‘Orwellian Hellscape’: Top Economist Says Facebook Fact-Checked Recession Claim To Cover For White House

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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A top economist slammed Facebook’s “Orwellian” fact-checking system after he was given a “partly false” rating for stating the U.S. entered a recession.

Dr. Phillip Magness, the research and education director at the American Institute for Economic Research, shared a screenshot of a recent post from July 24 that Facebook fact-checked.

“Independent fact-checkers reviewed the photo and said it was partly false,” the fact-check read. “Facebook added a notice to the post.”

Magness called the fact-check “Orwellian.”

“We live in an Orwellian hell-scape,” Magness posted. “Facebook is now ‘fact-checking’ anyone who questions the White House’s word-games about the definition of a recession.” (RELATED: ‘People Just Don’t Know’: NYT Economist Says Americans Who Believe We’re In A Recession Have Been Duped By Media)

Magness furthered his assertion in a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) op-ed that the U.S. is, in fact, in a recession, and that the Biden administration is trying to cover it up by “playing word games.”

“Economists have long defined a recession as a ‘period in which real GDP declines for at least two consecutive quarters,’ to quote the popular economics textbook by Nobel laureates Paul Samuelson and William Nordhause. This definition isn’t perfect, but it describes almost every downturn since World War II.”

“The White House’s attempt to wordsmith its way around a recession shows the dangers of politicizing economic terms,” Magness continued. “Mr. Biden’s economic advisers are trying to buy time by exploiting NBER’s otherwise defensible methodology. They hope doing so will insulate the administration from the electoral backlash in the event of a downturn.”

Newly released data shows the real GDP decreased at an annual rate of 0.9% in the second quarter of 2022, marking the second consecutive quarter of negative GDP growth. While the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) uses several factors to determine whether the U.S. is in a recession, economist Julius Shiskin wrote in 1974 that two consecutive quarters of declining GDP is a good rule of thumb to define a recession, with that definition becoming somewhat of a standard.

The White House has gone out of its way to deny that the economy is in a recession, with President Joe Biden declaring Thursday the state of the economy “doesn’t sound like a recession.”

The White House also posted a blog that said the NBER indicated there is a “strong growth in the U.S. economy” and therefore the current state of things does not indicate a recession.

Things have become so confusing that Wikipedia had to place a pause on editing the term “recession” after the definition was altered 41 times within roughly one week. Users repeatedly deleted the technical definition that described a recession as having two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth.