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Howard Kurtz on the Government Shutdown: Is This the New Normal?

As seen on Media Buzz

Below is a preview by Howard Kurtz of what's to come on this week's Media Buzz! Check it out and tune in every Sunday at 11p ET to Fox News Channel.

It’s been a surreal week in Washington.

The United States government shut down, and a disturbed woman with a baby in her car tried to rammed into Capitol police officers, winding up dead—the attack taking place just two blocks from my office.

But the coverage of these calamities was filled with controversy, as we’ll debate on Media Buzz on Sunday at 11 am eastern.

You would expect, in our polarized political climate, for there to be lots of finger-pointing over the shutdown. But in this case, there are as many conservative pundits pointing fingers at Ted Cruz and the Republicans as there are slamming Barack Obama and the Democrats. So it can’t all be blamed on liberal bias.

What is striking, with 800,000 furloughed federal workers, is that there’s even a media tussle over the impact of the shutdown itself. Left-leaning outlets cite all the closures around the country, kids excluded from cancer trials, and workers without paychecks. Right-leaning outlets say the administration is exaggerating the effects and that the hit to the economy is negligible.

As for the tragedy involving Miriam Carey, when I rushed over to the Capitol, I was surprised to find a congressman, Juan Vargas, tying the fatal shooting to the shutdown, saying the harsh rhetoric brings out the crazies. Some on the right blamed the tough talk from the Democrats; some on the left complained that the GOP was blocking paychecks for the Capitol police officers who bravely responded.

And yet the impact of the shutdown itself—as opposed to the bitter politics surrounding it—no longer seems urgent, front-page news. And the Capitol shooting saga, after dominating cable news for hours, quickly faded.

This is the new normal in Washington—and a great challenge for our panelists. 

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