WaPo, NY Times, CNN, Associated Press and more frame second quarter GDP numbers as fueling ‘recession fears’

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The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times and others embraced the White House definition of a recession on Thursday after GDP numbers showed consecutive quarters of negative growth as the U.S. economy enters a recession. 

Headlines from several media outlets framed the news as “fueling recession fears” despite the economy entering a technical recession after Thursday’s gross domestic product showed 0.9 percent contraction on an annualized basis from April through June.

“U.S. economy shrinks again in second quarter, reviving recession fears,” a Washington Post headline read. The report acknowledges that the numbers have “often signaled a recession.” 

Similarly, the Associated Press report on the news said the second quarter numbers were “raising fears that the nation may be approaching a recession.”

“Consecutive quarters of falling GDP constitute one informal, though not definitive, indicator of a recession,” the AP report said.

A Washington Post headline says the second quarter negative GDP numbers were "reviving" recession fears.

A Washington Post headline says the second quarter negative GDP numbers were “reviving” recession fears.


CNN’s front-page headline described the news as crossing a “symbolic recession threshold,” and its report also used “fueling recession fears.” The report describes the technical definition of a recession as the “unofficial” definition. 

“That decline marks a key symbolic threshold for the most commonly used — albeit unofficial — definition of a recession as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.”

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A Business Insider story Thursday, headlined, “Today’s GDP numbers don’t tell us if we’re in a recession – and we won’t know for sure until we’re already in the middle of a crisis,” said the GDP figures didn’t provide “clarity” on the state of the U.S. economy.

“The US economy shrank by 0.9% in the second quarter, following a 1.6% decline in the first quarter. Two consecutive quarters of contraction is often used as a shorthand for a recession, but the situation is more complicated,” Insider reported.

Several White House officials appeared on television over the last week to get ahead of the negative GDP report, attempting to redefine the common definition for a recession. Media outlets, such as the Associated Press and CNN, appeared to embrace the talking points coming from White House officials as well.

White House economic adviser Brian Deese was asked about the Biden administration's plan for inflation during CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Tuesday.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque 

White House economic adviser Brian Deese was asked about the Biden administration’s plan for inflation during CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Tuesday.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque 
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

National Economic Council Director Brian Deese said Monday on CNN that the GDP report would be “inherently backward looking.”

“Certainly in terms of the technical definition, it’s not a recession,” Deese said. “The technical definition considers a much broader spectrum of data points.”


The New York Times report on the second consecutive quarter of negative GDP growth said it was “fanning fears” of a recession in their headline. However, the piece noted it could signal that one has “already begun.”

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“A key measure of economic output fell for the second straight quarter, raising fears that the United States could be entering a recession — or perhaps that one had begun,” the report said.

Politico’s write-up of the news framed it as a “new headwind” for President Biden, and said it offered “Republicans a tantalizing opportunity to declare that the economy under President Joe Biden is now in a recession.”

The outlet reported that the U.S. economy was meeting just one of the many criteria of a recession.

New York Times headline says GDP numbers are "fanning recession fears."

New York Times headline says GDP numbers are “fanning recession fears.”


Biden said the GDP report was “no surprise” on Thursday, after saying earlier in the week that a recession was not going to happen. 

“Coming off of last year’s historic economic growth – and regaining all the private sector jobs lost during the pandemic crisis – it’s no surprise that the economy is slowing down as the Federal Reserve acts to bring down inflation,” Biden said in a statement. “But even as we face historic global challenges, we are on the right path and we will come through this transition stronger and more secure.”

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