B²: House Health Care Bill

Some things just go together and should never be separated – birthdays and cake, October and baseball, Beyoncé and Jay Z.

But a new pair has been making headlines in recent days: the House health care bill and pre-existing conditions.

Every single interview/article/social media post that addresses the AHCA, also addresses pre-existing conditions. This means you have no excuse for stumbling through an answer to a question that addresses both. You will be asked about pre-existing conditions in relation to health care, it’s only a matter of time.

So, let’s practice.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “What about people with pre-existing conditions? Will they lose coverage?”

B²: “No. Coverage for those with pre-existing conditions will remain, even after the Senate makes changes. But as we try to move forward and implement good health care policy, we have to consider not only those with pre-existing conditions, but also those who lost their doctors and plans, and experienced exorbitant price increases, under ObamaCare. <Insert talking point>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, don’t shy away from the pre-existing conditions debate. This is a complicated issue that will take time to get right. While we wait for Capitol Hill to work it out, now’s the time to have conversations about what ObamaCare got wrong and how we can fix it so good health care policy prevails.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: Energy + the Environment

On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order to open up U.S. energy resources by removing a ban on off-shore drilling in several key locations. Then, on Saturday, Washington D.C. watched another environmental/climate protest take over the city.

With the environment in the news this week, to say it’s a “hot” button issue is an understatement.

But how do you come out on top in your interviews? Or have an intelligent conversation with someone who believes your science isn’t the same as their science?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “Do you think Trump’s Executive Order to allow for more drilling will hurt the environment?”

B²: “Not at all. In fact, it would be both environmentally and economically irresponsible to fail to steward all the resources we have here in the U.S. <Insert talking point>.”

 

The talking point you pivot to can highlight job creation, economic growth, national security—relying on hostile governments for energy, as well as the environment. Wherever you take the conversation next, emphasize that an all-of-the-above energy strategy will help us better steward our environment for this and future generations.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: Government Shutdown

Friday’s the day!

The day when, if no deal is struck to keep the government open, government employees will find out just how “non-essential” many of them are.

Because talk of the government shutdown will occupy nearly every media outlet until Friday, palace intrigue, negotiation updates, and whip counts will rule the news cycle.

How do you answer a question in your interviews about a government shutdown without getting into the weeds of on-again off-again deals that might never pan out?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “Do you think the government will shut down?”

B²: “We’ll know on Thursday whether or not Congress can find agreement, but regardless, we can’t keep putting a Band-Aid on the major problem of SPENDING TOO MUCH. We’ve been here before and we’ll be here again unless we <insert talking point on spending>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, keep the emphasis on spending and the need to curb it. The key is to get your main message out—hopefully one of limited government and less spending—while fighting back the false narrative that special interest programs must be added into the bill at the eleventh hour to make it “passable.”

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: Tax Day

Tax Day is the worst.

It stands as a reminder of how much money we’ve given the government in the last 365 days (interest free!) thanks to a complicated code no one understands.

And yet, our debt is hovering dangerously close to $20 trillion. TWENTY TRILLION DOLLARS.

Everyone knows tax reform needs to happen, but the debate remains over when and how. As Capitol Hill prepares to have this tough conversation, the media is ready and waiting to ask you about it. Do you know how to talk taxes and tax reform?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “You keep talking about cutting taxes, but we’re $20 trillion in debt. Shouldn’t we raise taxes on the wealthy in order to pay off our debt?”

(Option #1) B²: “Rather than asking Americans to pay more, Congress should be asking themselves how they can spend less. <Insert talking point>.”

(Option #2) B²: “Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem. <Insert talking point>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, remember that it’s important to define the problem in order to fix it; let’s not get lost in the wonky weeds. Focus the conversation on spending and throw out a couple examples of absurd expenditures to prove your point. Most people will agree that simplification and transparency must be upheld as goals one and two in the tax reform process…

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: “That’s a clown question, bro.”

America’s favorite pastime is back! (Non-sports fans, we mean baseball). And for DMG, it’s back with conflicting expectations – DMG is a house divided: we’ve got Giants, Indians, and Nats fans.

In honor of the Nats’ Opening Day (and first win!), we thought we would pay homage to one of our favorite post-game interviews.

Cue Bryce Harper and the “clown question.”

