July 10, 2017

CNN Analyst April Ryan Thought Trump Spokesperson Invented the Word ‘Stagflation’

April Ryan has been a frequent subject this year at NewsBusters, given her proclivity to see racism where there is none, her failure to understand the difference between a person’s annual income and their net worth, and her criticism of center-right news sites allowed into White House briefings as “fake news peddlers.” Naturally, Ryan’s next move after that final item was to join serial fake news perpetrator CNN as an analyst. Three months into her new gig, she has embarrassed herself several times, perhaps never moreso than on Monday, when she first believed that a Trump administration official had made up the term “stagflation,” and then pathetically tried to claim she had been joking.

According to Dictionary.com, stagflation, “an inflationary period accompanied by rising unemployment and lack of growth in consumer demand and business activity,” has been around as a term since “1965-1970.”

This made it especially odd that Ryan would have contended, as she definitely did Monday afternoon, that Marc Short of the Trump administration was inventing the term out of thin air at that day’s White House press briefing.

Short misspoke, and then quickly corrected himself, when discussing the U.S. economy during the Obama era:

MARC SHORT, Trump administration Director of Legislative Affairs: As Americans are anxious to get back to work and get the economy growing again after eight years of stagflation — sorry, stagnation, the nominee to run the President’s Council of Economic Advisers is stuck waiting for approval. Kevin Hassett again received Democrat support and an endorsement letter from 44 bipartisan economists, some of whom even served in the Obama administration. He was approved in committee on June 14th and again is still waiting to be confirmed.

(Separately, the Senate’s failure to confirm so many of Trump’s nominees, which is an outrageous combination of Democrats’ blocking moves Republicans’ failure to engineer up-or-down votes, is not getting the press coverage it deserves. In the example Short identified, not having someone in charge of the Council of Economic Advisers at this point should be considered a national disgrace.)

Ryan clearly thought she was cleverly (and quite cynically) capitalizing on what she thought was Short’s invention of a goofy word never seen before when she pushed out the following tweet:

AprilRyanOnStagflation071017

It’s quite plausible, and defensible, that Ryan had never really heard the term before Monday. She graduated from college in 1989 and is 49 years old. The term “stagflation” would have fallen into general disuse by the time she reached her senior year in high school, after the economic boom during the Reagan years left the brutal stagflation driven by Jimmy Carter-era policies in the rear-view mirror.

But that’s where the defense of Ryan begins and ends. If you hear a responsible official use a word you haven’t heard before, you don’t assume that he made it up, or even that he misspoke. You look it up first to see if it really is a word. Ryan failed to do this. Her ingrained bias against the Trump administration and its supposedly ignorant representatives could hardly be more obvious.

It’s particularly annoying to see this kind of arrogance coming from someone who really believed in mid-March that the portion of Trump’s illegally released 2005 tax return showing him making $100 million that year showed “he was not a billionaire”:

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Ryan still could have recovered. After all, as I noted, the term “stagflation” hasn’t been widely used since the mid-1980s. She could have tweeted, “To my surprise, ‘stagflation’ is a real word. I was wrong. I apologize to readers and Marc Short.” The character count of that statement is 97, making it instantly tweetable.

Instead, like so many journalists, politicians, and others caught dead to rights these days, she dug her hole so deep that she’ll never fully escape the humiliation of this incident or its impact on her credibility — nor will she deserve to.

In the following two tweets out of about a half-dozen relating to her attempted walkback (links are here and here), Ryan tried to pretend she was joking:

AprilRyanOnStagflationJoking071017

If she was “joking,” Ryan wouldn’t have originally contended that Short made up the word. It’s not arguable, and it’s embarrassing for someone claiming to be an adult to try to pretend that it is.

As for Ryan’s insistence that “I will continue to be me” — Well, if that involves continuing to doggedly fail to acknowledge mistakes when she makes them, as all of us must do from time to time, one must truly pity her and those who must deal with her on a daily basis.

The only “good” thing one can say is that she’s right where she belongs in being associated with CNN.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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