Legendary businessman, former General Electric CEO, and Bureau of Labor Statistics data skeptic Jack Welch on Tuesday terminated his contribution agreements with both Thomson Reuters and the market-related outlet Fortune following intense criticism he received for questioning last week’s jobs report.
“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,” writes Fortune senior editor Stephen Gandel.
You might recall the tweet that caused Welch to be labeled a BLS “truther“:
Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers
— Jack Welch (@jack_welch) October 5, 2012
Not long after that, the former GE CEO was met with criticism and support from both sides.
“I agree with former GE CEO Jack Welch, Chicago style politics is at work here,” Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) said on his Facebook page. “Somehow by manipulation of data we are all of a sudden below 8 percent unemployment, a month from the presidential election.”
And former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich seemed to throw his support behind Welch:
It rings true at a deeper level, without getting into the conspiracy of it. What’s interesting is you have a president who after four years — and by the way his last budget got zero votes in the U.S. Senate, not a single Democrat voted for his last budget.
But then you had the other side of the debate.
“I think it’s exactly the opposite of what Jack Welch is saying,” said Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer during a Monday broadcast of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “Things are actually improving.
Meanwhile, POLITICO dismissed Welch’s tweet as nothing more than “trutherism” and Fortune.com published a story detailing “Welch’s record as a job destroyer,” Gandel notes, adding that GE lost nearly 100,000 jobs while Welch was in in control.
“I never put myself out there as an employment agency,” Welch told Fortune.
Many speculate Welch decided to sever ties with Reuters and Fortune because of the negative coverage:
Following the story, Welch sent an e-mail to Reuters’ Steve Adler and 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.”
Reuters’ story about Welch’s tweet quoted money manager and blogger Barry Ritholtz, who said Welch’s comments were laughable. Reuters wrote that Ritholtz comments were referring to allegations that Welch regularly manipulated GE’s earnings during his tenure as CEO in order to best Wall Street profit estimates.
Fortune tried to contact Welch to find out if the resignation was related to our reporting of his tweet, but Welch didn’t return our phone call.
Here’s a copy of his letter of resignation:
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- Rep. Allen West Backs Jack Welch’s Jobs Report Accusation: ‘I Agree…Chicago Style Politics Is at Work Here’
Front page photo courtesy the AP. This story has been updated.