Back when Massachusetts’ Jack Welch was in charge of General Electric, anyone questioning the integrity of the company’s products or services could expect a fusillade of rebuttals. But when Welch, last Friday, made the incendiary claim on Twitter — without offering any evidence — that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ unemployment report was corrupted and that “these Chicago guys will do anything,” he seemed dumbfounded by the chorus of condemnations that followed.
At first, Welch suggested that he should have added question marks to his tweet. Then he went into full defense mode. He quit his Fortune column because the magazine covered the furor over his comments. He wrongly claimed that former Obama aide Austan Goolsbee had once raised similar complaints (Goolsbee had questioned the methodology of the unemployment report, not the integrity of the Bureau of Labor Statistics). Finally, he issued a Wall Street Journal op-ed comparing the Obama administration’s response to his toxic tweet to Soviet oppression.