Selective Outrage And The Right-Wing Noise Machine

Conservative Pundits Who Endorsed Government Shutdown Now Outraged Government Is Shutdown


After urging Republicans to shut down the government in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA or Obamacare), conservative media figures are selectively outraged at some consequences of the government shutdown. 

Conservative Pundits Urged Shutdown, Downplayed Its Effects

Sean Hannity 

Fox News' Hannity: Republicans Should "Shut The Government Down" To Repeal Obamacare, "And I Want Them To Do It." Back in March, Fox News host Sean Hannity hosted Dr. Ben Carson on his program Hannity and encouraged Republicans to shut down the government over Obamacare:

HANNITY: Republicans right now, if they really want to - not just symbolically - if they want to repeal health care, Dr. Carson, Obamacare, they've got to shut the government down. And be labeled 'the full faith and credit of the United States is in jeopardy.' Which is not true. But if they really want to do that, that's what it will take. I want them to do it. [Fox News, Hannity, 3/18/13, via Media Matters]

Hannity Told Republicans To "Hold The Line" On Shutdown. On October 1, the first day of the government shutdown, Hannity took to his radio show, The Sean Hannity Show, and encouraged Republicans to continue the shutdown until their demands are met:  

HANNITY: My advice to the Republicans: Hold the line. Stand on your principals. Stand with the American people. Stand for the best healthcare system. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show10/1/13]

Hannity: "Worst Outcome" Is For Republicans "To Cave" On Ending Shutdown. Later, on Fox News' Hannity, Hannity told Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that he didn't think Republicans "should give in at all" to demands to end the shutdown:

HANNITY: I think the worst outcome, though, for the Republicans in the House at this point -- as they have been reasonable and the president totally unreasonable, Reid unreasonable -- is to cave. I don't think they should give in at all. And if that means that they're going to sit this out for a month or two months, or however long the president wants to be arrogant and not talk to anybody, then sit it out. [Fox News, Hannity, 10/1/13]

Mark Levin

Mark Levin: "I Think We Could Use A Good Government Shutdown Right About Now." On the September 19 edition of his radio show, during the lead-up to the government shutdown, Levin said:

LEVIN: I personally -- not speaking for the Republicans certainly, and not speaking for any member of Congress and so forth and so on -- I think we could use a good government shutdown right about now, just to prove the point that somehow we will survive ... The truth is, you'll get by just fine. All this threat -- 'Oh my God, they're going to shut down the government!' And my view is, 'Really? Cool.'" [Cumulus Radio Networks, The Mark Levin Show, 9/19/13, via Media Matters]

Levin Dismissed Consequences Of Government Shutdown: "I Like The Weekends" When Government Is Shut Down. During an interview on Fox News' Hannity in August, Levin dismissed the effects of a possible government shutdown by likening it to weekends and federal holidays, telling host Sean Hannity, "Do you realize every weekend the government is shut down? Do you realize every holiday the government is shut down? I like the weekends, I like my holidays, when the government is shut down." [Fox News, Hannity, 8/20/13, via Media Matters]

Lou Dobbs

Fox Host Lou Dobbs: "Maybe We Need To Shut [The Government] Down Every Couple Of Years Under This Administration." The first day of the government closure, on the October 1 edition of his Fox Business show Lou Dobbs Tonight, host Lou Dobbs dismissed the effects of a shutdown on the economy, asking, "Do you want to hear any more bull about what a dangerous, disastrous thing a shutdown of our government is?" He added: "Maybe we need to shut it down every couple of years under this administration." [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight10/1/13, via Media Matters

Now Those Same Pundits Are Outraged That Some Of The Government Is Shut Down

Sean Hannity 

Hannity Asks "Who Wants This" Government Shutdown? On the October 4 edition of The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity said of the shutdown, "Literally we're holding veterans hostage to force Obamacare on America. That's how dumb this has gotten." He then noted congressional approval ratings after the government shutdown and claimed, the American people "disapprove [of] all of this. Who wants this? This is dysfunctional. This is the worst of the worst." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 10/04/13, via Media Matters]

Hannity: Obama Needs To "Fund The VA, Fund The NIH, Open Up Our Parks." On his Fox program on October 8, Hannity complained to Fox contributor Juan Williams about the shutdown causing national parks, the National Institute of Health, and the Veterans Administration to be closed:

WILLIAMS: You're making my head go crazy! Who shut down the government? It was the GOP! 

