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Truth-O-Meter's business is business

By Willoughby Mariano
Published on Sunday, June 19th, 2011 at 6:00 a.m.

From the pizza trade to sports management, the Truth-O-Meter was up to all sorts of business last week.

We began with a fact check on the corporate track record of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain at Godfather’s Pizza. We followed with checks on wages in Georgia’s agriculture business and economic recovery data.

To wrap up the workweek, we covered crime and the business of football. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, welcome to the Truth-O-Meter. 

Want to comment on our findings? Hit the "like" button on our Facebook page to join the discussion. You can also follow us on Twitter.


Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain: "When I became president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, it was supposed to go bankrupt. … We turned it around with common-sense business principles."
                                                    
Cain says his track record running Godfather’s Pizza, a chain that once billed itself as "the cure for the pizza emergency," shows he has the ability to run the country. The 620-store business was on the brink of bankruptcy when he arrived in 1986, he says, and he turned it around.

A thorough review of business records and interviews with executives who worked with Cain show that the chain was considered troubled when he arrived.

It's a slight exaggeration to say it was about to go bankrupt. But Cain's performance as CEO is widely regarded as a success.

We rate this statement Mostly True.

Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black: Workers who pick produce in Georgia’s fields can make $12 to $18 an hour.
   
Recent talk about a shortage of workers in Georgia’s fields left your PolitiFact team wondering whether we should consider a career picking cucumbers.
   
The work may be hard, but if you believe Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, the industry pays solid wages.

Some farmworkers "can" earn $12 to $18 an hour as Black said. Most, however, do not. Information from state and federal agencies, the director of a farmworker aid group, and Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters shows wages are closer to $10 an hour or less.
   
Black’s statement leaves out key details and takes things out of context. This is our definition of Half True.

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich: If today's economy was rebounding at the rate of the "Reagan recovery," it would have created the equivalent of 25 million new jobs and raised federal revenue by $800 billion a year.   
                                        
When the moderator of Monday’s Republican presidential debate in Manchester, N.H., asked Gingrich whether his party’s voters were wrong for supporting a tax hike on the wealthy to lower the debt, the former U.S. House speaker said he asked the wrong question.

The real issue is whether raising taxes on higher-income Americans would create jobs, Gingrich said. He cited job and federal revenue growth figures under President Ronald Reagan, who cut the top individual income tax rate.

We checked the data and calculated how they would translate in the current economy. The numbers show Gingrich got very close on the jobs number, but was way off on revenue. We’ll call it Half True.


Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis: "Do this research ... watch how much crime picks up if you take away [football]."

The 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens offered the above prediction if the National Football League lockout continues through this season.

Lewis, to be clear, was talking about fans committing crime, not players. As some Atlantans remember, Lewis has a criminal history in this town.

In 2000, he and some friends got into an argument at a Buckhead nightclub with two men who were fatally stabbed. Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to probation.

Crime experts and other news outlets have taken the Ray Lewis challenge and found no substantive support for his claim. Our calculations didn’t support his prediction, either. For now, we’re throwing a flag on it. False.

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Researchers: Angie Drobnic Holan, Willoughby Mariano, Eric Stirgus

Names in this article: Gary Black, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ray Lewis

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