"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.
ABC's Jack Smith unloaded this dire warning at the end of 1995: "Monuments and national parks are shut. So are museums. A long-awaited rare exhibit of the Dutch painter Vermeer at the National Gallery, eight years in the making, is closed. And the shutdown now has a human face. Joe Skattleberry and his wife Lisa both work for the government. Both have been furloughed. They can't afford a Christmas tree."
Please suspend all reason and try to avoid wondering how two federal workers couldn't spare $50 for a Christmas tree. Smith reported this a week into the shutdown and before paychecks were even delayed.
On Jan. 2, 1996, future "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley compared budget negotiators to bombers: "In April, terrorists tried to kill them. Today, politicians stopped their paychecks. In Oklahoma City's Social Security office, they're being ordered to work for nothing. ... The bomb broke Beverly Rankin's ankle. Politics is breaking her bank."
They called this a "newscast." It sounded more like CBS started a super PAC to run negative ads against Newt Gingrich. They wonder why a strong majority now tells pollsters that the media is guilty of favoring one side. The favoritism isn't just obvious it's completely shameless.
We've lived through four years of Obama, and as the federal government overspent us into trillion-dollar deficits every year, no reporter hit a panic button. The Federal Reserve is printing money like it's making Monopoly games, and no journalist is reporting with their hair on fire. The tax burden on most Americans went up this year, and no one took a camera and a microphone to interview someone who'll get by on a few less thousand dollars this year.
Our journalists talk like they're not only willing marionettes for the Obama panic message but like they're addicts for ever-growing government. Every potential spending limitation is portrayed as a dire and cruel assault on the suffering. In the statist mindset of the media elites, an American can never suffer from more government, only from less.
Americans won't feel these GOP-made disasters because they won't happen. They will, however, remember the hype. Perhaps the press will understand why only 6 percent of the public finds them "very trustworthy."