One of the biggest problems of our hyperpartisan culture is that everything has been turned into a morbid game show.
Gone are the days when politicians and the media acted in the best interest of the American people. Instead, we have manufactured controversy and faux outrage over the most mundane of events. Instead of world news, we get 24/7 coverage of the President's Twitter feed. And instead of serious analysis, we get programming that resembles some horrifying merger of Family Feud, Hunger Games, and Real Housewives of New Jersey.
Consider CNN's coverage of the government shutdown. They are masters at combining the serious with the downright absurd: Their front page included a countdown clock and a gratuitous story about how your health will be affected. Supposedly, they are implying that when the clock runs out, we're all going to die.
As is typical, the article is full of speculative fearmongering. CNN claims that the government shutdown could worsen the flu season, poison the food supply, block the discovery of life-saving drugs, put our veterans at risk, destroy the environment, and imperil our lives.
In other words, CNN apparently believes that the government shutdown is a life-or-death event for possibly millions of people. To underscore how serious they are, they have included a countdown clock to doomsday. The only thing missing from the front page is a dancing Pennywise gif.
Of course, CNN doesn't actually believe any of that. They are manufacturing outrage and stoking fear to attract eyeballs. After all, the X-Files have returned, and CNN needs to compete for viewers.
The Mundane History of Government Shutdowns
Government shutdowns have happened many times in the past. Pointing a gun at our head and threatening to pull the trigger is a poor way to govern a superpower, but we've been running our country like this since at least the 1970's. Axios has put together a graphic depicting this:
Hopefully, our politicians will soon put aside their political point-scoring and get back to the serious business of running a nation. Until then, your health and the state of American science will be fine, regardless of what the talking heads on television say.