In an interview with CNBC on Friday, Trump administration National Trade Council Director Peter Navarro had a “let them eat cake moment.”
After being questioned about a potential tax policy that would hit the retail industry hard, he called research critical of the policy “fake news.”
The policy is called a border adjustment, and it would basically tax companies that import goods to the United States. Of course, some of those companies are retailers that get clothes made outside the country.
Retailers are worried about it. The National Retail Federation, in a release opposing the border tax this month cited a talk by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley who said, “I think that it will probably lead to a lot of changes in the value of the dollar, the prices of imported goods in the U.S. I’m not sure that that would all happen very smoothly and I also think there could be lots of unintended consequences.”
CNBC’s Melissa Lee pointed to a Citigroup estimate that this new tax would be a massive hit to company earnings. That means people working in retail will likely lose their jobs as companies try to cut costs.
Navarro immediately got defensive.
“Well first of all this is a false narrative and a fake study,” he countered.
Lee was a bit surprised, “let me get this right,” she said. “Citigroup did a fake study?”
“Citigroup has no credibility,” Navarro responded. He called the bank’s analysis and analysis from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, “garbage studies and scare tactics,” and compared them to media outlets like MSNBC and CNN.
“We are not backing off,” he finished.
Lee pointed out that Citigroup isn’t the media, it’s research written for investors looking to find out if companies are healthy. Navarro ignored that point.
“Yeah, well the Dow just hit 20,000, how you like them apples? There are winners and losers,” he responded.
Winners, we are assuming, are the people who get to keep their jobs. Losers are everyone else.
The internet wasted no time in expressing dismay at the interview, CNBC’s own journalists included.
Let’s be clear in what happened in that interview:Trade Dir. Navarro effectively called Citigroup & Goldman Sachs research “fake news”
— Brian Sullivan (@SullyCNBC) January 27, 2017