Fox Figures Use Dubious NY Post Story To Reignite Unemployment Conspiracy Theories


Fox News' Sean Hannity and Eric Bolling seized on a dubious, anonymously sourced report to revive the conspiracy theory that the Bureau of Labor Statistics manipulated unemployment data to help re-elect President Obama.

On November 18, the New York Post cited an anonymous Census Bureau employee to suggest that employment numbers were changed while President Obama was seeking reelection in 2012.

On the November 19 edition of his syndicated radio show, Hannity claimed the report proved that he was right to claim, in October 2012, that unemployment numbers were "altered for political gain." 

On the November 19 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling also claimed the Post report proved his BLS conspiracy theories:

But not only was the New York Post's report thinly sourced to begin with, CNBC reported today that Julius Buckmon, the Census worker that allegedly fabricated data, has not worked at the Census Bureau since 2011, long before the unemployment report that Fox accused the Obama administration of manufacturing. Business Insider's Brett LoGiurato spoke with a Census spokesperson who confirmed that Buckmon has not worked for the agency since 2011 and that Buckmon "was an employee who was willfully disobeying Census procedures and disobeying the law."

Furthermore, the unnamed source provided no evidence that the September 2012 unemployment rate was either unusual or manipulated. Business Insider's Joe Wiesenthal explained:

The allegation is interesting. It claims that surveyers conducting the Household Survey -- which is what establishes the unemployment rate -- were pressured to fake surveys in order to fill in data gaps, when it was difficult to get adequate response rates on its surveys.

 It also claims that instances of bad data being filled in is something that was going back to 2010 -- in other words, this is not a story about the infamous September 2012 jobs report. There's also no allegation here that there was pressure to manipulate the number up. The only claim is that there was pressure to fill in gaps where there was a shortfall in the number of survey respondents.

There may be more information to come to light on this, but at least this particular report doesn't jibe with Welch's claim that something unusual happened with the September report to artificially push the number down.

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