Facts Matter: Reagan did take his jacket off in Oval Office

  • President Ronald Reagan wore a suit and tie in this Oval Office portrait but didn't always wear a jacket to enter the room, though the false claim has been repeated by many.

    President Ronald Reagan wore a suit and tie in this Oval Office portrait but didn't always wear a jacket to enter the room, though the false claim has been repeated by many. Associated Press

  • A Facebook page falsely claimed a pile of used needles was collected in "Democrat-run San Francisco," but it was from a volunteer effort in Everett, Washington.

    A Facebook page falsely claimed a pile of used needles was collected in "Democrat-run San Francisco," but it was from a volunteer effort in Everett, Washington.

 
 

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, during a Wednesday morning interview about a possible run for president, repeated a false rumor about Ronald Reagan that has been around since at least 1998, according to Snopes.com.

MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski asked Schultz, who is running as an independent, to name his favorite Republican president.

"I have great respect for Ronald Reagan," Schultz said. "Ronald Reagan never took his jacket off in the Oval Office in eight years. Why? Because of his respect for the dignity of the office."

Although the majority of images in the Ronald Reagan Library photo galleries show the 40th U.S. president wearing a suit and tie in the Oval Office, a handful of pictures show him in casual attire, Snopes said. The president was photographed working at the executive desk in polo shirts, long-sleeve flannels, short-sleeve, open-collar shirts and a sweatsuit.

The idea Reagan never entered the office unless he was wearing a jacket has been repeated over the years, Snopes said.

Ken Langone, co-founder of Home Depot, in a 2011 criticism of President Barack Obama being unpresidential, said, "Ronald Reagan would never go into the Oval Office without his jacket on -- that's how much he revered the presidency."

Even Ronald Reagan's son Michael Reagan forwarded the idea in 1998.

"My father, Ronald Reagan, held the presidency in such honor and reverence that he was never in the Oval Office without a coat and tie," he said.

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Harris off on economic claims

During a campaign-launch event last week after announcing a 2020 run for president, California Sen. Kamala Harris said the current economy isn't keeping up with inflation.

"Our economy today is not working for working people," the Democratic congresswoman told the Oakland, California, crowd.

For all but one segment of the population, however, her claim in not accurate, according to PolitiFact.com. While paychecks haven't soared over the past 40 years, wages have kept up with inflation.

Median wage growth since 1979 has fluctuated but workers saw a gain of 6 percent above inflation over the period and an increase of nearly 8 percent since 2014, following a recession, PolitiFact said.

"Paychecks are keeping up with inflation," Jed Kolko, chief economist for the jobs site Indeed.com., told PolitiFact.

Harris is correct about one group of workers: lower-paid men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Inflation-adjusted hourly wages for male workers age 18-64 at or below the median pay range have declined since 1973, according to PolitiFact.

Harris' campaign offered studies to support her assertion but the data was for particular segments of time and did not reflect the overall trend, PolitiFact said.

Needles not from San Francisco

An image circulating recently on social media shows a collection of syringes piled up on a blue tarp, claiming they were "found lying around" the streets of San Francisco. The photo is captioned, "This is the promise of socialist policies."

The photo was actually taken October 2017 after a volunteer group organized the cleanup of a homeless camp near Everett, Washington, <URL destination="https://www.apnews.com/ef8336c4451e468faf7b6ebb7222cf45">according to The Associated Press.

</URL>The Hand Up Project, a nonprofit group that seeks to get people off the streets, spent days cleaning up garbage and thousands of heroin needles in a section of woods frequented by drug addicts, according to an Oct. 24, 2017, article published by The Daily Herald of Everett, Washington.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The uncredited photo on social media is similar to photos taken by Everett journalist Caleb Hutton, who covered the event. Hutton told AP the images were from the cleanup project aimed at getting homeless people into sober housing.

The Try Decaf Facebook page posted the photo in December with the fake caption, "Needles found on the streets of Democrat run San Francisco." It has been shared thousands of times with the false claim, according to TruthOrFiction.com.

Turtle mountain doesn't exist

A photo of a mountain that looks like the face of a turtle was shared on the Amazing Nature Facebook page last month.

But turtle mountain doesn't exist, according to Snopes.com. The image is digitally altered artwork made up of at least two photos.

The base of the turtle mountain picture, including the landscape, a lake and mountains in the background, came from a photo of Wild Goose Island in Montana's Glacier National Park, Snopes said. The picture was taken in 2015 by National Park Service ranger Jacob Frank.

A photo of the round-top Pilot Mountain in North Carolina was used as the mountain resembling a turtle's head in the doctored image, Snopes said.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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