Unless you’re a sports phenom, hitting 42 home runs and driving in 99 RBIs a season, we recommend you take a different approach. Try this strategy instead:

 

Q: <Insert “clown question”>?
B²: *Smile, smirk, or little laugh* <Insert talking point>.

 

If the ridiculousness of the question warrants a smile, smirk, or little laugh, then by all means do so. But don’t take the bait and respond to their question or call them out for asking a silly question.

Finding a way to subtly (and quickly!) acknowledge the absurdity is important, but then pivot to your talking points. You control your answers and, therefore, the story. Don’t let a silly question derail the narrative.

If you remain in control of your emotions and your message, you’ll hit your interview out of the park. (See what we did there?)

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: The Best of Judge Gorsuch

At DMG, we often emphasize the best ways to respond to hostile questions to avoid writing the next day’s headlines. But it’s a rare thing to watch it play out successfully in real life.

And then Judge Gorsuch nailed his Senate confirmation hearings.

Sure, you may not anticipate the same line of questioning in your interviews that Judge Gorsuch faced last week, but there are lessons to learn and strategies to adopt for your own media interview purposes.

Here are the six best B² (block and bridge) responses we heard during Judge Gorsuch’s Senate confirmation hearings and how you can make them your own:

1. He set the tone.

Grassley: “Would you have any trouble ruling against a president who would appoint you?”
Gorsuch: “That’s a softball. I have no difficulty ruling against any party based on what the law and the facts of the particular case requires.”

 

2. He didn’t take the bait.

In his back-and-forth with Senator Dianne Feinstein about D.C. v. Heller, Gorsuch refused to agree or disagree with a statement made by Justice Antonin Scalia in the majority opinion:

Feinstein: “I’m just asking you do you agree with the statement. Yes or no? […]”
Gorsuch: “Whatever is in Heller is the law. And I follow the law.”
Feinstein: “Do you agree?”
Gorsuch: “It is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, senator, respectfully. It is a matter of it being the law. And my job is to apply and enforce the law.”

 

3. He talked about who he is and what he’s for rather than who he isn’t* and what he’s against.

Feinstein: “How do we have confidence in you that you won’t just be for the big corporations, that you will be for the little man?”
Gorsuch: “The bottom line is that I’d like to convey to you from the bottom of my heart is that I’m a fair judge. I can’t guarantee you more than that, but I can promise you absolutely nothing less.”

*He did tell Senator Franken, “I’m not God.” But we’re over it.

 

4. He stayed on message – it’s about the law; IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE LAW.

Judge Gorsuch decided in the minority opinion in what is known as the Frozen Trucker Case and Democrats really, really disagree.

Franken: “I don’t think you’d want to be on the road with him, would you judge?”
Gorsuch: “Senator, um,”
Franken: “You would or not? It’s a really easy: ‘Yes’ or ‘no?'”
Gorsuch: “It might be fair to ask whether TransAm’s decision was a wise or kind one. But it’s not our job to answer questions like that. Our only task is to decide whether the decision was an illegal one.”

 

5. He was comfortable to admit he didn’t know the answer.

Klobacher: (asks for his opinion of cameras in the courtroom)
Gorsuch: “That’s a very important question…I come to it with an open mind. It’s not a question that I confess I’ve given a great deal of thought to.”

 

6. He got mad on purpose.

Leahy: (citing a Republican congressman’s desire for a Gorsuch confirmation so he would “uphold Trump’s Muslim ban”)
Gorsuch (with raised voice): “Senator, he has no idea how I’d rule on that case, and, senator, I’m not going to say anything here that would give anybody any idea how I’d rule in any case like that that could come before the Supreme Court.”

 Again, you may never face this line of questioning and the stakes will likely be lower, but Judge Gorsuch’s ability to communicate his message and intentions is A++.
If he can do this after hours of questioning, you can do this in a three to five minute interview. It’s possible, and we believe in you.
Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: Repeal and Replace is here!

Stop us if you’ve heard this before…”Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced!”

Oh, that’s right. It’s the drumbeat we’ve heard for the past seven years, and last night House Republicans finally delivered.

Officially, leadership has dubbed it the American Health Care Act. Unofficially, some conservative members have nicknamed it ObamaCare Lite and ObamaCare 2.0. But, what’s in a name?

The version released last night is a rough draft to be marked up by a couple committees (Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means) before a full House vote in a couple weeks, which means…THIS WILL BE TOPIC #1 ON MOST REPORTERS’ SHORT LISTS.

