When most Americans woke up Saturday morning, they didn't notice much difference from when they went to bed Friday night, despite a government shutdown that took place starting at 12:01 a.m.
CNN, however, certainly did, and by late Friday night, was already in a panic that civilization as we know it was about to come to a screeching halt. And since the "non-essential" government functions set to take a short break as Congress considered how best to fund them for the coming year, including NASA's asteroid monitoring service, CNN was absolutely convinced that civilization as we know it was about to come to an abrupt and violent end.
CNN reporter Tom Foreman explained that the last time the government shut down, NASA was forced to forgo its monitoring space-faring death rocks for a full two weeks, leaving Earth open to a collision that could devastate our world and wipe out humanity.
"Meanwhile many services would be stopped or delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would back down its flu tracking program even as the nation faces the worst outbreak in years. Some senior nutrition programs would be paused. 200,000 passport applications went unprocessed in 1995," Foreman explained.
"Congress funds much of the scientific research done in this country. In 2013, that meant some experiments went on hold in 2013 and suffered costly losses of data. In space same year, for more than two weeks, NASA reportedly stopped monitoring potentially dangerous asteroids."
That wasn't a big deal in 2013. But in 2018, there's an asteroid headed right for us.
"A big one, by the way, is expected to brush by Earth on February 4th," Foreman fretted.
He clearly underestimated precisely how many people would be relieved by that news, rather than saddened.
Fortunately for CNN, other countries also monitor asteroid activity, and Bruce Willis likely remains on call for any foreign effort to explode a deadly meteor, in addition to any United States-led strike force. As for the rest of the government, well, very little of it is actually shut down. The mail will still arrive on time. Nutrition programs and passport services might be slower, but Social Security and food assistance checks will still go out. Air traffic controllers will still be on duty.
But watch out for those meteors.