The Republican echo chamber has shifted into high gear in denouncing the favorable jobs figures announced Friday, impugning the integrity of the Bureau of Labor Statistics by implying that the fix was in. The GOP’s cheap shot volley reeked, not only of being orchestrated, but pre-packaged.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews did a solid job of outing Jack Welch’s partisan hackery. Also, Media Matters for America’s Joe Strupp has a revealing round-up, “Eight Veteran Economics Reporters Dismiss “Implausible” Jobs Numbers Conspiracy,” which includes this excerpt:
…Experienced financial journalists at outlets like The New York Times and The Economist say the contention that the new unemployment rate is fraudulent is not based on any valid proof.
“It is completely implausible to me that they would actively rig the thing to help Obama,” said Joe Nocera, New York Times business columnist. “The guys are green eye-shaded career bureaucrats who have no particular vested interest one way or another in who wins the presidential election.”…Nocera was referring to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which compiles the unemployment rates and has no political ties to the White House…”They come out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you are going to cook them, how exactly would you go about it, it is pretty implausible that the career bureaucrats at the Bureau would cook the books for Obama”…
Jesse Eisinger, senior reporter for finance at ProPublica and a former seven-year Wall Street Journal reporter, agreed…”This is complete fantasy,” he said about the claims of political influence. “It is yet another one of these right-wing denialist ideas. They’re perennial ideas that government statistics are manipulated…These are done by reputable civil servants. There is almost no way that these numbers could be manipulated for political gain. It doesn’t hold up in any way you think about it.”
Martin Wolk, executive business editor for NBC News Digital, also called such claims baseless…”They do the best to present those claims honestly. I have never seen a pattern where the numbers consistently favor one party or another. I would defy anyone to find a pattern in those numbers that is politically motivated.”
…Kevin Hall, McClatchy’s national economic correspondent and president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, called Welch’s claim “mindboggling.”…”For him to say something as outrageous as this without any substantiation, is kind of, well, my first thought was maybe his [Twitter] account was hacked…Hall also said such claims against the Bureau of Labor Statistics impugn the reputation of a very trusted agency…”It is really unfortunate because people already have distrust of government and politicians, and to take something that has been done for 70 years and is pretty set in stone and allege without any substantiation that it is somehow corrupt is pretty bad,” Hall said. “If you understand how these statistics are compiled there is nothing new that is being done here. These are government economists.”
For Greg Ip, U.S economics editor for The Economist, manipulation of the statistics is not a valid claim…”I have been covering these reports for well over a decade,” Ip wrote in an email. “I cannot recall a single instance of the data being manipulated by anyone outside the BLS or even a credible accusation of it. The process, in my experience, is carried out with excruciating professionalism. BLS makes mistakes but they are of the nature of what happens when trying to measure a gigantic economy with precision. I would add that it’s funny to raise accusations of manipulation now. Where were they when the numbers the morning after Obama’s convention speech were horrible?”
Steve Pearlstein, a Pulitzer Prize-winning business and economics columnist for The Washington Post, compared such claims to Nixonian paranoia…”Richard Nixon was the last person who would claim that the Bureau of Labor Statistics was a political organization, and he was president at the time,” Pearlstein said. “There is no evidence of it, these are just professional people who go to work every day, do their job and go home and are proud of the fact that they do their job and don’t take any political direction from people.”..He called allegations of manipulation “a slur and a libel on hardworking, dedicated and competent public servants.”
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the GOP, its string-pullers and media lapdogs want the economy to fail, so Romney can eradicate what’s left of federal regulations and worker protection.