Huffpost Media
Jason Linkins Headshot

How Will The Beltway Media Cope With A Government Shutdown?

Posted: Updated:
Print

It's looking more and more as if we're heading for a complete shutdown of the federal government tonight, because of $5 billion in spending and the way some lawmakers don't like women to have access to affordable pap smears and whatnot. If it comes to that, the shutdown will go into effect at midnight tonight and the city will ride an emotional high and their well-worn sense of cynical wryness through the weekend. And there will likely be lots of debauchery!

But there has to be a morning after. And when it comes, your heroic Beltway media will have to transition from the state of uncertainty about a pending government shutdown to the state of uncertainty about an actual and ongoing government shutdown. As our own Sam Stein recently quipped, "[I]f this week has taught me anything, it's how to write a news story about a lack of news." Pro tip: Don't do what the media did last August and elevate a Quran burning preacher to celebrity status because you are bored. Instead, fall back on some predictable tropes, which we shall render in headline/sub-hed form for your benefit.

TROPE: The Old Horserace!

Day X Of The Government Shutdown Polls: Who Is Winning?
Wow! But what about now? Who's winning now? Okay, wait just a minute. Okay, now who's winning?

Ideological Opponents Appear On Panel, Yell At One Another
In a surprising development, each side thinks the other side is wrong! We're glad we broadcast/published this!

Shutdown Friction As Key Dem Breaks With White House
Joe Manchin unlocks the "Joe Lieberman" badge on FourSquare.

TROPE: The Human Impact Story

Washington DC Weathers Shutdown Amid Park Closures, Conference Cancellations
"It's hard enough to get people to visit this craphole," said local hoteliers.

Forgotten Federal Employee Stares Ruefully Into The Middle Distance
It was passion that brought Hank Stiller to the NIST's Weights And Measures Division. Now, the only thing he has to measure is the length of his empty days.

Government Shutdown Has A Disproportionate Effect On America's Working Poor
"Funny story, actually," said America's working poor, "But the decisions that get made while the government is in session have a disproportionate effect on us, too -- Hey! Where are you going? Why are you walking away?"

TROPE: The Historical Perspective

Thing In 2011 Looks Like Other Thing From 1995
But are they actually different? The debate rages.

Newt Gingrich: The Zelig Of Federal Government Shutdowns?
"At this point, Gingrich walks through my erotic dreams like he was Alfred Hitchcock, or something," complained historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Bearded Congressional Staffers Liken Their Experience To WGA Strike
"Except that we're not particularly creative or likeable," said staffers.

TROPE: Meta-Media Stories

Beltway Reporters Scramble After Discovering That They Have Nobody's Personal Phone Number
"Could you please DM me on Twitter, Becca Glover Watkins?" begged a disheveled Jim VandeHei.

HuffPost Hill Struggles To Pad Out Daily Email Newsletter
40% of content now just Eliot Nelson shouting "SWAG! SWAG!" over and over again.

Anonymous Sources Stay In Practice By Speaking Aloud To Analog Tape Recorders
"The only material difference is that the White House Press Corps are less portable," said anonymous sources.

TROPE: And if this shutdown goes on long enough, who knows?

House Speaker Records Album Of Eliot Smith Covers
"I'm just so sad, all the time," says John Boehner. Pitchfork: 6.4

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to tv@huffingtonpost.com -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]