Nobody really wins in a government shutdown. But one party usually fares better politically, and if you want to know which side is more confident as this shutdown kicks off, watch cable news. At liberal MSNBC, the shutdown is a big deal, and self-consciously centrist CNN is treating it "on par with the birth of Christ," said Jon Stewart on Tuesday night's Daily Show.
At conservative Fox News, however, the on-air talent and their guests have been either whacking down straw-men arguments on the GOP's behalf, said Stewart, or downplaying the shutdown as no big deal.
"How bad can it be if it doesn't personally impact Sean Hannity," Stewart quipped.
It's true that many people won't physically feel the effects of the shutdown, at least not at first, Stewart conceded, but that doesn't mean there won't be real-life consequences. He listed a few, including heavy furloughs at the Food and Drug Administration — which led to a weird bit where Stewart pitched a fictitious herbal product called Braincocktin.
Stewart really lit into Fox News, though, over the shutdown's neutering of WIC, the supplemental food program for women and children. "It's like taking candy from a baby," Stewart said, "only instead of candy, it's food." When Fox News's Todd Starnes has the Hannity set cracking up over a joke about how "if you believe the Democrats, it's time to buy the potted meat and Tang and get in your survival bunker," Stewart lost it.
"I know that for you, potted meat and Tang is shorthand for s--t you wouldn't possibly imagine eating unless there was a catastrophe," Stewart growled, "but for the people actually affected by the government shutdown, it's the s--t they eat that they can no longer afford."
Still, Republican must care about children, Stewart said, because about six months ago everyone at Fox News was up in arms about the White House canceling tours due to the budget sequestration. "Hey, your kid didn't get breakfast—that's your problem," Stewart mocked, in his fake New Jersey voice. "My kid didn't get to tour the White House—that's everybody's problem."
Fine points, well delivered. Correspondent Jason Jones won the night, though, with his look at the ObamaCare messaging war.
Jones talked with an earnest, boring proponent of the law and a "spunky" conservative opponent. The conservative side is better at sloganeering, Jones said, but he found their substance so laughable he couldn't stay in character. When having to pick between bone-dry ads in favor of ObamaCare and creepy ones opposing it, Jones opted to just make his own. His commercial starring Johnny Knoxville is pretty funny, in a Jackass sort of way, but the mock ad starring Harvey Keitel is hilarious. Watch: