Media Buzz

Shutdown Silliness: Budget brawl descends into child’s play

Charles Krauthammer Discusses The Continuing Resolution


I would not like a shutdown here or there.

I would not like it anywhere.

I feel we’re all being put in a box.

It’s not getting traction even on Fox.

Okay, so maybe I’m getting carried away by Ted Cruz reading from the Dr. Seuss classic during his 21-hour Senate talk-a-thon. But things have gotten so nonsensical in Washington that adopting the world view of “Green Eggs and Ham” makes as much sense as anything else.

In the book, as Slate reports, “The narrator keeps insisting that he hates green eggs and ham, but he's never had green eggs and ham. When he finally tries them—he likes them!”

“The Democrats' bet on the Affordable Care Act is that it's like green eggs and ham—they're convinced the public will like it when they try it,” the story continues.

Well, maybe. But the whole spectacle is giving me indigestion.

And it has spawned some pundit pugilism on the right, as commentators nominally on the same ideological team are really going at each other.

On MSNBC, Joe Scarborough mixed it up with one of his network’s contributors, former GOP chairman Michael Steele.

“Do these people think that Tom Coburn is a RINO?” Scarborough, a former Republican congressman, asked. “Do they think George Will is a RINO? Do they think Ron Johnson is a RINO? Do they think Scott Walker, who disagrees with this strategy, is a RINO?”

At another point Scarborough told Steele, “Don’t lecture me. I’ve been talking about this for 12 years.”

There was also a dustup when conservative radio host Mark Levin ripped Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer and columnist George Will for having “surrendered” and “taken out the long knives and tried to destroy the handful of conservatives we have in Washington, D.C.”

On Fox’s “Special Report,” Krauthammer called the criticism “kind of amusing.” Responding to Levin’s withering accusation that he’d worked for Walter Mondale in the 1980s, Krauthammer said, "I will remind you that the sainted Ronald Reagan started out as a very strong supporter of FDR.”

As for him, said Krauthammer, he was “young.”

Beyond the sniping, where are we in this latest Washington mess?

An endless argument over a health care law that passed three years ago has brought us to the brink of another government shutdown. A Republican senator who wants to defund ObamaCare angered many members of his own party by launching a crusade they don’t think is winnable, then voting for the bill he sort-of-filibustered.

And as the media breathlessly report on whether we’re heading over another fiscal cliff, another artificial crisis creating by warring Beltway factions, there are signs of a last-minute compromise.

Namely, the GOP would agree to a short-term funding extension and make the next showdown over the debt ceiling in mid-October. So instead of the stakes involving a short-term closure of the federal bureaucracy that would be both inconvenient and pointless, we would face a possible default on U.S. debt that could rattle the global economy.

Those are lousy choices.

I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.

Alec Baldwin’s Short Leash

With Alec Baldwin gearing up for a weekly show on MSNBC, the Hollywood Reporter asked the network’s president about the liberal comedian’s online rants.

Phil Griffin said he “has asked Baldwin to tone down his famously vitriolic Twitter feed.”

“He's a big personality. I have confidence that he'll be known for his interviews, not for any extraordinary …” says Griffin, trailing off.

Baldwin says his role model is Dick Cavett, who “had eclecticism to his guest list.”

“And he tried to have a smart conversation, whether the person was the heavyweight champion of the world or one of The Beatles or Gore Vidal,” Baldwin continued. “He didn't talk down to anyone.”

Bill Clinton, CNN Fan

There was a brief bit of awkwardness on “Piers Morgan Live” when a former president of the United States said he had been concerned about CNN’s ratings.

“I used to worry that CNN was going to lose too many viewers,” Bill Clinton said.

Morgan, whose show runs third in the ratings, jumped in, saying, “no fear of that, Mr. President, we are storming ahead.”

The media critic-in-chief delivered his critique.

“You are doing better, you are more entertaining now, which is good,” Clinton said. “But you became more entertaining without becoming more extreme, which is important.”

Clinton, who has been critical of Fox and MSNBC, added “people are wired when they see all this conflict, to get into the fray."

“The good news about the media today is that we have more sources of media than ever before,” Clinton said. “The bad is that all of us, we are more prone to go to the places we already agree with.”

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Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of "MediaBuzz" (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz.