When will CNN shut down its shutdown clock?

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Yahoo News

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CNN's shutdown clock has been featured prominently throughout its coverage. (CNN/Yahoo News)

When will CNN end its shutdown clock?

That's what some viewers may be wondering, as the cable network continues with its coverage of the first federal government shutdown in 17 years.

And while all the major cable news networks have continued with mostly wall-to-wall coverage of the shutdown, CNN and Fox News are taking strikingly different tacks.

On Wednesday, CNN aired a live prime-time special, "Shutdown Showdown," anchored by Jake Tapper.

"We are coming to you live tonight from the nation's capital," Tapper said, "the only city in America where you have to work this hard to get absolutely nothing accomplished."

The half-hour special featured Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, who has openly criticized fellow GOP members for pursuing a "silly strategy" in their quest to derail President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.

"Now that we have made the jump, set ourselves on fire and made the jump, we are now in the valley of death," Nunes said. "We decided to go into the valley. We have to run together. We have to stay together in order to fight the onslaught that's coming from the White House."

"It's not the tea party caucus. It's a lemming caucus. These guys who meet privately. They are always conspiring. It's mostly just about power. And it's just gotten us nowhere," he said, adding: "The Democrats are giddy about this behind closed doors."

CNN seems to be openly giddy, prominently displaying its shutdown clock in the lower right part of the screen.

On Thursday afternoon, the network removed the shutdown clock for its coverage of chaotic Washington car chase. But by 8 p.m., it was back.

On the other hand, Fox News' approach to covering the shutdown has been to pretend it's not a shutdown at all. According to the cable news network, it's more of a "slimdown":

What the Obama administration is portraying as a "shutdown" of the federal government — complete with signs posted at the entrances to government buildings, parks and monuments — is turning out to be more of a "slimdown," as all but non-essential workers reported to their jobs Tuesday.

The biggest impact is expected to be felt for the 800,000 or so federal workers facing furlough. But hundreds of thousands of other workers are reporting for work, and a patchwork of services remains open to the public as lawmakers and the White House continue to battle over a spending package.

Mail will still be delivered, Social Security checks will go out and, thanks to a last-minute bill, the military will continue to get paid.
"Despite the closure of thousands of parks, monuments, museums, and government offices across the country, the furlough of 800,000 employees is really just a 'slimdown,'" The Atlantic's Dashiell Bennett wrote in reference to Fox's coverage.

The "slimdown" language has been repeated by prominent conservatives, including former Fox News contributor Sarah Palin.

"Republicans in Congress are attempting to fund the Veterans Administration and other essential functions," Palin, the former Alaskan governor, wrote on Facebook. "But Democrats are blocking them because they want to make any slim down look as awful as possible in order to deflect from what this whole slim down thing is about, which is their Obamacare train wreck."

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, a tea party conservative, took a slightly different linguistic approach.

“There is no such thing as a shutdown,” Bachmann said. “It’s actually a slowdown."
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