The birther issue – the preposterous idea that President Obama was not born in the United States – was finally put to rest, but that has not prevented conservative conspiracy buffs from seeing a plot behind the falling unemployment numbers.
Conservatives, led by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have been pounding Obama for maintaining an unemployment rate above 8 percent. They cited federal Bureau of Labor statistics to support their claim.
Yet, when that same source placed the August number at 7.8 percent, they are trying to persuade the public that it is all part of a liberal conspiracy to re-elect Obama.
Impossible to rig
Joe Nocera, a New York Times business columnist, observed, “It is completely implausible to me that they would actively rig the thing to help Obama. The guys are green eye-shaded career bureaucrats who have no particular vested interest one way or another in who wins the presidential election.
“[The numbers] come out of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you are going to cook them, how exactly would you go about it; it is pretty implausible that the career bureaucrats at the Bureau would cook the books for Obama. Everybody likes a conspiracy theory, but it is hard to understand how they would do it.”
But conspiracy buffs don’t let facts get in the way of a good conspiracy theory.
Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, a Republican, has joined the conspiracy camp. After the latest job report, he tweeted, “Unbelievable jobs numbers. These Chicago guys will do anything…can’t debate so change numbers.”
Under attack for his unsubstantiated assertion, Welch tried to defend his comment by saying he should have used a question mark rather than a comma at the end of his sentence, as if that would have made a difference.
If there were a conspiracy, it failed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that they had understated official U.S. employment over the previous two months. If they were plotting to help President Obama, they did a poor job.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine.