As a driver of national attention and concern, the monthly jobs report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the beginning of each month, is a well-respected measure in gauging the economic progress of the country. Controversy arose the week of Oct.5 however, when, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch said the better-than-expected unemployment rate of 7.8 percent for September was falsified. “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers,” he said in a Tweet.
They "don't smell right when you consider where the economy is right now," Welch said to Fox News the same day he made his Twitter comment, creating a media firestorm. When asked to take the claims back by Chris Matthews later the same day on MSNBC’s "Hardball", Welch did not back down with his skepticism. He had "no evidence to prove [his claim], I just raised the question," he said in response to Matthews' prodding.
“I don’t want to take back one word in that tweet,” Welch added.
Welch took fire from a myriad of sources. Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist, wrote a New York Times op-ed that connected Welch to a larger narrative. Krugman said that members of the right cannot stand to see the economic situation of the country improve under President Barack Obama and are actively rooting for the country’s failure for political gain.
Jack Welch on Anderson Cooper 360
These forces, Krugman said, live in an intellectual bubble, and the steadily improving recovery – with burgeoning jobs numbers like those seen in September – threaten to unseat the political right's presumption that the president is to blame for the economy being in such dire straits. With the numbers improving, the members of this faction of the right can only tout conspiracy theories in their defense, Krugman said.
On "Meet the Press", on Oct. 7, NBC correspondent Chuck Todd clashed with former Republican Presidential nominee Newt Gingrich over Gingrich’s assertion that Welch’s Tweet was “worth looking at.” Todd, emotional, interrupted the former Speaker of the House and connected Welch’s Tweet to the overall distrust of government and its important institutions at large.
“We're corroding trust in our government in a way, and one time responsible people are doing to control it. And the idea that Donald Trump and Jack Welch, rich people with crazy conspiracy, can get traction on this, is a bad trend,” Todd said, singling out Welch and Trump as members of the group that Krugman also attacked.
After a week of being the center of the news cycle, Welch said that he would no longer contribute to "Fortune magazine" and "Reuters." Standing by his tweet, Welch said he only had one regret. “If I could write that Tweet again, I would have added a few question marks at the end, to make it clear I was raising a question,” Welch said in the Wall Street Journal. Punctuation, not the numbers, were at the heart of the story, according to Welch.