Weekend Today Shows Skewer Republicans For Government Shutdown

This weekend’s editions of NBC’s Today show did their best to drive home the message that Republicans would be to blame for the government shutdown that went into effect last night. On Saturday’s Today, CNBC’s John Harwood showed up to analyze the situation. The chief Washington correspondent did not mince words as he told anchor Erica Hill who would be responsible for the oncoming shutdown:

There is no doubt that if we have a shutdown, Republicans are going to get blamed for it for the simple fact that the whole country will see that this is a shutdown brought on by the Republican Party. Democrats are not making any demands, Erica. The only people making demands here are Republicans.” So I guess requiring every American to purchase health insurance or pay a fine doesn’t count as a demand?


Spin from liberal media outlets like NBC has no doubt played a role in convincing many people to blame Republicans for the shutdown.

Harwood then tried to dismiss Republicans as worthy of a certain late-night NBC comedy show: “[I]f you look at the things [Republicans] are discussing, asking in return for raising the debt limit, which is a much more important issue than the government shutdown, it is so far beyond the – what we have become accustomed to in normal democratic governance. It's more like a Saturday Night Live skit.”

On Sunday’s Today show the following morning, correspondent Kristen Welker tried to milk sympathy for potential victims of a government shutdown.  She reported solemnly that the Everglades National Park in Florida would have to close if the government shut down. The she cut to footage of a park spokeswoman saying, “We have a lot of dedicated National Park Service employees that are concerned about being on an extended furlough.”

Welker seemed to suggest that this was the Republicans’ fault: “And a shutdown seems more likely by the minute after the Republican-led House passed a bill overnight that would delay Obamacare by a year.”

Then Welker went right for America’s heartstrings. As footage of a panda munching on bamboo rolled on the screen, Welker announced, “You can forget that trip to a popular tourist site because all national parks and museums, even the National Zoo, would close.” That’s right, folks. No more adorable pandas in D.C. until the Republicans allow ObamaCare to be implemented.

Below are transcripts of the segments:

NBC Today
09/28/13
7:04

ERICA HILL: John Harwood is CNBC’s chief Washington correspondent. John, good morning. As we just heard, an aide telling Luke this morning they are preparing for the worst. In a couple of hours, Speaker Boehner’s going to meet with a number of Republicans. It does seem at this point, though, as we are hearing from folks like Rep. Peter King, also Sen. Tom Coburn, it’s not clear whether or not the entire party has the stomach for this. Do they?

JOHN HARWOOD: The entire party definitely does not have the stomach for it, Erica. Look, we have seen all week a battle within the Republican Party. This is not a fight right now between Democrats and Republicans. This is a fight within the Republican Party that they are trying to resolve. The speaker is trying to head off these members of his caucus who are pushing toward the shutdown that would occur if we don't get a deal on Monday night.

HILL: And do they have, I mean, do they have that caucus? I bring up again Senator Tom Coburn because of course he was also in the House in the ‘90s when there was a government shutdown looming again. He said, this is a quote here, “You do not take a hostage you are not going to for sure shoot. We will not for sure shoot this hostage.” So in turn, could Republicans be shooting themselves in the foot?

HARWOOD: There’s no question about it. The entire Republican leadership knows that. They have been trying to head off this strategy for weeks and have been unsuccessful because of the zeal of this very small group of people within the Republican caucus. There is no doubt that if we have a shutdown, Republicans are going to get blamed for it for the simple fact that the whole country will see that this is a shutdown brought on by the Republican Party. Democrats are not making any demands, Erica. The only people making demands here are Republicans who are talking about not only shutting down Obamacare, but if you look at the things they are discussing, asking in return for raising the debt limit, which is a much more important issue than the government shutdown, it is so far beyond the – what we have become accustomed to in normal democratic governance. It's more like a Saturday Night Live skit. Matter of fact, I bet a lot of money it will be a Saturday Night Live skit tonight.

HILL: You know, that’s a fine promo for the premiere tonight, John, thank you. John Harwood in Washington, not the last time we’ll be talking to you about it. Appreciate your insight.



***
NBC Today
09/29/13
8:02

LESTER HOLT: Want to get to today's top story, the potential government shutdown that is now just two days away. A rowdy debate on a bill to fund the government stretched into the wee hours this morning. It ended with passage of a bill that would delay Obamacare's implementation for a year. Democrats say that's just not acceptable. Kristen Welker is live at the White House. Kristen, good morning. Where is all this going?

KRISTEN WELKER: Lester, good morning to you. It seems like the only thing Democrats and Republicans can agree on today is that a government shutdown seems increasingly likely after the House of Representatives passed that piece of legislation overnight, mostly along party lines. It is a bill that the White House has threatened to veto. Meanwhile, across the country there is anger and frustration. [ begin voicecover] It was fireworks on the House floor Saturday night.

WOMAN: Mr. Speaker, the House is not in order.

WELKER: And as the debate rages in Washington, a thousand miles away they’re watching it all closely at the Everglades National Park in Florida. If the government shuts down, the park would close, more than 250 employees likely furloughed.

LINDA FRIAR, Everglades National Park: We have a lot of dedicated National Park Service employees that are concerned about being on an extended furlough.

WELKER: And a shutdown seems more likely by the minute after the Republican-led House passed a bill overnight that would delay Obamacare by a year.

REP. SHEILA JACKSON: Tonight the Republican majority will vote to shut the government down!

REP. JOHN CULBERSON: All Republicans are asking tonight is give the nation a year to study a 2500-page bill that even Speaker Pelosi hadn't a clue what was in it.

WELKER: The White House quickly fired back, releasing a statement saying, “Any member of the Republican Party who votes for this bill is voting for a shutdown.” So how would a shutdown impact you? You can forget that trip to a popular tourist site because all national parks and museums, even the National Zoo, would close. Thinking about getting out of the country? Your passport better be up to date, because those applications will stall. And hundreds of thousands of federal workers would likely be furloughed. But if you want to mail a letter, you're in luck. The post office will remain open. And don't worry, that check will still be in the mail -- the Social Security check, that is. Across the country, mounting concern.

FRIAR: We're really hoping that it can come to a conclusion and keep us working and keep these great places open to the American public.

WELKER: So that bill now goes to the Senate, which is not back in session until Monday. Majority leader Harry Reid has already said he will reject it outright which means that lawmakers will have less than 24 hours to try to sort this whole thing out and try to avert a government shutdown.

HOLT: All right, Kristen Welker this morning. Kristen, thanks.

Paul Bremmer
Paul Bremmer is a Media Research Center News Analysis Division intern.