Over the last several weeks, economists have begun arguing about whether the United States has fallen into a recession. The textbook definition of two successive quarters of negative growth has not yet been met, but other criteria strongly suggest that a recession is already underway.
Although the Federal Reserve still avoids speaking of recession, many economists are less reticent, and the BBC reports that it's "hard to find an economist who doesn't believe the US is either in recession or so close it's not worth arguing about."
However, Fox News still has plenty of recession skeptics. A Tuesday opinion piece at Fox's website argued that low inflation and unemployment figures indicate the economy is in good shape and that "the media’s focus on the negative side of everything surely helps explain people’s pessimism."
Steve Doocy of Fox and Friends took the idea of a media conspiracy one step further on Wednesday, suggesting that "there are some 'liberal elements' to the media and they are trying to get a Democrat in the White House."
Doocy's remark came in response to presidential candidate Barack Obama assertion in a speech last week that "most experts agree our economy is in a recession" and that we need to "pursue a bold opportunity agenda for the American people."
"We know that the price of gas is high, and there's a sub-prime mortgage meltdown -- but are we really in a recession?" Doocy asked. He then turned for comment to Amy Menefee, who is managing editor of the Media Research Center's Business and Media Institute, a group known for its pro-business stance and skepticism about global warming.
"Technically a recession, two quarters of negative growth. We haven't even had one quarter of negative growth. ... What's that about?" Doocy asked.
Menefee did not answer directly, but complained instead that the "mainstream networks ... have gone far beyond recession, they're already concerned about a depression. ... We are far from a depression right now."
Menefee also mocked concerns over the sub-prime mortgage crisis, saying, "We saw ABC saying the free market didn't work, which is pretty amazing. They're not allowing people on the networks to say, 'Hey, let's just get this in perspective right now.' As you say, we haven't had a quarter of negative growth yet."
However, when Doocy asked Menefee whether the agreed that "liberal elements" in the media were "trying to get a Democrat in the White House?" Menefee just laughed and replied, "I don't know if it's as all conspiratorial as that."
"There is an anti-business element in the mainstream news," Menefee suggested. "I think it's the underdog syndrome. ... A lot of the coverage we've seen is sob stories about homeowners or credit card holders ... who are in trouble, and there's not an element of personal responsibility in the coverage."
This video is from Fox's Fox & Friends, broadcast April 2, 2008.
Transcript via closed captions
:: steve: barack obama himself a couple of days ago was talking about the recession we're in. we know the price of gas is high, and there's a sub prime mortgage meltdown, but are we really in a recession? let's talk to amy minfy. she's the managing manager of business and media institute. good morning.
:: good morning. thanks for having me. technically a recession, two quarters of negative growth. we haven't even had one quarter of negative growth, and yet we keep hearing the "r" word over and over.
:: we look at the mainstream networks, and they've gone far beyond recession, they're already concerned about a depression, and so we've talked to economic advisors. it doesn't take us very many that we're far from a depression right now. in the great depression running back unemployment was five times what it is right now. and i don't think people can even comprehend that. brian: and then you have 5.2% unemployment right now, inflation is still 2.7%, so overall the numbers are low. disturbing news is about the housing. that seems like unchartered territories. are we blowing it out of proportion?
:: when we saw the bear stearns' fall, for example, we saw cbs saying well, bear stearns made it through the great depression, but they couldn't make it through this. we saw abc saying the free market doesn't work, and they're not allowing people on the networks to say hey, just let's get this in perspective right now. as you said, we haven't had a quarter of negative growth yet. steve: so we're not technically in a recession, and yet we hear politicians and people on the tv and the radio and the papers talk about recession. amy, don't you think what's at the core here is that there are some liberal elements to the media, and they are trying to get a democrat in the white house?
:: i don't know if it's as all conspirittorial as that. steve: i said elements.
:: there is ab antibusiness element in the news. it's the underdog syndrome. a lot of the coverage we've seen is sob stories about homeowners and credit card holders who are in debt who are in trouble, and there's not an element of personal responsibility in the coverage which is really unfortunate because it's very one-sided, and it doesn't really show all of the reality ies behind where we are right now. another thing that the media are leaving out is the push to rescue people, to rescue the economy. it's a lot of pressure for government to do something. steve: good point.
:: and we don't want government to just do anything just to do something. brian: you rescued us from solid recession talk. we appreciate it. amy menefee, thanks so much.