Just the facts, Ma'am

Just the facts, Ma'am

Don't embellish your story. Many expressions moved from a movie or television program to popular speech, but none more quickly than a misquotation (as it turns out) of a lines by Sergeant Joe Friday, played by Jack Webb on the 1950s TV series Dragnet. With his deadpan expression and staccato speech, Friday enthralled the public; Dragnet was one of the highest-rated drama series of the decade. At least once in every show, viewers heard Friday tell a female witness, “Just the facts, Ma'am.” Except they didn't. He might have said, “Give us the facts, ma'am,” but he never uttered the four-word phrase. No matter, because the phrase swept the country in a wide range of contexts. If you wanted to be thought of (if only by yourself) as clever, you interjected “Just the facts, Ma'am” delivered in a Friday voice in a question or request. Oh well, Humphrey Bogart's character Rick in the movie Casablanca never said “Play it again, Sam” either.
See also: just
References in periodicals archive ?
And once we realize this, the just the facts, ma'am approach no longer bolsters credibility, because all we can think of is other facts that we may not have been told, and other investigations that didn't get written about, and other clients whose names will forever remain unmentioned.
One part true-story crime drama and one part fraud reference book, Pedneault's book takes the reader through an entire fraud investigation, following the same principles as the old television show Dragnet: just the facts, ma'am, with names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.
Joe Friday: cold, dry and after the facts, and just the facts, ma'am.
Taking sides in the debate would've suggested an editorial authority, that those responsible really knew what they were talking about rather than were reporting just the facts, ma'am.
You take a news story and it's oftentimes just the facts, ma'am,'' Reno told the newspaper editors.
From the Oklahoma City bombing and the crash of TWA Flight 800 to Internet cults and UFO cover-ups, Americans have learned to be leery of just the facts, ma'am.