NewsBusters

NBC’s Guthrie Asks Federal Reserve Chair: ‘Do You Just Ignore’ Trump?

During a rare, exclusive interview with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on Thursday, NBC’s Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie couldn’t help taking a jab at President Trump, wondering if Powell had to “just ignore” Trump’s frequent criticism of the U.S. central bank’s monetary policy.        

“I’m sure you’re aware the President has been quite critical of the Fed and of you personally….called you ‘clueless,’ called the Fed ‘pathetic,’ ‘slow-moving,’” Guthrie fretted. She then pressed Powell: “Does what the President says affect you and what you do? Does it make your job harder, or do you just ignore it?”

 

 

The Fed chairman refused to take the bait:

You know, my colleagues and I here are totally focused on our mission of serving the American people. We know that what we do is important for all Americans, and we try to do our absolute best to serve of them in a way that is completely non-political, non-partisan and just to serve of all Americans. That’s our only focus.

Guthrie wrapped up the exchange by noting the extraordinary nature of conducting a live interview with the sitting head of the Federal Reserve:

…we went back and looked, this show’s been on the air 60-plus years, I think it’s been 30 years since we had a Federal Reserve chairman on live, maybe longer, maybe never. It’s so rare to have an interview like this, I just was curious why you decided to speak out and what is the message you want to send to Americans at this very difficult time?

Powell assured viewers suffering during the coronavirus pandemic: “So really the message is this, that this is a unique situation. It’s not like a typical downturn….The Federal Reserve is working hard to support you and our policies will be very important when the recovery does come, to make that recovery as strong as possible.”

Given the rarity of interviewing a Fed chair and the current global health crisis, it makes Guthrie’s decision to spend time decrying the President even more puzzling.

Here is a transcript of the March 26 exchange:

7:15 AM ET

(…)

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Mr. Chairman, I have to ask you, I’m sure you’re aware the President has been quite critical of the Fed and of you personally. I’m not going to get into all of it, but he has, in tweets, called you “clueless,” called the Fed “pathetic,” “slow-moving.” Does what the President says affect you and what you do? Does it make your job harder, or do you just ignore it?

JEROME POWELL [FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN]: You know, my colleagues and I here are totally focused on our mission of serving the American people. We know that what we do is important for all Americans, and we try to do our absolute best to serve of them in a way that is completely non-political, non-partisan and just to serve of all Americans. That’s our only focus. We don’t let anything else get into our thinking, and I think, you know, that’s just the way it always is at the Fed. We have a very strong culture that’s deep in our DNA and that just is the way it’s always going to be.

GUTHRIE: And, finally, sir, I – in about the ten seconds I have left – you know, we went back and looked, this show’s been on the air 60-plus years, I think it’s been 30 years since we had a Federal Reserve chairman on live, maybe longer, maybe never. It’s so rare to have an interview like this, I just was curious why you decided to speak out and what is the message you want to send to Americans at this very difficult time?

POWELL: So really the message is this, that this is a unique situation. It’s not like a typical downturn. We’ve asked people to step back from economic activity, really to make an investment in our public health, they’re doing that for the public good. And this bill that’s just passed is going to try to provide relief and stability to those people. The Federal Reserve is working hard to support you and our policies will be very important when the recovery does come, to make that recovery as strong as possible.

(…)

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