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Wednesday, June 24, 2020
MRC Forgets It Used to Peddle Conspiracy Theories About Employment Stats Being Fudged
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Joseph Vazquez complained in a June 5 item:

President Donald Trump’s economy proved it’s not going down without a fight. An excellent new jobs report has Keynesian New York Times economist Paul Krugman babbling about a Trump conspiracy on Twitter to make sense of it.

CNBC reported that “Employment stunningly rose by 2.5 million in May and the jobless rate declined to 13.3%,” based on Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’s (BLS) report. The report “was far better than economists had been expecting and indicated that an economic turnaround could be close at hand.” Krugman didn’t appear to know what to do with these numbers, except try to speculate the “possibility” that the Trump administration has “gotten to the BLS” to fudge the numbers. 



Then came the kicker: Krugman floated a conspiracy theory, suggesting that the Trump administration could have coerced the BLS to produce fraudulent data: 


Even the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under former President Barack Obama Jason Furman took issue with Krugman’s conspiracy theory. Furman said in a retweet to Krugman: “You can 100% discount the possibility that Trump got to the BLS. Not 98% discount, not 99.9% discount, but 100% discount.”

Vazquez liked this tweet so muchhe put it on a list of the "Top 10 WORST Paul Krugman Tweets of 2020 … So Far."

Just one problem: the MRC had no problem pushing conspiracy theories about unemployment numbers when Barack Obama was president.

As we noted, in a March 2017 NewsBusters post, Tom Blumer -- who would later be canned from NewsBusters for putting white nationalist links in his items, though the NewsBusters editors who allowed them to be published in the first place apparently went unpunished -- accused outgoing BLS leader Erica Groshen of fudging unemployment numbers during her four-year tenure:

During Groshen's reign, as the reported unemployment rate dropped from 8.0 percent to 4.8 percent during her term, there was reason to believe that BLS may have changed its criteria for whether a person was in the labor force and began excluding more people who were legitimately looking for work. Doing so in a manner inconsistent with previous practices would artificially reduce the officially reported unemployment rate.

Groshen has been gone for six weeks. With new leadership, it's at least possible that Team Trump has gained confidence in the BLS data, and has had the opportunity to correct any major flaws which the previous director might have allowed into its processes.

Blumer provided no evidence to back up his accusation.

Blumer also acused Groshen of having "ties to decidedly left-wing political groups," but the Daily Caller article he cited as evidence for this noted only that she co-authored an article "urging an end to small businesses’ exemption from expensive federal regulations," and that her husband donated $20 to "the far-left Working Families Party."

Posted by Terry K. at 7:59 PM EDT

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