By Bob Nesoff
In 1960 actress Melina Mercouri said she would never do “it” on a Sunday. The movie: “Never on a Sunday.”
Chuck Schumer obviously never saw the flick because television news insiders have dubbed him “If it’s Sunday, it must be Schumer.”
Stop and think…when was the last Sunday that came along without Chuck holding a news conference on some subject or other? At the beginning of this month his riff was to offer a $25,000 reward for tips leading to the arrest and conviction of potential terrorists and terror threats.
So far no one appears to have done a tally on how many of his Sunday suggestions have actually become law; or even introduced in the U.S. Senate.
So where did Chuck Schumer come by his fixation on weekly Sunday press conferences and exhortations to fix some problem or other?
Remember Andrew Stein? Stein served in the New York Assembly and then as Manhattan Borough President. His backing for office came from his wealthy father, the multi-millionaire publisher of the New York Law Journal, Jerry Finklestein.
Stein had an obsessive need to hold a press conference every Sunday. Through his father’s connection with then Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican, the Democrat was appointed chairman of the New York State Commission on Living Costs and the Economy; a sinecure with wide-ranging authority.
That commission never existed prior to Andy’s appointment and was later terminated.
That’s not to say the commission didn’t do anything positive. There was the investigation into the nursing home industry that exposed the Bernard Bergman empire. That being said, Stein had to literally be dragged into one nursing home by two aides so that he could actually see what was going on. He nearly got sick.
Then there was the investigation into the abuses by funeral homes that preyed on people at perhaps the worst time in their lives, burying a loved one.
These investigations led to numerous Sunday press conferences. But they were by no means the only subjects. Stein demanded of his PR staff that they come up with a subject for the weekly forays, no matter how specious.
Sound familiar? No wonder. Chuck Schumer, then a State Assemblyman was a frequent observer at the Stein press events. He would talk to Stein’s communication director, asking how the subjects were developed and how the conferences were arranged.
Stein always held his conferences on Sunday because it almost always was a very slow news day and reporters and television news directors were scrambling for something to print or broadcast. Andy was more than willing to assist.
On one instance when the communications director did not schedule a conference, Stein was almost apoplectic.
“Why aren’t we having a press conference?”
The director suggested that he might have more credibility if he let it go for a week.
“You mean not do television,” Stein asked.
“Yup,” responded the PR man.
He finally backed off and went a week without television.
Chuck, are you listening?