Black Entertainment Television co-founder and entrepreneur Robert L. Johnson discussed the U.S. economy today on the CNBC show Squawk Box. Johnson is said to be the first African-American billionaire after selling the BET cable network, which launched in 1980, to Viacom in 2001. Johnson stayed on as BET CEO through 2006.
Johnson currently serves as chairman of the The RLJ Companies, which invests in numerous diverse ventures including hotels and car dealerships. He is the former majority owner of the-then NBA Charlotte Bobcats (now the Charlotte Hornets), subsequently selling his stake in the team to Michael Jordan.
With regard to the economy under President Donald Trump, Robert Johnson, who is a Democrat, remarked that “something is going right,” CNBC reported. He also noted that he has open access to Trump himself and high-level officials in the Trump administration in the context of improving economic conditions in urban America, and that the president wants to boost the economy for the benefit of all Americans, including African-Americans, particularly putting back to work those who fall into the traditionally unemployed category.
“In spite of a slightly lower-than-expected number (103,000 new jobs vs the expected 193,000), Johnson was optimistic, citing a January report that touted the lowest unemployment rate ever recorded for African Americans,” the Daily Caller explained about the latest government statistics.
In providing an overview of the direction of the U.S. economy, Johnson, 71, offered this assessment to the CNBC panel, The Hill reported.
“Business is very good. I believe that if you take into account the Trump tax cut, you take into account the drop in unemployment, and particularly unemployment for African-Americans, it’s the lowest it’s ever been in history. And you take into account the fact that interest rates are fairly stable, they will probably drift up, but so far…And I think the business community is committed to reinvest capital that they get from some of the tax advantages and that as a result of that, I think the economy is going to grow…when you put that all together, I believe that the economy is on a strong growth path.”
The BET co-founder implied that in an extremely polarized political environment, Trump foes are unwilling to acknowledge the systemic improvements in the economic outlook. With everyone seemingly choosing up ideological sides, the concept that we’re all in this together has “gone out the door,” he added.
In the CNBC sit-down, Robert Johnson revealed the president offered him a position in the Cabinet during the post-election transition period, but he turned it down simply because he didn’t want a government job. In response to a CNBC panelist, he also rejected the premise that Trump is a racist.
Whether you like or hate Trump, or find yourself somewhere in between, most economic indicators are up in the U.S. Among other factors, the stock market has hit record highs (although there have been some recent bumps in the road) while unemployment is heading downward, employers such as Apple are creating new jobs and facilities, and businesses apparently are or will be bringing manufacturing and cash back to the U.S. The business community has also praised the Trump administration for eliminating regulations that they insist were holding them back from expanding operations.
Watch the interview below with BET founder Robert Johnson on CNBC about the U.S. economy and draw your own conclusions.