The Enquirer has written a near-masterpiece1 of “unbiased journalism that only quotes Republicans”. Deirdre Shesgreen’s message: the shutdown is awesome and popular, and it’s impossible to say how it happened.

And I’m not joking; it sources 3 GOP congressmen, Sen. Portman, and a Tea Party voter.

Says Rep. Wenstrup, “Predominantly, they like what we’re doing.”

Rep. Chabot’s spokesman claims that calls are 60-40 in favor of keeping the government shut down. Obviously he’s telling the truth; he used numbers!

Sen. Portman–who filibustered the deal to keep the government open–is a moderate. He thinks we should let Obamacare move forward, and instead keep the government shut down until we get a Grand Bargain.

So, Portman only wants 9 months of shutdown. Keep in mind that Portman was himself unable to reach any form of Grand Bargain as a member of the Supercommittee.

Says the Tea Party voter: government is bad, therefore shutting down the government is good.

Based on coverage from the AP, USA Today, the Enquirer, and NPR, I think the trouble is that everybody knows the shutdown is politically disastrous for Republicans; in a zero-sum political universe2, that means it’s good for Democrats.

Reporting on the horserace is what gets people gigs at better-paying papers. To show off their insider knowledge, every reporter is describing the politics of the shutdown as being great for Democrats without ever saying how the shutdown happened. In order to achieve balance, they need to include a contrarian quote about how the Tea Party loves the shutdown.

The problem with this meta-journalism is that it reinforces the Republican belief that the shutdown is broadly popular. The House GOP says “we have approving quotes in Fox News, the Enquirer, USA Today, Washington Post, and Washington Times!” It doesn’t matter that it’s all the same quote.

I don’t see any ending to the shutdown aside from passing a short-term CR and agreeing to (fruitlessly) negotiate a long-term budget. Since the Senate has already passed a bill that does that, the end-game is that Speaker Boehner holds a vote on that bill.

If Boehner thinks the shutdown improves his standing on the right more than it damages his standing in the center, he will resist that vote.

The longer our “unbiased” reporters report from the Right Wing Echo Chamber, the longer the shutdown will persist. Thanks, Enquirer.


1 The only way to improve this article is to quote a 2010 Tea Party freshman about how the Democrats did this same thing in the 80s, therefore the current shutdown is their fault. Then get a reaction from a Democratic voter who is under 30 years old.

You have to be sure to never talk to anybody who was in Congress in the 80s. “Why, there’s no telling what Ronald Reagan would do. That was hundreds of years ago!”

2 The fact that political journalists really, really want us to live in a zero-sum universe is the only thing that rivals the Tea Party in endangering long-term American prosperity.