By Mike Pound
Today — unless there is some sort of last-minute agreement — federal budget cuts brought on by the sequester go into effect.
To find out what this means, I called my old friend Scoop McHair. Scoop is the Washington correspondent for a cable news network. I figured Scoop would be all excited about the chance to report on something as dramatic as the sequester.
“Hello?” Scoop said in a bored voice when he picked up the phone.
“Scoop, are you looking forward to covering the big story today?” I asked my old friend.
“Mike, the 49ers traded Alex Smith to the Chiefs on Wednesday,” Scoop said.
“Not that story. The sequester. You know, the devastating budget cuts,” I said.
“Oh that. (Sigh) I guess,” Scoop said.
“What’s the matter, Scoop? The last time this was happening, you were as excited as Nancy Grace at a murder trial,” I said.
“But the last time was the fiscal cliff. That was exciting. I mean, if something didn’t happen, there was a chance we would all tumble off a cliff to our deaths,” Scoop said.
“You do know there really wasn’t a cliff, don’t you?” I asked.
“Of course there was a cliff. If there wasn’t really a cliff, why did we call it the fiscal cliff? And if there wasn’t really a cliff, how come we made such a big deal about it?” Scoop asked.
“So you’re saying the fact that the media made a big deal about the fiscal cliff is proof that it actually existed?” I asked.
“Exactly,” Scoop said.
“So how come you’re not making a big deal about the sequester?” I asked.
“It’s the name, Mike. What’s cool about a sequester? Sequester is what they do to juries, and everyone knows a sequestered jury is boring,” Scoop said.
“During the fiscal cliff, you said the Republicans and the president were involved in a high-stakes game of poker. What game are they playing in the sequester?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Bridge maybe. Canasta. Go Fish. Take your pick. They’re all boring,” Scoop said.
“So what’s different this time?” I asked.
“It’s not fun now. During the fiscal cliff, it was fun to report about all the things that would have to be cut and how the cuts would wreck the economy and throw more people out of work,” Scoop said.
“Really? It was fun to report on the possibility of people being thrown out of work? How was that fun?” I asked.
“Because I wasn’t one of those people. See, when people get thrown out of work because of what happens here in Washington, it makes my job even more important,” Scoop said.
“So, for cable news shows, bad news is good news?” I asked.
“Exactly,” Scoop said.
“But if the sequester cuts happen, won’t that be bad news?” I asked.
“Yes, but it will be old bad news. Nothing is worse than old bad news. When we talk about all of the horrible things that might happen if the president and the Republicans can’t reach an agreement this time, people give it old the yawn-a-rooie,” Scoop said.
“Yawn-a-rooie? Is that even a word?” I asked.
“As far as you know,” Scoop said.
“But what if there is no agreement and something bad really happens this time? What then?” I asked.
“You’re asking the wrong question. What if an agreement is reached and none of the bad stuff happens? What then?” Scoop said.
“I don’t know,” I said.
“Then we get to report on the argument about lifting the debt ceiling. Now that’s a great story. It’s got everything. A ceiling ... debt ... a question involving lifting,” Scoop said.
“Well, Scoop, thanks for your help explaining the sequester. You’ve given us all a lot to think about,” I said.
“I have?” Scoop said.
“I was joking,” I said.
“Whew! See, we’re not supposed to give people anything to think about,” Scoop said.
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