Colbert skewers MSNBC, CNN for redefining recession, claims they’re not ‘qualified’ to speak on issue

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During the Thursday evening episode of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the host mocked cable news outlets for being unclear whether the U.S. is currently in a recession.

Colbert lampooned both CNN and MSNBC for helping the White House muddy the waters on what traditionally constitutes a recession or not. At the end of the segment, Colbert also made sure to skewer how unqualified each channel’s economic experts seemed on the topic.

The host’s Thursday night humor spoke to the confusion over the White House and its media allies redefining what typically indicates a recession. 

Historically, two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth constitute the biggest tell of a nation in recession. On Thursday, the U.S. hit this marker, yet the Biden White House insisted the country had not entered a recession as they claimed other aspects of the economy are doing well.

Colbert skewers MSNBC, CNN for redefining recession, claims they’re not ‘qualified’ to speak on issue

Comedian and TV host Stephen Colbert hosted a segment on his show Thursday evening which mocked cable news outlets for helping the Biden White House spin its recession talking points. 
("The Late Show With Stephen Colbert"/CBS)

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Colbert opened his recession segment with the big question: “So we’re in a recession … or are we?” To find his answer he began by reading a White House statement cited 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. “Thankfully, we have cable news to cut through all the spin and give us some straight answers,” he said, as the audience laughed. 

Miming a conversation with CNN, he asked, “CNN, we’ve had back-to-back quarters of negative growth. What does that mean historically?” Colbert played a clip of CNN business reporter Matt Egan in response. Egan stated, “Every single time since 1948 that you’ve had back-to-back quarters of negative growth, you’ve had a recession, every time.”

The host then followed up, “So that’s the case this time?” A clip of Egan responded, “That may not necessarily be the case this time.”

The audience laughed as Colbert conveyed the confusion generated by Egan’s statements.

Colbert skewers MSNBC, CNN for redefining recession, claims they’re not ‘qualified’ to speak on issue

Despite the U.S. economy hitting the markers that designate it being in a recession, the White House and the media have been redefining what it means to be in a recession.
(Composite)

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Next, he turned to clips from MSNBC. “Okay. Still, recession-wise, we should be able to use history as a guide, right, MSNBC?” The show featured a quote from Financial Times editor-at-large Gillian Tett speaking on “Andrea Mitchell Reports.” Tett stated, “We really don’t know how far we can or cannot use history as a guide.”

Colbert pressed on, asking, “Sure, but at the bare minimum, on the GDP next quarter, 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, “This is a number that could turn positive, it could turn more negative.”

The host then hammered all the pundits featured in the segment with his last query. He said, “Okay. Last question: do you need any qualifications at all to go on TV and talk about the economy?”

He concluded with a clip of Insider columnist Linette Lopez on “MSNBC Reports,” stating, “It’s really impossible to tell.” Colbert then looked at the camera with a smirk as the audience burst into laughter. 

Colbert skewers MSNBC, CNN for redefining recession, claims they’re not ‘qualified’ to speak on issue

A Washington Post headline says that the second quarter negative GDP numbers were "reviving" recession fears.
(Screenshot/TheWashingtonPost)

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