Chris Matthews asked the former General Electric CEO to explain where the accusation came from. Welch said:
“All I can talk about are some of the numbers. We had 600,000 government jobs added in the last 2 months. We had 873,000 jobs by a household survey which is a total estimate from 50,000 phone calls. Of those 600,000 were temporary workers. Chris, these numbers are all a series of assumptions. Tons of assumptions. And it just seems somewhat coincidental that the month before the election, the numbers go one tenth of a point below where they were when the president started, although I don’t see anything in the economy that says these surges are true.”
Matthews voiced his suspicion that Welch’s assertions are based in political bias against Obama, not economic concern. He asked Welch what evidence he has that the Obama administration got to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and doctored data. Welch confirmed he hadn’t spoken to any economists, analysts, or accounting specialists:
“I have no evidence to prove that, I just raised the question.”
Matthews wasn’t satisfied; accusing a presidential administration of manipulating data is “Nixon stuff,” that goes beyond raising a question. He gave Welch one last opportunity to walk back the claim. Welch declined, “I don’t take back any part of that tweet.”
Former Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Keith Hall dismissed Welch's claim on Friday, telling The Wall Street Journal it is "impossible to manipulate labor survey data." Leading economist Jared Bernstein called Welch’s accusation “outrageous;” Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis dubbed it “ludicrous.”
UPDATE at 11:09 p.m. ET: In a later appearance on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, Welch said “I should have put a question mark on the end of that [tweet], let’s face it,” Welch said.
*NBC Universal, the parent company of NBC News and msnbc, is a joint venture of Comcast and General Electric since 2011. Jack Welch was General Electric’s CEO until 2001.