You can bet that the more time this process takes, the less forgiving the media will be with their coverage. Reporters will demand specific answers for infighting, delays, and projections of a timeline.

So, what’s the best response you can give?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “There seems to be disagreement among Republicans as to whether this legislation goes far enough to repeal and replace ObamaCare, what’s the likelihood the American Health Care Act will pass Congress and be signed into law?”

B²: “We now have legislation to read and respond to, which is step one. The version released last night will not be the version signed into law. Regardless of what changes the House and Senate make before they vote, solid repeal and replace legislation will include <insert talking point>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, focus on what good legislation will achieve. There is no need to spend 20-30 seconds voicing your frustration with the process (unless your job description says so). Talk policy and not process.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: Trump’s Approach

Not one to disappoint, President Trump has given us a lot to talk about recently. Love it or hate it, we can all agree that his approach is like nothing we’ve seen, and the media desperately want to make sure you realize what a unique situation this is.

You might think the focus of your interview is tax reform. But CAUTION –  the likelihood of fielding a question about Trump’s most recent press conferences and/or rallies is more like a promise than a possibility.

So, let’s talk through how you can redirect the conversation to policy and leave the rest to the pundits.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “What do you make of Trump’s approach in his first 100 days? Do you think it’s effective?”

B²: “I’m not surprised. The same approach he took on the campaign trail is the same approach he’s taking as President, but I’ll leave it to the pundits to analyze. Instead, what I’m setting my focus on is policy. <Insert talking point>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, do yourself a favor and block and bridge questions on Trump’s communication style. Unless you’re tasked with analyzing his delivery, you risk sabotaging or sacrificing your policy message in favor of personality. If policy is where our focus should be, then do your part to make sure that conversation continues!

Trump’s approach and delivery may be different than anything we’ve seen, and there is room to discuss how this difference will play out over the next four years. But save that topic of conversation for happy hour and not your Fox News hit.

Like that famous phrase “always be closing,” DMG recommends you “always talk policy.”

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: All the hysteria

President Trump has occupied the Oval Office for 17 days and the hysteria only seems to be increasing.

Is this our new normal? Hard to say. The riots at UC Berkeley don’t inspire confidence to the contrary.

But amidst the hysteria, it’s important to remember that one of the things that makes America great is the ability to PEACEFULLY protest. And for every $100,000 in damages reported, there are a far greater number of peaceful protests to notice.

So how do you respond to a mainstream media that wants to direct your attention to the latest dumpster fire?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “The riots at UC Berkeley have caused $100,000 in damages. Is this the new normal we can come to expect during the Trump presidency?”

B²: “No. What happened at UC Berkeley is outrageous and should be condemned, but it’s important to uphold the right to protest peacefully as it gives voice to the opposition. <Insert talking point about freedom of speech and the importance of listening to those you disagree with>.”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, uphold the right to peaceably assemble as an effective means to show disagreement. Both sides seem to agree that what happened at UC Berkeley should be condemned and does nothing to bridge the gap, so there’s your common ground to start. But if you’re interested in upping your talking point game, immediately pivot to the importance of peaceful protests as a good and necessary part of what makes America great.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.

B²: SCOTUS Nominee

One week down, so many more to go.

Love him or hate him, agree or disagree, he’s wasted no time delivering on his campaign promises. And in a few short hours, he’ll do it again.

In case you haven’t heard, or checked President Trump’s Twitter feed, he plans to announce his pick for Supreme Court at 8:00 PM:

No matter who he chooses, you can bet the #1 question reporters will ask is whether Democrats should block his nominee based on Republican behavior towards Merrick Garland. Need a block and bridge for that? We thought so.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s this week’s likely question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

 

Q: “Don’t you think Democrats have every right to block a vote since Republicans did the same thing?”

B²: “It’s not the same thing. We were in the middle of a lame duck session, and the Senate Republicans took a stand for the American people. <Insert talking point.>”

 

Wherever you take the conversation next, emphasize the timing and pivot to qualifications. Nominating a Supreme Court justice in a lame duck session is risky business as elected officials face few consequences and voters don’t have a say. Senate Republicans were just defending their constituents. But that lame duck session has ended and the Congress America voted for is back to work. Democrats should respect the process and move forward by examining the nominee’s qualifications.

Need more messaging help and/or media polishing? Become your best self and contact us today.