According to three people who’ve spoken to Trump about recessions and the American economy since 2017, the president has repeatedly voiced concerns—or bitter annoyance—about what he views as media outlets’ ability, or even alleged desire, to help create economic recession through self-fulfilling prophecy.
One of these sources said they’ve heard Trump say at least three times over the past two and a half years that the media would “love it if” a recession occurred during his first term, seriously harming his chances at re-election in 2020. Since his inauguration, the president has brought up the subject of possible recession, sometimes as an unprompted tangent, in various policy and messaging discussions, including on health care, taxes, and trade.
“[Trump] thinks recessions or booms are often self-fulfilling prophecies,” another one of the sources said. “He’s said when the media starts beating the drum about a recession coming, that negativity gets into people’s heads and they change their behavior: less purchasing, fewer entrepreneurs starting small businesses, people moving money out of the market, [and so on]. That’s why he’s so concerned about the coverage of a potential recession… He believes he can will the economy in a positive direction by feeding optimism to the ‘American spirit.’”