CNBC on-air editor Rick Santelli, who is credited with helping to launch the tea party movement, flew into a rage on Tuesday after he was asked to defend his apparent suggestion that the most recent jobs report had been doctored to help President Barack Obama get re-elected.
Former GE CEO Jack Welch on Friday spawned a "jobs truthers" front after he tweeted that an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent was "unbelievable," and added that the "Chicago guys" in Obama's campaign headquarters "will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers."
"I would never send a tweet like Jack Welch and I respect Jack," Santelli said on Friday. "That's why last month, I said that it would be below 8 percent right before the election. That's why I said it. I don't say things I can't prove, that was my prediction. I will leave it at that."
"I can't prove that it was fudged," the CNBC on-air editor insisted, refusing to distance himself from conservative skepticism about the jobs report. "I do find that that's the common question on the trading floor. It is what it is."
During a Monday panel on CNBC's Squawk Box, senior economics reporter Steve Liesman noted that no economists "are saying this number was cooked or otherwise the subject of a conspiracy. They say it happens and it's not out of line with what's been going on, for example, in the payroll numbers."
"All I can tell you is, there was no doubt in my mind a month ago that it would be under 8 percent!" Santelli shouted. "There was no doubt in my mind five minutes before the number that it would be under 8 percent! Take it any way you want!"
"Rick, what you're implying with your comment...," Steve Liesman said before being interrupted by a raging Santelli.
"I'm not implying anything!" he continued shouting from the trading floor. "And it turned out that way! I'm a market whisperer!"
"Why say it?" Liesman asked.
"Because it was true!" Santelli yelled at the camera. "And I like people to get the benefit of my 32 years in the market! There was no doubt it would be under 8, it is under 8! ... Draw your own conclusions, Steve! Connect the dots!"
"I am connecting the dots," Liesman replied. "I'm asking you to be honest about the dot connecting that you're implying."
"I'm honest!" Santelli screamed, even louder this time. "[I said,] under 8, it was under 8! What else do you want? What else do you need? A fact is a fact is a fact! ... If you are looking for a conspiracy -- and I'm not -- you would only need to change certain numbers!"
"There's been the last three Septembers, they've had this number surge," Liesman calmly explained. "If this is a conspiracy, Rick, it goes back three years."