As Barack Obama wrapped up a speech from the White House on Tuesday, reporter Jon Karl of ABC actually shouted a tough question at the President, wondering, "...If you won't negotiate, how can you get a solution? How can you bring an end to this if you won't talk to the congressional leaders?" [MP3 audio here.] Anchor George Stephanopoulos noted that "Obama ignor[ed] a question from our own Jon Karl." Karl's network, on World News and Good Morning America, ignored it as well. NBC and CBS blamed the Republicans.
Instead of repeating his question on World News, Karl parroted Democratic talking points: "Today the President accused Republicans of waging an ideological crusade against Obamacare while he rejected their latest offer to re-open just part of the government." Anchor Diane Sawyer assigned responsibility to the GOP House: "And everywhere tonight, Americans are saying they are fed up with the congressmen who dig in and force the U.S. government to screech to a halt." "A lot of people outraged," she added. Did Obama play a part in the drama? Sawyer didn't say.
The best Karl could manage was to wonder: "Republicans sat across from empty chairs saying Democrats refuse to negotiate, while President Obama placed the blame entirely on Republicans."
In the piece, correspondent Jeff Zeleny harassed a conservative congresswoman, Vicky Hartzler :"Do you feel guilty at all that your paycheck is still coming and some of your staff might not be, or the janitors, the other workers across the government? I mean, is that awkward?" (Zeleny on Tuesday eagerly announced "cracks emerging" via a Republican Congressman – who already opposed the shutdown.)
Over on the CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley made sure to point out: "The most conservative Republicans in the House refused to pass a bill to fund the government unless it includes a significant rollback of the health care law."
Later, Pelley helpfully regurgitated, "This afternoon President Obama labeled this 'The Republican Shutdown."
Nancy Cordes pointedly explained, "I asked a Tea Party Republican today how long he feels comfortable keeping the government closed over Obamacare."
No effort was made to put blame on Obama.
NBC's Nightly News highlighted government workers protesting the strike. EPA employee Elizabeth Lytle attacked, "Congress needs to be turned over somebody's knee and spanked real hard because they`re acting like small children."
For more on the Nightly News coverage of the shutdown, go here.
[Thanks to MRC intern Paul Bremmer for the transcript.]
A transcript of the October 1 World News segment is below:
DIANE SAWYER: And a good evening to all of you. As we come on the air right now here is what is happening coast to coast across this country. It is day one of the first government shutdown in 17 years and we are seeing 800,000 workers coast to coast sent home without pay. Monuments and museums turn away school children. World War II veterans had to push their way forward to honor their fallen brethren. And everywhere tonight, Americans are saying they are fed up with the congressmen who dig in and force the U.S. government to screech to a halt. We begin now with ABC's chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl in Washington on the shutdown, the outrage, and what comes next. Jon?
JONATHAN KARL: Diane, we are one day into this shutdown and not a single step closer to resolving the impasse. Today the president accused Republicans of waging an ideological crusade against Obamacare while he rejected their latest offer to re-open just part of the government.[begin voiceover] Nearly 100 World War II veterans made the trek from Mississippi to Washington today only to see this, the memorial dedicated to their service closed. World War II infantryman James Nations had no idea.
JAMES NATIONS: We didn't know anything about it being shut down. We didn't watch the news this morning.
KARL: But somebody, not clear who, got the barricade lifted just long enough so they could get in. The shutdown has hit 800,000 federal workers around the country the hardest -- no work, no pay.
MAN: I live from paycheck to paycheck unfortunately.
WOMAN: These are real people's lives that are being affected and ruined and thrown into chaos.
OLD WOMAN: I'm getting tired of feeling like a ping-pong ball.
KARL: In fact, the whole mess started with a twisted game of political ping-pong, the first volley a week ago Friday -- the Republican House passing a government funding bill that also defunded Obamacare. A week later the Senate rejected it, sending its own bill back to the House. The House tried a slightly different version again Sunday, the Senate rejected, and then back and forth twice more yesterday. And today, Republicans sat across from empty chairs saying Democrats refuse to negotiate, while President Obama placed the blame entirely on Republicans.
BARACK OBAMA: This Republican shutdown did not have to happen.
KARL: That's why people all over the country are finding their government parks and facilities shut down.
MAN: Bunch of jerks running the show up there and it's not fair.
WOMAN: We’ve got families that we need to support, and they are playing with our livelihood.
MAN: I think it's crazy. I mean, the whole holding the government hostage over Obamacare is just ridiculous.
KARL: Perhaps sensing the anger, several Tea Party Republicans told ABC's Jeff Zeleny they've asked that their paychecks be withheld during the shutdown.
JEFF ZELENY: Do you feel guilty at all that your paycheck is still coming and some of your staff might not be, or the janitors, the other workers across the government? I mean, is that awkward?
REP. VICKY HARTZLER: Well, we are working. We're here today and we've continued to work, but I am going to also ask them to hold my salary as a gesture.
KARL: Even the ‘We the People’ section of the White House website is shut down. That's where people can submit their own petitions. The latest petition, the last one before the website went dark, Diane, was one saying that there should be a law that members of Congress not get paid unless they perform their budget duties on time. I would imagine that would get a lot of support around now.
SAWYER: A lot of people outraged. Shutdown signs absolutely everywhere. We thank you, Jon.