Welch: Tweet Should Have Included Question Mark

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 6 2012 12:32 PM

Jack Welch: I Should Have Added a Question Mark to Tweet About Friday's Jobs Numbers

Jack Welch says the latest job numbers seem "implausible"

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former GE CEO Jack Welch sort of wishes he could go back in time to edit his now-infamous tweet that strongly suggested President Obama’s campaign managed to somehow manipulate the job numbers released Friday that showed a decrease in the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent. That’s not to say he disagrees with what he wrote. Welch just thinks he should have made it clear he wanted to imply something, not state it outright, which obviously makes sense considering pretty much everyone agrees it’s a ridiculous assertion, as the Associated Press points out.

When CNN’s Anderson Cooper questioned him on what evidence he had to write what he did, Welch acknowledged that “A question mark would have been better,” before quickly adding that, “I stand by that these numbers have to be examined.” (Transcript available here.)

Welch, who frequently criticizes Obama’s administration, wrote early Friday on Twitter: “Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers.”


When CNN’s Ali Velshi pushed Welch on the inaccuracy of the tweet, Welch fired back: “I should have had a question mark, Ali, at the back of it, let’s face it, OK?”

Velshi started out saying that Welch is “the best CEO in America” before harshly criticizing him: “To say something like this is like Donald Trump saying that president Obama is not an American citizen without any proof.”

Throughout the CNN interview Welch emphasized that what he was questioning was how “implausible” the numbers seemed considering they amounted to the “highest numbers of household employment since June of 1983, the biggest year of the Reagan recovery.” But he also was careful to emphasize that he was “not accusing anybody of anything.”

The New York Times’ Joe Nocera writes that while it’s “ludicrous” to suggest that “a handful of career bureaucrats” would manipulate unemployment data, it is true that there’s “something a little strange about the way the country derives its employment statistics.” But the lesson in this questioning of the jobs data needs to be that it’s a bit “absurd” to think that a presidential race could be decided on the unemployment rate. It’s not just because the short-term numbers aren’t really reliable, but also because no president has such a strong grip on the economy.

“There is rough justice in the way things are playing out,” writes Nocera. “Having spent the last year wrongly blaming the president for high unemployment, Republicans can only stand by helplessly as the unemployment rate goes down at the worst possible moment for them.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.