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Nixon Pushes for Irregular Accelerated Release of Data; Shultz Resists

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Published on Oct 18, 2012

In the spring of 1971, the U.S. economy was recovering from a recession. Many thought the economy was too sluggish and President Nixon was anxious to counter that impression. In this White House tape of May 12, 1971, he pushes OMB director George Shultz to get the data released earlier than the official date (May 19), a week later. Shultz evidently is reluctant to have an irregular release of data on other than the previously scheduled date. He points to the lengthy process of getting a release completed and diverts the conversation to other data. But Nixon then suggests a leak of the data in which he (Nixon) would not be involved. Ultimately, Shultz prevails and the May 19 date was retained. Some detective work indicates that the release in question was new orders for durable goods. Ironically, when the data were released, the press did not think the numbers were particularly favorable or important. The other irony is that other tapes reveal that Nixon suspected government statisticians of manipulating official data against him. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQjiSQ.... There was no evidence for that belief and in fact this tape suggests that the President himself was the one open to manipulation.

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