HANNITY: The president shut down the government!


HANNITY: The president won't negotiate!

WILLIAMS: If you won't do away with health care, Tucker a minute ago said, what about this? Look, these people wanted to get rid of Obamacare. Right now -- let me tell you, in Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, the guy who is running for governor, he's seen his numbers go down 10 points because of this shutdown-


HANNITY: Juan, if I want your advice on how conservatives should run their politics, I'll ask for it. But in the meantime, why don't you ask your president to fund the VA, fund the NIH, open up our parks, and then at least sit down at the negotiating table like an adult and stop acting like a petulant child, how about we do that? [Fox News, Hannity, 10/8/13] 

Mark Levin

Mark Levin: "I'll Be Damned If This President Or Anybody Else Is Going To Shut Down That WWII Memorial." On the October 2 edition of Levin's radio show, he expressed outrage at the fact that national memorials are closed during the shutdown. Levin claimed, "The Office of Management and Budget, which is in the White House in the Executive Office Building where I used to work, ordered the park service to close the World War II memorial -- ordered it -- to close the World War II memorial even though it was privately built and funded, because it's on federal land." Levin later warned federal officials against continuing the closure of the World War II memorial:

LEVIN: I want to say this loud and clear to the people on Capitol Hill who are listening, to this administration. You lay one damn hand on one of those World War II vets at that memorial, I'll bring half a million people to that damn memorial! You got that?! 


I'll be damned if one president, with his feet up on the desk in the oval office, with a smirk on his face, looking at his golf card -- I'll be damned if this president or anybody else is going to shut down that WWII memorial. Period! These men are in their 80s and 90s.


'Oh shut down the government,' shove it. Stop playing games with the American people. You know, we're not all losers. We're not all on the public dole. [Cumulus Media Networks, The Mark Levin Show, 10/2/13

Levin: NIH Is Only Closed Because Obama Wants To 'Create As Much Hysteria And Anger" As Possible. Levin complained about the fact that NIH and its clinical cancer trials are closed during the shutdown on the October 9 edition of his radio program, claiming that Obama is punishing "the most vulnerable in this nation":

LEVIN: Government is not your friend. And when it wants to lash out against you, it will lash out against you. And it's not just the IRS and the EPA ... It's your president doing everything they can with 17 percent of federal spending to try and punish the most vulnerable in this nation. 


Anytime you hear that some child with some awful disease or illness isn't getting the treatment they need, or they're not in a trial at NIH or something, you need to understand: this is a decision made by the president of the United States, the Office of Management and Budget as I explained last week which reports directly to him which is NOT considered non-essential. He's decided it's non-essential. To try and create as much hysteria and anger for political purposes as he possibly can. [Cumulus Media Networks, The Mark Levin Show, 10/8/13]

Lou Dobbs

Lou Dobbs: "The Obama Administration Making The Government Shutdown As Difficult As Possible For As Many As Possible." On the October 4 edition of his Fox Business show, Lou Dobbs blamed President Obama for the pain inflicted by the government shutdown he had previously cheered:

DOBBS: Masters of pain. The Obama administration making the government shutdown as difficult as possible for as many as possible. Closing parks, campgrounds, museums, cemeteries, even parks they don't operate. [Fox Business, Lou Dobbs Tonight, 10/4/13]

Media Matters intern Samantha Rhodes contributed to this report.

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