The Media's Deadly Sin

Sixteen years ago, the  Republican House of Representatives, led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, passed a federal budget containing spending cuts and slowing of growth in some programs.  President Bill Clinton vetoed it.  This caused the federal government to shut down for several days until the Congress blinked and passed another budget more to the president's liking.

The mainstream media, which at the time consisted of the broadcast news networks, newspapers, and CNN, reported nonstop on the brief stoppage of nonessential federal services.  They described the temporary closing of national museums in tones that rivaled the death scene from Camille for over-the-top heart wrenching hysteria.

Last year I was listening to the radio and heard that our area had experienced an earthquake during the night.  I took the reporter's word that it happened; it had been so mild that I slept right through it.  In December 1995, if one weren't visiting a national park or applying for a passport, the government shutdown had the same impact as that earthquake.  In other words, if it hadn't been for the media caterwauling, the majority of us wouldn't have even known the shutdown had happened.

That didn't stop reporters from using the brief interruption in sleigh rides in Yellowstone Park as an opportunity to caricature Newt as the "Gingrich Who Stole Medicare" and "a car bomber who wants to blow the country up."  For sixteen long years we've heard ad nauseam that the government shutdown of 1995 was so horrendous that it cinched Bill Clinton's reelection.

Whether or not that's true is debatable; the point is that the mainstream media believes those few days in December 1995 (and their coverage) changed the course of American history.  And now, all over the airwaves, blogosphere and newsrooms liberal journalists are practically salivating in anticipation of another government shutdown next week.  Once again a Republican House of Representatives has passed legislation containing federal spending cuts.  Once again a Democrat president is threatening a veto.

But that's where the similarities end.  Everyone with an ounce of common sense knows 2011 is not 1995.  First of all, our president, the cool Barack Obama, is no Bill Clinton.  Unlike Clinton, Obama simply does not do empathy.  That was made crystal-clear when, days into his presidency, Obama couldn't be bothered to even send a card to the people of Kentucky who suffered massive destruction and even deaths from historic ice storms.

The second reason this is not 1995 is we've run out of money.  I concede that we didn't have any money in 1995, either, but sixteen years ago, we still had some room left on the credit card.  Now we can't even borrow enough, and the American people (minus the liberal media and the unions) have figured it out.  Weeping correspondents standing in front of a closed Statue of Liberty are going to elicit mere yawns from today's audience.

So how to explain the eagerness of the media for a replay of the 1995 government shutdown?  As a nurse, I've learned that people's behavior tells us a lot about their underlying condition.  My diagnosis of the media:

The average liberal "journalist" today is a rigid ideologue who is unbelievably lazy.

The older I get, the more I understand why sloth, or laziness, is featured among the seven deadly sins.  Many of you who are my age (born 1957) grew up in circumstances similar to mine.  My parents were first-generation Americans who worked extremely hard to give their children access to all the opportunities America could offer.  Laziness, both physical and mental, was simply not tolerated.

A mentally lazy person has no use for curiosity, because satisfying curiosity requires the expenditure of effort.  The contrast of today's newsroom with that of yesteryear illustrates this perfectly.

I love classic movies.  Some of my favorites feature hard-bitten crime reporters, played perhaps by Humphrey Bogart or Edward G. Robinson.  The reporter of decades ago was the polar opposite of laziness.  He was chasing down leads, then racing back to the paper, where he'd literally pound out the story on his manual typewriter before yelling for a copyboy, who'd run it to the presses.

Here's how that scene might run with today's lazy liberal reporter.  After stopping at Starbucks for his double-shot espresso (last night's political fundraiser went 'til all hours), he checks his Blackberry for today's e-mail from his sources at the White House/Democrat National Committee.  Yawning while reading over today's talking points, he either:

a. Re-words a couple of phrases and forwards it to his editor as his story for today, or

b. Memorizes the correct pronunciation of the word for today (e.g. "gravitas") and trudges over to make-up before this morning's stand-up in front of the White House.

There's no research involved, no curiosity.  Today's reporter doesn't even have to generate an idea.  Today's reporter is simply a conduit for the Democrats.  Back in 1995, the reporter had to at least get off his chair and walk over to the fax machine.  Today, getting the "story" is as easy as checking a Smartphone.

So the government shutdown of 2011 is a perfect story for today's lazy liberal journalist.  First of all, it fits the template of his ideology: A Democrat president is saving America from the cruel spending cuts of a Republican Congress.  But the best part?

The story's already been written!  Aside from changing a few names (a snap with today's word processing software), there's no work required.  Who could ask for anything more?

Carol Peracchio is a registered nurse.