A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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“Too much Monday, not enough coffee” (3/25)
“Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere” ("coffee” backronym) (3/25)
“To make me happy: Make me coffee, bring me coffee, be coffee….coffee” (3/24)
“Coffee! Coffee! It’s our drink! If we don’t get it, we can’t think!” (3/24)
“Coffee: because hating your job should be done with enthusiasm” (3/24)
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Entry from June 18, 2011
“Never screw up on a slow news day”

"Never screw up on a slow news day” is a popular political/public relations saying. On a slow news day, a small screw-up could be the lead news story, causing great embarrassment. The saying was popular in the presidential administration of Gerald Ford, where Assistant Press Secretary William Roberts displayed the motto in his office.

The saying dates to at least November 9, 1972 (just after the presidential election), when Johnny Hart’s B.C. comic strip had a losing politician use the line, “Never screw-up on a slow news day.”


9 November 1972, Charleston (WV) Gazette, “B.C” comic strip by Johnny Hart, pg. 10B:
Panel One:
Reporter: TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR LOSS IN THE RECENT ELECTION?
Candidate: PRESS COVERAGE OF SOMETHING I SAID EARLY IN MY CAMPAIGN.
Panel Two:
Reporter: AND WHAT WAS THAT?
Panel Three:
Candidate: “NEVER SCREW-UP ON A SLOW NEWS DAY.”

Google Books
Newsweek
Volume 89
1977
Pg. 213:
Don’t screw up on a slow news day. In fact, don’t do anything on a slow news day if you can help it. Nothing else is happening, so anything you do is big news.

Google Books
It Sure Looks Different from the Inside
By Ron Nessen
Chicago, IL: Playboy Press; New York, NY: trade distribution by Simon and Schuster
1978
Pg. 168:
(The episode demonstrated the wisdom of the admonition one of my assistants had hanging on his office wall, “Don’t screw up on a slow news day.")

Google Books
Portraying the President:
The White House and the news media

By Michael Baruch Grossman and Martha Joynt Kumar
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press
1981
Pg. 148:
“Don’t Screw Up on a Slow News Day” was the motto that Assistant Press Secretary William Roberts of the Ford administration displayed in his office.

Google Books
Legislative Life:
People, Process, and Performance in the States

By Alan Rosenthal
New York, NY: Harper & Row
1981
Pg. 175:
Another admonishes, “Don’t screw up on a slow news day.”

Google Books
TV Guide
1981
Pg. 131:
Don’t screw up on a slow news day. Little gaffes and minor controversies at the White House get magnified into the big story of the day when nothing much is happening to fill up the evening news.

Google News Archive
25 November 1986, Bangor (ME) Daily News, “McKernan meets top lawmakers to discuss State House transition,” pg. 7, col. 3:
“The best advice we got was ‘don’t mess up on a slow news day,’” he said.
(Republican Governor-elect John R. McKernan—ed.)

Google News Archive
1 November 1987, Spokane (WA) Spokesman-Review, “Book on humor isn’t very funny” by Jim Camden, pg. E2, col. 1:
“HUMOR AND THE PRESIDENCY.” By Gerald Ford, Arbor House, 162 pages, $15.95.
(...)
Ford offers the advice political writers have often given new office holders: Never screw up on a slow news day.

Google News Archive
16 December 1988, Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), “Sheriff angry at media coverage on roving cows,” pg. 6, col. 1:
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP)—Roanoke County Sheriff Mike Kavanaugh complained that the news media has overplayed its coverage of a charge that he lets his cows run loose on neighbors’ property.
(...)
“Being in the position I’m in, I stand as a target,” the sheriff said. “In law enforcement we have an axiom: Don’t screw up on a slow news day.”

Google Books
Secondary Principal’s Survival Guide:
Practical techniques & materials for successful school administration

By Robert D. Ramsey
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall
1992
Pg. 246:
If possible, “don’t screw up on a slow news day.”

Google Books
Public and Media Relations for the Fire Service
By Tim Birr
Saddle Brook, NJ: Fire Engineering
1999
Pg. 21:
An old axiom among PR people is “Never mess up on a slow news day.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Saturday, June 18, 2011 • Permalink