Economics reporters downplay criticism of BLS
by Chris Roush
Joe Strupp of Media Matters for America writes Friday that the nation’s top economics reporters don’t believe that the Bureau of Labor Statistics manipulated unemployment numbers to help President Obama’s re-election.
Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch made such an assertion Friday on his Twitter account.
Strupp writes, “Kevin Hall, McClatchy’s national economic correspondent and president of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, called Welch’s claim ‘mindboggling.’
“‘This is a guy who is a business guru, he’s a lion of the industry. 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 said. ‘He is brash and outspoken, but what came out today is pretty outrageous.’
“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.’
“Noting the political influence on the claims, Hall said: ‘This is the silly season, but there used to be some limit to what you’d say, some line you didn’t cross and that is why this is so unfortunate. If you look at countries that do manipulate their numbers like China, we’ve had long-established practices of many, many years and no one has ever contested this as somehow fraud-ridden.’”
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