The Bureau of Labor Statistics was created in 1884 by Chester Alan Arthur -- and now Jack Welch wants to see its birth certificate. President Arthur was a rock-ribbed Republican, a product of New York's Conkling political machine, but he was clearly a shifty liberal. You can tell by the eyes.
Welch thinks somebody's "cooking the numbers" on unemployment -- and if anyone should know about "cooking the numbers" it's Jack Welch. Manipulating information to influence an election? He should know about that too. There were well documented stories that he pressured staffers in NBC's newsroom -- who were also his employees -- to declare his friend George W. Bush the winner of on the night of the disputed 2000 election.
These crazy new charges making the right-wing rounds cry out for a new definition of the word "conservative": Someone who thinks the unemployment situation is even worse than anyone else does -- but wants to do less about it. And Welch's absurd, cackling, over-the-top comments may finally have stripped the veneer off the most carefully polished media image in corporate America.
It's more than a little ironic that Jack Welch, who agrees with Mitt Romney that "corporations are people," is pontificating about electoral matters. With its record of felony convictions, Welch's GE wouldn't even be allowed to vote.
With a management record like that, why did so many journalists give Welch a free pass?
It couldn't have hurt that he ran a television network.
Welch's now-infamous tweet said "Unbelievable jobs numbers ... these Chicago guys will do anything. Can't debate so change numbers."
The target of Welch's accusation is a bureau staffed by career civil servants who, as Chris Matthews pointed out in today's epic confrontation with Welch, have always been impervious to Presidential pressure -- even from Richard Nixon.
To believe Welch's charges, you'd have to believe that dozens of them would risk their careers now, that they'd all been bought off successfully without a single one of them running to the press or the authorities. You'd also have to believe that the Obama campaign was smart enough to pull this off, but not smart enough to figure out that being battered over jobs month after month was worse than waiting until the end of the election cycle to make an attention-grabbing fix.
Besides, if you could fix the numbers, wouldn't you really fix them?
There's something else Jack Welch should know: There's another jobs report coming out right before the election. If anyone was going to rig the numbers, that's when they'd do it.
People who aren't wearing tinfoil hats know that jobs numbers are often revised like this. Welch kept raving on Matthews' show as if gargantuan job gains had materialized all at once. They're actually the result of a long-term adjustment, and are only a tiny percentage of the actual figures for that period. This month's jobs numbers were right in line with expectations.
Now Welch is clearly worried that he's damaged his well-cultivated reputation with this remark. He has. He seems concerned that he appears foolish, conspiratorial, reckless, and cynical. He does. So he tried to walk the charge back today, saying that he was only "raising questions" and wasn't "accusing anybody of anything."