November 19, 2013

Rifle through as many investigative newspaper stories as you can stomach. Count how many times the reporters attempt to refer their findings to the inspector general of a federal agency.

An IG referral is just one of the passages in today’s New York Post story on tainted unemployment numbers that jumped out at the Erik Wemple Blog. Under the byline of John Crudele, the New York Post alleged that the Census Bureau, which generates the data for the monthly unemployment reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “‘faked’ 2012 election jobs report.” Two years before the election, reports Crudele, Census caught an employee making up data that went into the report, and the shenanigans “escalated” during the critical months of the 2012 faceoff between incumbent President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney.

The story has sat on the Internet for nearly a day and has undergone some scrutiny.

 

That’s August 2011. To be fair to the New York Post, that worker, Julius Buckmon, does not appear to be the “knowledgeable source” who insists that the fake stuff continued into 2012.

The Atlantic notes that the Census-generated data on unemployment largely track with data generated from other sources, calling into question any real-life impact from the malfeasance identified by Crudele.

Now for the IG dimension. Here’s how Crudele articulates his appeal: “Last week I offered to give all the information I have, including names, dates and charges to Labor’s inspector general. I’m waiting to hear back from Labor.”

A spokesman for the Labor Department’s IG tells the Erik Wemple Blog that the office “learned about it today and is reviewing the information contained in the article.” So does that mean that the IG doesn’t have a file from Crudele or what? “This is all we can say at this point,” says the spokesman.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.