These days Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) always seems to be front and center in the national media’s coverage of the ongoing government shutdown — and with good reason, as the 73-year-old Nevadan is arguably the most powerful Democrat in the Beltway right now not named Barack Obama.

Reid’s de facto ubiquity means that liberal and conservative media outlets alike are devoting intense coverage to his every move. It ought come as no surprise, then, that Reid is simultaneously inspiring wildly divergent narratives in the mainstream media.

For example, a front-page profile in Thursday’s New York Times favorably portrayed Reid as an honest vanguard for America’s working-class values. Indeed, Jeremy W. Peters’ article alternately described Reid as “an amateur boxer in his youth (who) is more than a smart strategic thinker”; one who “speak(s) without inhibition or filter”; “no one’s idea of a polished, pressed and scripted Washington politician”; “more wily and scrappy than his stooped posture and shuffling walk suggest”; and a leader whose “upbringing in tiny Searchlight, Nev., where he grew up in a shack, is never far from his mind.”

Alternately, on Thursday afternoon the Fox News homepage was promoting an angry op-ed piece by FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe with the headline, “Harry Reid is holding our government hostage.” Therein Kibbe wrote declarative lines like, “Harry Reid is holding government funding hostage,” and “Harry Reid is holding the hot potato.”