Hearken back, if you can, to the early days of October – or as I call it, Funkyzeit mit Romney.
Barack Obama was coming off a lackluster first debate that let Mitt Romney back into a race he’d seemingly dropped out of. Romney’s post-debate ‘bounce’ was just beginning to show up in the polls. The president was desperate for some good news.
And on October 5, he got some: the Labor Department announced a drop in the jobless rate from 8.1 to 7.8 in September. The drop below the 8% threshold was significant, and provided a shot of energy to the Obama campaign. As the New York Times put it:
Mr. Romney was deprived of a favorite line of attack, mocking the president for “43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent.”
Of course, you probably remember the response on the right.
Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can't debate so change numbers—
Jack Welch (@jack_welch) October 05, 2012
And it wasn’t just Jack Welch with his crazy conspiracy theory. Chances are you won’t click on that tweet (why would you?), so I’ll tell you: it was retweeted over 5,000 times. The Huffington Post compiled some of the other responses (you can skim this huge block of text to get the idea, or just take my word for it):
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) joined the trutherism on his Facebook page. “I agree with former GE CEO Jack Welch, Chicago style politics is at work here. Somehow by manipulation of data we are all of a sudden below 8 percent unemployment, a month from the Presidential election. This is Orwellian to say the least and representative of Saul Alinsky tactics from the book “Rules for Radicals”- a must read for all who want to know how the left strategize.”
The right-leaning Americans for Limited Government released a statement saying, “Either the Federal Reserve, which has its fingers on the pulse of every element of the economy, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics manufacturing survey report are grievously wrong or the number used to calculate the unemployment rate are wrong, or worse manipulated. Given that these numbers conveniently meet Obama’s campaign promises one month before the election, the conclusions are obvious.”
Economic journalist Stuart Varney said on Fox News, “There is widespread distrust of this report.”
Conn Carroll, of the Washington Examiner, tweeted, “I don’t think BLS cooked numbers. I think a bunch of Dems lied about getting jobs. That would have same effect.”
Rick Santelli, the CNBC media personality, yelled, “I told you they’d get it under 8 percent — they did! You can let America decide how they got there!”
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC primarily backed by GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, launched a robocall attacking vulnerable House Democrats over the figures.
And while many of these sources are hardly mainstream conservative voices, the Wall Street Journal did publish a Jack Welch editorial even after he admitted on-air to Chris Matthews that he had absolutely no evidence for his allegations:
Unfortunately for those who would like me to pipe down, the 7.8% unemployment figure released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) last week is downright implausible. And that’s why I made a stink about it.
And the front page of FOXNews.com briefly looked like this: