The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 11/15/12, 7:00 PM ET

Rewriting a FOX News conspiracy theory

The Labor Department released its latest jobless claims report showing a rise in those filing for unemployment insurance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. But...

O’Donnell rewrites ‘Fox News conspiracy’ on Sandy and jobs report

Updated

msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell called out “the conspiracy theorists at Fox News” for pushing job trutherism to a new level. The Labor Department released its latest jobless claims report showing a rise in those filing for unemployment insurance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. But instead of looking at the facts, said O’Donnell, FOX hosts wondered why these numbers came after the election.

Already suspicious of the Labor Department, the Fox News hosts went after Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and her department and questioned the Labor Department’s findings.

After a six-minute debate over whether or not the numbers presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics were accurate (something these hosts didn’t question under a Republican president) the Fox hosts concluded that “the Department of Labor is getting sketchier and sketchier with each one of these numbers.”

The Fox morning show attempted to explain to their viewers why the number of first-time jobless claims increased the week after the election, despite the widely reported stories and today’s numbers attributing those claims to the devastating damage from the storm. Eric Bolling, a Fox News and FOX Business Network anchor, presented his analysis under one thesis:

Eric Bolling: There’s gonna be something. There’s gonna be an adjustment, they’re saying this has something to do with Sandy. I’m sure, because the number is so much higher than expected.

Steve Doocy: You have been suspicious of the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics before.


The hosts continued to debate these numbers:

Eric Bolling: This is the first week after the election.

Gretchen Carlson: That’s the first thing everyone’s going to think about.

Eric Bolling: Does anyone find it odd that the weeks leading into the election, the number went down…

Brian Kilmeade: Everyone finds it odd…

Brian Kilmeade: Now, Sandy. How could you possibly say that that has anything to do with first-time jobless claims? When a storm hits you get fired?

Eric Bolling: The Dept. of Labor is getting sketchier and sketchier with each one of these numbers…


Twice in its own report the Labor Department cited an increase in claims due to Hurricane Sandy. The very first sentence from the Associated Press’s wire story at 8:33 a.m. this morning read, “Superstorm Sandy drives US weekly unemployment aid applications up to 439,000.” And a later story from the AP quotes:

“The Labor Department stating that weekly applications increased by 78,000 mostly because a large number of applications were filed in states damaged by the storm. People can claim unemployment benefits…and if their workplaces close they don’t get paid. The storm has affected the claims data for the past two weeks and may distort reports for another two weeks, the department has said.”


Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out the reason the Fox News hosts cannot fathom the increase of jobless claims:

“As I’ve told you before, most people who live and work in New York City have never been to Staten Island. The conspiracy theorists at FOX News who can’t figure out why the jobless claims suddenly went up have obviously never been to Staten Island. Certainly none of them could have been there since Hurricane Sandy.”


O’Donnell witnessed the tragedy in Staten Island, seeing hat those statistics in the report were not just numbers, but actual human beings who now do not have homes or jobs:

“None of them could have walked those streets of death and destruction out there the way I did a few days the hurricane and the way President Obama did today, and then wonder: ‘Why did jobless claims go up after the election?’ – which also happens to be after the hurricane. These same people who have never had an occasion to doubt the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ work under a Republican President, these same people who have no idea how the Bureau of Labor Statistics arrives at any of its statistics about anything–including jobless claims–these same people suddenly believe that they are better estimators of jobless claims than the career professionals who work the numbers in the Bureau of Labor Statistics under both Democrat and Republican presidents.”


Superstorm Sandy has left millions of residents and businesses in the dark, some still without electricity. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo estimated the storm caused $50 billion in damage and economic loss, $33 billion of that in New York alone. Still, Fox News kept busy questioning the numbers, even though the AP story is posted on their own website.

O’Donnell asked the Fox News hosts in the Rewrite:

“Nothing in the devastation brought by Hurricane Sandy could explain an increase in jobless claims in FOX News world where they were so quick to try to rewrite the Bureau of Labor Statistics with their own wild imaginations. How sealed off from reality can you be? How sealed off from New York City can you be in the FOX News studio in the middle of Manhattan? How sealed off from human suffering can you be?”

O'Donnell rewrites 'Fox News conspiracy' on Sandy and jobs report

Updated