In his Bloomberg column today, Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute charges that the news media is guilty of a “politically motivated pessimism” when it pushes “the idea that the U.S. is in a terrible recession.” Hassett, who is an economic adviser to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), argues that the “Democratic-leaning press” may be trying to “influence the election” against McCain:
The bias has an easy explanation. Yale University economist Ray Fair has shown that a weak economy hurts the incumbent party. If a Democratic-leaning press can convince everyone that the economy is in recession, then it can influence the election.
Our analysis indicates that the treatment of the economy would be much different if there were a Democrat in the White House today.
To support his argument, Hassett cites a “highly flawed” study he conducted with John Lott that claimed to show that newspapers “give more positive news coverage to the same economic news when Democrats are in the Presidency than for Republicans.”
But he also neglects to mention that the candidate who he claims would be hurt by the purported “bias” hasn’t been shy about describing the economy as in a recession. In fact, on April 14, when McCain was asked directly, “Are we in a recession?” he responded, “I certainly think so.” Watch it:
McCain’s comments to the Associated Press in April weren’t an isolated incident or a mere slip of the tongue. On March 8, he told reporters that it was “very likely” that America was “probably, quote, ‘in a recession.’”