"Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American. Jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free," warned ABC morning anchor Josh Elliott. On screen were the words "BUDGET ARMAGEDDON."
The only people being released from jails were about 2,000 illegal immigrants who were facing deportation. The Department of Homeland Security released them, citing "looming budget cuts." That's just more gamesmanship. Put another quarter in the panic jukebox.
"Like the asteroid headed to earth, they're coming! Eighty-six billion in automatic budget cuts. And don't bother trying to duck," hyped CNN anchor Carol Costello. "So we let these draconian budget cuts take place. You know who's going to suffer the most? It's not going to be Congress. It's not going to be the president. It's going to be us."
"Kids without vaccines, schools without teachers and massive airport delays -- we'll show you the worst-case scenario for government spending cuts," CBS morning host Charlie Rose read off the Panic Prompter.
It sounded a little like Bill Murray in "Ghostbusters" when he was whimsically warning: "Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together ... mass hysteria!"
Media Research Center analysts reviewed all of the 88 sequestration stories on ABC, CBS and NBC from Feb. 14 through March 1 when the "cuts" took effect and found 58 (66 percent) were dominated by panic nonsense, without a second of rebuttal of common sense. Another 10 stories offered the same hyperbole but at least included a few seconds of the skeptical view that the sequestration reductions weren't huge and their effects were being overhyped.
But for people who read newspapers, there was another worst-case scenario coming.
"The good news is the world doesn't end March 2. The bad news is, the world doesn't end March 2," liberal lobbyist Emily Holubowich told the Washington Post. "The worst-case scenario for us is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens. And Republicans say: 'See, that wasn't so bad.'"
There is no daylight between the views of liberal lobbyists and the national news media.
This was the same game Bill Clinton played against the conservatives in Congress in the mid-1990s. The liberals are always presumed to have the upper hand in the blame game because the liberals have a very large Blame Machine known as the media.
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