Two fingers point at each other with a photo of the Capitol building in between

Molly Butler / Media Matters

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As a government shutdown looms, right-wing media figures continue to champion a shutdown and downplay its costs

Fox’s Sean Hannity: “They fearmonger it like it's the worst thing in the world,” but “people end up getting free vacations.”

While party infighting halts House Republicans’ ability to pass spending bills needed to extend federal funding and avert a partial shutdown of the government, right-wing media outlets have championed the looming shutdown and downplayed its effects on federal employees and those receiving social services. This would be the sixth consecutive shutdown brought about by a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, with past shutdowns being both costly for, and unpopular with, the American public. 

  • Correction (9/29/23): This piece originally stated that The Sean Hannity Show is on Westwood One. It is actually on Premiere Radio Networks.

  • GOP infighting could lead to a government shutdown

    • The government will shut down if House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is unable to rally support for a critical appropriations bill before the September 30 deadline. House Republicans have failed to pass several stopgap measures to avoid a shutdown, with the party’s right-wing members refusing to support any measures put forward. [The Associated Press, 9/28/23; CNN, 9/29/23]
    • Despite what some right-wing media figures have claimed, government shutdowns are both costly and unpopular. A shutdown means that thousands of government employees and contractors will report to work without pay, with only some being eligible for backpay, and some social services will pause. Shutdowns are also politically costly, with 73% of Americans disapproving of Congress following the similarly GOP-led, 16-day-long government shutdown in 2013. [ABC News, 9/20/23; Time magazine, 9/19/23]
    • Despite the costs, right-wing media figures have previously championed Republican-led government shutdowns. Back in 2019, right-wing media voices overwhelmingly encouraged President Donald Trump to shut down the government over funding for his planned border wall. [Media Matters, 1/3/19, 9/25/23]
  • Right-wing media figures are downplaying the impacts of a shutdown

    • On his radio show, Fox News prime-time host Sean Hannity dismissed fears of a government shutdown, saying, “They fearmonger it like it's the worst thing in the world,” but all that happens is “people end up getting free vacations.” He added in support of a shutdown, “Sometimes you’ve got to put pressure to get to make real change.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 9/13/23]
    • Newsmax’s Eric Bolling claimed that “the American people don't really care” if the government shuts down while interviewing GOP holdout Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Bolling praised Gaetz, saying, “There's ways to work around a shutdown in government and still get what you want, congressman. You're right.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 9/19/23]
    • Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo claimed that the GOP holdouts are “shutting down the government to stop once and for all the reckless spending,” adding, “In the past, a government shutdown was coincided with a rally in the stock market.” Fox host Jesse Watters agreed with Bartiromo, saying, “It is not the end of the world.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 9/20/23]
    • On Fox’s America’s Newsroom, Bill Hemmer downplayed the costs of government shutdowns, saying, “We're always given these warnings that the skies will fall. And what do they do? They close the veterans memorial for World War II in Washington, D.C.” Bartiromo added, “It just has in the past not been that big of a deal. The world is not coming to an end just because we have a government shutdown, frankly.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 9/21/23]
    • BlazeTV host Glenn Beck asked former Trump administration official Peter Navarro to explain shutdowns, adding, “You shouldn't fear it.” Navarro responded by saying that “the alternative” to a government shutdown “is the continued reckless spending that’s going to destroy this country.” [BlazeTV, The Glenn Beck Program, 9/21/23]
    • OutKick founder Clay Travis called the shutdown “very much a Washington, D.C., story” and stated, “I don't think that many people care about the government shutdown.” Travis explained, “Eventually the government is not going to be shut down, right? They’re going to end up with an agreement, and so it's really just kind of a parlor game. The government is not staying shut down. Maybe it’s going to stay shut down for two weeks, or three weeks, or whatever it is, and then everybody is going to get back pay. It's a made-up story in many ways to me.” [OutKick, The OutKick Show, 9/27/23]
  • Several right-wing media figures have celebrated the prospect of a shutdown

    • On his radio show, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk said to Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), “I would say just shut this sucker down.” Kirk continued: “I don't think we need to keep the government open. We need to draw a line in the sand. They're completely out of control. We’ve gone through government shutdowns before, and it’s not nearly as dramatic as they think.” [Salem Media Group, The Charlie Kirk Show, 9/19/23]
    • Newsmax’s Chris Plante said, “I love a government shutdown” while reporting on McCarthy’s leadership crisis. Co-host Jenn Pellegrino listed Gaetz’s demands and said, “I think a lot of us can get on board with that.” [Newsmax, The Right Squad, 9/19/23]
    • Louder with Crowder host and anti-LGBTQ bigot Steven Crowder stated in a social media post, “The government should be shut down. Change my mind.” [Twitter/X, 9/28/23]
    • Far-right social media influencer Rogan O’Handley, known online as DC_Draino, celebrated the shutdown as retaliation for the government supposedly being “weaponized against 75+ million Americans.” His full post contained a list of grievances to support why the government should close, stating: “They flood our country with illegals. They RIG OUR ELECTIONS. They force experimental injections into our bodies. … The real question is, why would you want this gov’t to stay open?” [Twitter/X, 9/28/23]