weprin 

At midnight, the federal government effectively shut down, with only critical personnel continuing to work.

Among the broadcast networks, only NBC News offered a special report, anchored by Brian Williams. ABC News covered at 12:37 on “Nightline.”

On cable news, coverage of the shutdown was like a bizarro New Year’s Eve, with a countdown clock slowly ticking away to midnight, only with furloughs and closures at the end, instead of revelry, fireworks and ball drops.

“You’re looking live at the Capitol. The government and the United States of America has shut down,” Piers Morgan said on CNN, as the countdown clock onscreen reversed and began counting the minutes since the shutdown. “It hasn’t happened for 17 years, but now it has. We’ll see effects of it almost immediately, the Washington Monument, the heart of the capital, the Statue of Liberty, to billions around the world the epitome of freedom and democracy, shut down.”

“It’s midnight here in the nation’s capital. The old fiscal year has ended and a new one has begun without funding for much of the government,” Bret Baier said on Fox News, with the graphic calling the event a “partial shutdown”. “The Office of Management and Budget directed agencies to execute their shut down procedures and orderly shut down. The game of political chicken between House Republicans on one side and Democrats on another and the President has gone into overtime.”

“It is now exactly midnight here on the East Coast. For the first time in 17 years, the American federal government is as of right now in the process of shutting down,” Rachel Maddow said on MSNBC. “We are coming to you live from Washington, DC this hour where House Republicans have essentially just thrown in the towel and forced the federal government to shut down. What was expected to be a drama-filled night with negotiations going up until the last moment, did not exactly turn out that way.”