ON MESSAGE: Minimum Exposure

"This Executive Order brings New York one step closer to achieving our ultimate goal of widespread fiscal reform, government efficiency and reduced property tax burdens."


For many Democrats, these times call for bolder government regulation to correct years of unchecked business practices harmful to the economy, climate and public health. And so, for Governor David Paterson, the titular head of New York's Democratic Party, there was no better time to notify the press corps of an order empowering his staff to roll back such regulation than 2:36 p.m. on a summer Friday.

Late Friday afternoon is the political magic hour for distributing inconvenient or unpopular information. Press offices hope the news will slip through the cracks or vanish into the ether of weekend editions and never reach the eyes of Monday readers. It is the oldest trick in the book. If you have bad news, best to tell reporters about it when their thoughts are drifting toward weekend plans, and when weekend readers are more likely distracted from their papers or Google alerts.

Mr. Paterson's executive order did not go entirely unnoticed. Environmental and good-government groups expressed dismay that the governor, who the day before had delighted them by proposing ambitious targets for reducing New York's carbon emissions, had quietly signed and announced Executive Order 25, which critics have long characterized as a threat to New York's laws to protect health, environment and safety.

"This is one of those Friday afternoon bombshells they like to send out," Laura Haight of the New York Public Interest Research Group, a nonpartisan watchdog group, told the Albany Times Union.

The story ran on Saturday.   ON MESSAGE: Minimum Exposure