On October 1, 2013, many newspapers from around the country led with simple headlines in big, black capital letters:
Other leading stories were slightly more poetic:
OUT GO THE LIGHTS.
LEGISLATIVE HOT POTATO.
SCREECHING TO A HALT.
The federal government shut down at midnight on Tuesday, for the first time in 17 years. On the same day, parts of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, also went into effect. And countless other happenings sputtered along in fifty states, despite the chaos in Washington, D.C. From Alabama to California, the headlines that editors wrote captured reactions to this moment in history: frustration, concern, sympathy, hope, disgust, utter disinterest.
Some touts focused on local repercussions of the federal budget stalemate. “CLOSED FOR BUSINESS,” read American News from Aberdeen, S.D., “Mount Rushmore plan not workable.” The governor had attempted to keep the national icon open by substituting state workers for federal ones but was told that the National Park Service can’t transfer control of a federal facility. Other papers led with stories about local forts, national parks or furloughed federal workers who would losing money and staying home from work.
Others focused more on the health care law, relegating the government shutdown to a single column. “Business owners brace for Obamacare,” read the Summit Daily News in Frisco, Colo. And some made no mention of the shutdown at all. The Times Journal in Fort Payne, Ala., stuck with its feature on the Daughters of the American Revolution. Without a word on Washington, the Daily Times in Harrison, Ark., teased a story on Page 4A: “Inside: I look better in a dress than my wife.”
Many headlines placed blame on lawmakers, Obama or both. “CONGRESS FAILS,” wrote the Daily Courier in Prescott, Ariz. “Partisan bickering, Congress’ failure to act result in government shutdown,” read the sub-headline from the Bakersfield Californian. And the New York City Daily News trumpeted a typically crass line focusing on one man. Above an image of House Majority Leader John Boehner’s face imposed on the Lincoln Memorial read “House of Turds.”
The Newseum, in partnership with hundreds of newspapers, has a gallery you can peruse here.