Jack Welch quits Fortune magazine after jobs data blowup

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“Welch said he will no longer contribute to Fortune following critical coverage of the former CEO of General Electric, saying he would get better ‘traction’ elsewhere,” Fortune senior editor Stephen Gandel wrote Tuesday. “Following the story, Welch sent an e-mail to Reuters' Steve Adler and [Fortune managing editor Andy] Serwer saying that he and his wife Suzy, who have jointly written for Reuters and Fortune in the past, were ‘terminating our contract’ and will no longer be sending our ‘material to Fortune.' "

Welch sparked a firestorm last week when he said September’s unemployment data had been rigged by the Obama campaign for the president’s political benefit.

“Unbelievable jobs numbers...these Chicago guys will do anything...can't debate so change numbers,” Welch tweeted after the jobs data was released. He later told the Wall Street Journal: "I wasn't kidding" about the tweet.

The unemployment rate fell below 8 percent in September to 7.8 percent, providing welcome news for President Obama in the wake of his widely panned debate performance. 

The economy added only 114,00 jobs, yet the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1 percent to 7.8. The report revised jobs figures up in July and August, and it showed more people are now entering the workforce. 


Welch was followed by Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who wrote on his Facebook page that the data had been manipulated, although neither offered any proof for their claims.

“Somehow by manipulation of data we are all of a sudden below 8 percent unemployment, a month from the Presidential election,” West wrote. “This is Orwellian to say the least and representative of Saul Alinsky tactics from the book 'Rules for Radicals' — a must read for all who want to know how the left strategize.”

Steve Forbes, the editor in chief of Forbes magazine, also went on Twitter to say he agreed with Welch.


But on Monday, Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer told MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" that Welch was wrong.

“I think it's exactly the opposite of what Jack Welch is saying,” Serwer said. “Things are actually improving.”

“CNNMoney, which shares content with Fortune.com, ran a story on Friday covering Welch's tweet,” Gandel continued. “The piece said that even conservative economists thought Welch was wrong to question the jobs numbers. On Tuesday, Fortune.com ran a story detailing Welch's record as a job destroyer. GE lost nearly 100,000 jobs during the 20 years in which Welch ran the company.”

Welch is a prominent businessman and is not shy about sharing his political views. Earlier in the campaign cycle, he urged Romney to get tougher on the Obama campaign, saying presidential politics has “no room for amateurs.”

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said she was “insulted” by charges that the Obama administration manipulated September’s jobs report to boost the president’s reelection chances. She said the claims were “ludicrous.”

"I'm insulted when I hear that, because we have a very professional civil service organization where you have top, top economists," Solis said on CNBC last week.
 
"These are our best trained and best skilled individuals working at the BLS. It's really ludicrous to hear that kind of statement."