Fox Host Neil Cavuto Rejects ABC's Economic Pessimism

ABC’s “Good Morning America” hosted Fox Business anchor/managing editor Neil Cavuto on Wednesday morning — by himself with no liberal counterpart! While co-host Diane Sawyer peppered Cavuto with questions based on the idea that the economy was a disaster and Barack Obama was being unfairly attacked by John McCain, Cavuto offered a healthy alternative not typically seen on ABC.

Sawyer suggested Obama’s claim that motorists inflating their tires could create an oil savings equal to the amount that might be obtained by offshore drilling was “factually true” while McCain’s mocking of Obama was a “stunt,” and dourly observed that consumer confidence was at “almost a 22-year low.” But Cavuto rejected Sawyer’s pessimism:

If people have a feeling that things are so miserable, why are they buying $300, $400 IPhones with very expensive contracts. Why are they spending so much at the movie theaters? Why are they still going out in record numbers to restaurants?...When people are surveyed Diane on this stuff, it's very important to distinguish between someone saying we think things are lousy but when they're asked about how are you doing, they say, well, you know, not that bad, not that bad. There is a difference.

Here’s a full transcript of Sawyer’s interview with Cavuto, which took place at about 7:10am on the August 6 “Good Morning America”:

Diane Sawyer: To lay it on the line, give us a dose of his own brand of common sense, managing editor of Fox Business Network -- well, if I could talk -- I just am all, all falling apart on you. He is the host of "Cavuto," Neil Cavuto is with us this morning. It's good to have you here.

Neil Cavuto: Good morning.

Sawyer: So good to see you, how about this. Gas down now for the third week in a row. Who would have thought $3.98 on average would be cheerful,

Cavuto: Seems like a bargain. Seems like a bargain.

Sawyer: So cheerful. Has it topped out. Is it going to continue to go down?

Cavuto: I wish I were that smart, Diane. I think one of the things that happens with markets and the supplies of energy they go in extremes. The markets have this reputation for a reason that they tend to take things to the umph. And we we're going to the umph on the upside, some say maybe with Edouard turning out not to be the serious storm some thought it would be, that would batter the Gulf. That was an excuse.

Sawyer: You have an instinct this is going to hold now and continue to go down?

Cavuto: I've held the view on Fox Business that what's been happening here is a run-up very akin to the run-up we had in real estate prices, the run-up that we had in internet stocks years before. It was a frothy mentality that didn't justify simple supply and demand. Having said that, I'm not smart enough to think that these levels are where we stick but many people far smarter than I have said, Diane, that a realistic price for oil is probably slightly under $100 a barrel so we would have a ways to go.

Sawyer: Lets talk about gas prices and politics here. Senator Barack Obama as you know said yesterday that basically the McCain camp is ridiculing something that is just factually true. That if people tune up their cars and actually do put the increased pressure in their tires, you can save 800,000 barrels of oil as opposed to 1.2 for offshore drilling. So is he right factually it can make a difference?

Cavuto: I, it definitely can make a difference. I have not checked out whether it's 800,000 barrels or 400,000 barrels. I'm sure things like checking your tire pressure and driving 55, you know, all I know is I drive pretty fast on the road and people are passing me.

Sawyer: So is the McCain -- is the McCain -- is it just a stunt, the McCain gas -

Cauvto: No, I think you can argue they're both pulling stunts here. I think -- the fact of the matter is as I've been telling people, it's really like a jump ball on this stuff. Do the tire pressure thing. Do the conservation thing, watch the speed thing but also look at drilling. Also look at alternative energy. Jump ball, have at it because we rely too much on this from abroad.

Sawyer: And what about consumer confidence? We have a new ABC Consumer Comfort Index which indicates that consumer confidence is down at almost a 22-year low here. As low as it's ever been.

Cavuto: You know, I have great stock in your confidence numbers as I do all confidence numbers I get but I also have a grain of salt in all of this because if people have a feeling that things are so miserable, why are they buying $300, $400 IPhones with very expensive contracts. Why are they spending so much at the movie theaters? Why are they still going out in record numbers to restaurants?

Now, it's not just the same slightly overweight people going to the same restaurant again and again and again. I'm just arguing that I'm not saying let them eat cake. But apparently a lot of people are eating cake. There's a lot more going on. When people are surveyed Diane on this stuff, it's very important to distinguish between someone saying we think things are lousy but when they're asked about how are you doing, they say, well, you know, not that bad, not that bad. There is a difference.

Sawyer: But food banks report a 15% to 20% increase of people coming to their doors.

Cavuto: Alright, but it's the same thing as looking at foreclosure activity and saying it's at a record. Well there are more Americans, more people have mortgages. You're going to have a higher number. It's always about percentages, Diane, and the fact of the matter is, when you look at overall percentages, we clearly have problems, but when you argue that 97% of mortgages, for example, in this country are as of this day when you and I are talking being paid on time, it gives you I think a more accurate bigger picture.

Sawyer: All right. So we'll take the ABC News Consumer Comfort Index. And...

Cavuto: Oh it's a great index that I'm comfortable with, but what the Comfort Index leaves out the fact, how are you? How are you, Diane Sawyer, feeling? How are you Neil Cavuto feeling. How are you, you know, John Doe feeling? There is a big distinction between doing it in the aggregate and asking someone singularly how you are specifically doing. You always get different results.

Sawyer: Can't let you leave six weeks you've been away and I know that you have MS and you have talked about complications from it and it affected your throat. You had to go away for surgery.

Cavuto: I did. I had throat surgery. I have MS, I have what was equivalent to paralysis of my larynx and without grossing your fine viewers out at this early hour, my throat was paralyzing, if you will, it's a poor choice of words and they had to do the surgery to effectively make me the bionic throat and to open it up and for six weeks Diane I had to shut the heck up which is hard for me.

Ah but for the first time of my life I learned the value I guess of just listening to people and to two listening to little boys that wanted to yap a lot and a girl who wanted me to tell me her story without dad lecturing her and I learned quite a bit about that. And my viewers were I think happy for the lesson maybe.

Sawyer: Well, you said some wonderful things when you came back including you learned that it's better to catch fireflies than talk about catching fireflies.

Cavuto: Or to talk at all. Thanks, Diane.

Sawyer: Great to have you back.

Cavuto: Thank you very much.

Sawyer: And great to have you here.