Dire Consequences of Shutdown: ABC Invokes Washington Monument, Liberty Bell and Kids with Cancer, But Cheetahs Will Be Fed

It used to be a cliche that a threatened federal shutdown would send liberals and journalists scurrying to show people harmed by highlighting a closed Washington Monument and disappointed tourists – a cliche ABC’s Jake Tapper turned into a reality Wednesday night. He, however, shamelessly went even further, invoking not only how “landmarks will close” – citing the Washington Monument, the Liberty Bell and the National Zoo – but also “medical research and hope for desperate patients,” including “children with cancer.”

After illustrating the implication of closed landmarks with video of upset 6th graders from rural Massachusetts, one of whom proclaimed “the government is mean,” Tapper wasn’t done with his parade of victims supposedly to be hurt by a shutdown, which hasn’t yet happened and could last just a matter of days, as he found a 4-year-old refugee from Ethiopia to exploit. Really. Warning that “for those who sent in their taxes by mail, tax refunds may not arrive,” Tapper relayed:

In Louisville Kentucky, J.T. Henderson and his wife had to file their taxes by mail so they could receive the adoption refund after 4-year-old Teddy, from Ethiopia, joined their family last summer.

He ended, though, with some good news. The animals at the Smithsonian’s zoo will not starve: “Here at the National Zoo, the cheetahs and other animals will be fed even if the zoo is shut down.”

But the kids with cancer won’t be so lucky.

CBS and NBC offered much-milder versions of the dire consequences. On the NBC Nightly News, for instance, John Yang asserted:

According to administration officials, home buyers wouldn't be able to get federal home loan guarantees, potentially threatening an already fragile housing market. Clinics at the National Institutes of Health would stop taking new patients and starting new clinical trials. Applications for new and renewed passports and visas would halt. And national parks, museums and monuments, including the National Zoo in Washington, would close to visitors.

From the Wednesday, April 6 ABC’s World News:

DIANE SAWYER: And from the family budget to the nation's budget, and that duel between Republicans and Democrats that threatens to shut the U.S. government Friday night at midnight. The argument is over how much spending to cut right now. And here's Jake Tapper.

JAKE TAPPER: At Camp Pendleton, California, Marine Michael Goodwin is about to ship overseas. He and his wife Denise live paycheck to paycheck, but a government shutdown would mean those military paychecks checks will stop.

MICHAEL GOODMAN: There won't be enough for food.

DENISE GOODMAN: Or for rent.

MICHAEL GOODMAN: Or rent or the car insurance.

TAPPER: The shutdown will stop new funding for medical research and hope for desperate patients. Doctor Robert Comis, an oncologist in Philadelphia, may have to cancel his federally-funded clinical trial for a promising new cancer drug.

DR ROBERT COMIS, EASTERN COOPERATIVE ONCOLOGY GROUP: Every minute we wait, risks the opportunity for patients and if this new treatment is better, it risks their survival.

TAPPER: Doctors at the National Institutes of Health would be forced to stop seven new clinical trials, four involving children, next week. And stop admitting new patients at 640 ongoing trials, 60 of them involving children with cancer. As happened during the shutdown of 1995-96, national landmarks will close. The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the Washington Monument, the National Gallery of Art, the National Zoo, as well as federal office buildings and passport offices. For 20 years, sixth graders at Colrain Central in Western Massachusetts have traveled to Washington DC to see those landmarks.



GIRL: The government is mean.

BOY: It's not really fair they get to choose how and when stuff doesn't open and stuff.

TAPPER: For those who sent in their taxes by mail, tax refunds may not arrive.

JT HENDERSON, TAXPAYER: I'm worried how this government shutdown will effect our refund. You know, we are -- we live check to check.

TAPPER: In Louisville Kentucky, J.T. Henderson and his wife had to file their taxes by mail so they could receive the adoption refund after 4-year-old Teddy, from Ethiopia, joined their family last summer. With her student loans and the adoption costs, they've been scraping by.

JT HENDERSON: If I could speak directly to the President or the congressional leadership, I would just tell them that they're grandstanding has effects as it trickles down to normal, every day Americans.

TAPPER: And Diane, here at the National Zoo, the cheetahs and other animals will be fed even if the zoo is shut down. And even if those troops are not going to be paid, have no fear, President Obama and congressional leaders will continue to be paid on time. Diane?

— Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center