Colbert skewers MSNBC and CNN for redefining recession, says they’re not ‘qualified’ to speak out on issue
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During Thursday night’s episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the host poked fun at cable media for not knowing if the United States is currently in a recession.
Colbert ridiculed CNN and MSNBC for helping the White House cover its tracks on what traditionally constitutes a recession and what does not. At the end of the segment, Colbert also made sure to show how unqualified each channel’s economic experts seemed on the subject.
The host’s Thursday Night Comedy spoke about the confusion over the White House and its media allies redefining what usually indicates a recession.
Historically, two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth is the biggest indicator of a nation in recession. The United States hit that marker on Thursday, but the Biden White House insisted the country had not entered a recession, saying other aspects of the economy were doing well.
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Colbert opened his recession segment with the big question: “So, are we in a recession…or are we?” To find his answer, he started by reading a statement from the White House quoted in a CNN Business article. “According to the White House, ‘two consecutive quarters of economic contraction does not, in and of itself, constitute a recession'”.
Sarcastically, he pivoted to the news. “Luckily, we have information on cable to cut the whole thing off and give us straight answers,” he said, as the audience laughed.
Mimicking a conversation with CNN, he asked, “CNN, we’ve had consecutive quarters of negative growth. What does that mean historically?” Colbert aired a clip from CNN business reporter Matt Egan in response. Egan said, “Every time since 1948 that you’ve had consecutive quarters of negative growth, you’ve had a recession, every time.”
The host then continued, “So it is this time?” A clip of Egan replied, “That may not necessarily be the case this time.”
The audience laughed as Colbert conveyed the confusion generated by Egan’s statements.
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Then he turned to MSNBC clips. “Okay. Still, when it comes to the recession, we should be able to use history as a guide, right, MSNBC?” The show featured a quote from Financial Times editor Gillian Tett speaking on “Andrea Mitchell Reports”. Tett said, “We really don’t know to what extent we can or can’t use history as a guide.”
Colbert insisted, asking: “Of course, but at the bare minimum, on next quarter’s GDP, up or down?”
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In response to that question, Colbert turned to a clip of CNN Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans on “New Day,” who remarked, “That’s a number that could turn positive, it could turn more negative.”
The host then hammered all the experts featured in the segment with his final query. He said, “Okay. Last question: do you need any qualifications to go on TV and talk about economics?”
He concluded with a clip from Insider columnist Linette Lopez on “MSNBC Reports,” saying, “It’s really impossible to tell.” Colbert then looked at the camera with a smirk as the audience burst into laughter.