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The Government Shutdown

October 2, 2013

As I’m sure everyone has heard, the inability of our elected officials to compromise (that’s a story for another day) has led to the shutdown of the United States Federal Government.

For this post, I wanted to focus on the coverage of the event by the major networks.

The shutdown, which went into effect on October 1 after the House and Senate were unable to reach an agreement on the spending bill, was widely covered live on FOX, CNN and MSNBC. The CNN coverage, hosted by Piers Morgan, included debate from analysts and an interview from Capitol Hill with a democratic and republican politician standing next to each other and debating what course the country should take.

While all these networks were covering the story right at midnight and boasted large banner headlines across the screen reminding viewers of the “GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN,” I found the Twitter coverage of this event from these same news outlets to be interesting.

The CNN breaking news Twitter feed informed its readers early on that the shutdown was imminent. At just after 9 p.m. on September 30, it sent out the following tweet:

FOX News, while alerting its followers of the shutdown at the exact same time as the CNN tweet, did not actually send out its own tweet. It retweeted a post from @foxnewspolitics saying that the government had shut down.

NBC News also informed its followers of the information at the same time as the previous two networks and had similar content in its tweet.

While continuing on through the night and into the day on October 1, I found the content of the Twitter accounts to be quite interesting.

CNN has many posts about what to do next now that the government was shut down and how the shut down would affect your money. It also had a very interesting story about World War II veterans breaking past the barricade at the World War II memorial in Washington, DC, which had been closed, along with all other national parks and memorials, because of the shut down of the government. CNN also included tweets which included quotes from President Obama telling republicans in the House of Representatives to re-open the government.

FOX News doesn’t seem to have a lot of information for its viewers on how to deal with the government shut down. It does, however, give tips on how to “navigate” Obamacare and talks about how Obamacare has started with the government shut down. It retweets a lot of its other Twitter accounts such as @FoxNewsPhotos and @fxnscitech which gave a photo of furloughed government workers leaving the Pentagon and information on how to visit national parks during the shut down (although the tweet describes it as a partial government shut down).Those tweets are below.

NBC News also offered information to its followers on what aspects of the government would be closed due to the shut down as well as how it would affect people all across the country.

As I discovered in a previous post about live Twitter coverage of the Navy Yard Shooting in September, FOX News, while ultimately getting its followers the news about what is going on, seems to not be quite as informative as other news outlets. Both CNN and NBC News seem to provide their followers with a wealth of knowledge about how to deal with the shut down, while FOX News basically only provides the bare facts of the story. While they get the story, they don’t quite seem as active in personalizing the issue as CNN or NBC.


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  1. Interesting idea for a comparison. It’s a bit slow to start – your first few grafs are free of links even though they refer to existing/ongoing stories. I’d cut back on the exposition and get on with the comparison and analysis.

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