Saturday, November 1st, 2014

PunditFact fact-checks the Sunday Feb. 16 news shows

Ronald Reagan's 1985 inauguration took place in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. (U.S. Senate Photo Studio)
Ronald Reagan's 1985 inauguration took place in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. (U.S. Senate Photo Studio)

Panelists on ABC’s This Week asked for our help on Sunday sorting out a claim about the cold and the history of presidential inaugurations.

Host George Stephanopoulos asked pundits Jonathan Karl, Peggy Noonan, Alicia Menendez and Katrina vanden Heuvel, "Which president's inauguration was held in the Senate chambers because of a blizzard?" (Stephanopoulos tries to stump his guests each week with a bit of trivia.)

Noonan, a Wall Street Journal columnist, and Karl of ABC both answered Ronald Reagan. Menendez and vanden Heuvel had no clue.

"Reagan was very cold but that wasn't the one -- William Howard Taft," Stephanopoulos said.

While Menendez said that was going to be her guess, Noonan wanted to stick her answer.

"Reagan's second inaugural was moved inside the Capitol. It was. Because of a terrible snowstorm," Noonan said.

"PolitiFact time," vanden Heuvel jumped in.

It turns out Taft was the correct answer, but Noonan had a good point in bringing up Reagan.

Reagan’s second oath of office in 1985 took place in the Capitol rotunda. Noonan got the bit about a snowstorm wrong, but she certainly knew that the event was held inside -- she was one of Reagan’s main speechwriters.

According to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, event planners had good reason for the switch. "It was sunny, but bitter cold. Wind chill temperatures fell into the -10°F to -20°F range in the afternoon. Estimated noon temperature of 7°F."

Stephanopoulos, meanwhile, was completely right about Taft. It was March 1909, and a blizzard forced the ceremony inside, and it was held in the Senate chamber. The storm dropped 10 inches of snow and packed winds that toppled trees and telephone poles.

We rate Noonan’s claim Mostly True.

Over on CNN’s State of the Union, businessman Steve Forbes continued to debate whether Congress should raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Forbes, a former GOP presidential candidate, said raising the minimum wage could be bad for small businesses.

"Remember, in terms of minimum wage, they are often with businesses with small margins, and two-thirds of the people who start out in minimum wage are above the minimum wage within a year, when they get skills," said Forbes.

Forbes is slightly misreading the statistic.

A pair of Texas A&M professors looked at minimum wage workers from 1979 to 2012. The found that about 17 percent leave the labor force and another 6 percent become unemployed. Of those that remain working, 66 percent receive a raise within a year.

So it’s not that two-thirds of minimum wage workers earn more money the following year. It’s two-thirds of those who continue to work, or 51 percent of all minimum wage workers.

We rate Forbes’ claim Half True.

Times staff writers Jon Greenberg and Julie Kliegman contributed to this report. Aaron Sharockman is the editor of PunditFact.com.