On Tuesday, for the first time in 17 years, the U.S. government shut down indefinitely, causing more than 800,000 federal workers to be sent home (or to stay home, as the case may be) without pay, among other terrible things. It's a pretty big deal! As such, it's the lead story on the homepages of the nation's leading, and not-so-leading, newspapers. "SHUTDOWN BEGINS," shouts The Washington Post, in what must be 40-point font. "Government Shuts Down in Stalemate," reports The Wall Street Journal. "U.S. Reckons With Impact of Shutdown," reckons The New York Times. It's also splashing on the sites of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, every New York City tabloid, and every network-TV news site, even Fox News (which opted for the milquetoast headline, "Government in Crisis").
But the shutdown barely registers on the nation's top conservative websites. The Weekly Standard is leading with a story about first lady Michelle Obama's apparently insidious campaign to get Americans to drink more water, The National Review has a piece about how Obama's agenda is "Transforming America," and although The Daily Caller's lead story, "Shutdown Party for Big Democrats," claims to be on topic, it's actually about a fundraiser Hillary Clinton hosted Monday night for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. It seems the editors of these websites have read the polls, too, and would just as soon downplay, or outright ignore, that our government is grinding to a halt—lest the GOP be rightly blamed.
There is, however, another news story of note today: The launch of the insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare, aka "a law as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850," aka "the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed in Congress," aka murderer of women, children, and senior citizens). Republican opposition to the law is, of course, the very reason the government has shut down, so it stands to reason—a very twisted reason, mind you—that Drudge Report and Breitbart would lead today with the following:
Drudge's sarcastic splash links to a generic Associated Press article, but the link above it, and Breitbart's lead story, are both about how Healthcare.gov, a federal insurance portal for 34 states, had technical problems after its midnight launch. We've long known that the right-wing media would celebrate any hiccup in Obamacare's rollout, and while there are legitimate reasons for worry, it requires a warped mind—or, more forgivingly, an incompetent website editor—to believe that a single website's crashing is more newsworthy than a national government's doing so.
Ryan Kearney is a story editor at The New Republic.