B²: “But guns kill people!”

Last week’s tragedy at Umpqua Community College marked the 4th shooting at a college campus since August. Sadly, another community has been rocked by the horrific intentions of one person.

President Obama didn’t wait to politicize the tragedy. In his press conference on Thursday, he lamented the sad fact that this news story is now routine and that somehow “we’ve become numb to this.” He was visibly mad and stated that tighter gun laws are the answer.

With the narrative of more gun restrictions echoing in the news cycle, do you know how to show sympathy for those who lost loved ones while defending the right to protect yourself?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “Isn’t it time to impose stricter gun laws?”

B²: “Not at all. And while what happened at Umpqua Community College is horrific and unbearable for any family member and friend who lost a loved one, the truth is the best way to prevent future tragedies is to <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, first acknowledge the sad and appalling fact that lives were lost. Meet the emotion of the question by grieving with the Roseburg community, but then pivot to data and examples that support your argument against tighter gun laws.

In summary – start with emotion, but end with reason.

B²: Is Obama a…(fill in the blank)?

The “blank” is most often and famously filled by the words “patriot,” “liar,” “Muslim,” and “citizen.”

We were reminded of questions like this at a recent town hall hosted by Donald Trump. The backlash is centered on Trump’s poor response (or, non-response) to a question about President Obama’s citizenship and religious affiliation. It went down like this:

Likewise, Scott Walker experienced backlash when he offered the following response to a question about President Obama’s patriotism: “I’ve never asked him, so I don’t know.”

With only 15 months to go in an 8-year presidency, it’s amazing these questions still arise. But they do. And you need to know how to handle them if one comes your way. As exemplified by Trump and Walker, both a non-response and a dismissive response generate a losing narrative.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “Is President Obama a…(fill in the blank)?”

: “I take the President at his word. Instead, the question we should be asking is <insert talking point>?”

Wherever you take the conversation next, DO NOT ignore the accusation or assess motive. The media would love to get you on record bashing the President and making judgment calls on who he is as a person. Don’t give in! Instead, just B² it so you can focus on YOUR message and create a narrative that wins.

B²: Government Shutdown

Are you experiencing déjà vu?

It may feel that way as the government will run out of money at the end of this month and a shutdown is threatened…again.

Yes, we’ve been here before. In 2013 the government shutdown over funding disputes and many viewed the fallout as a failure for Republicans. No doubt the stakes are higher as we approach a very similar situation on important issues such as Planned Parenthood, the Iran Deal, and the pairing of increased funds for military programs and domestic agencies.

Some (according to their job description) need to discuss political strategy and answer the shutdown question head-on, but those who focus on policy rather than politics can get themselves in trouble if they try to do the same.

If you’re tasked with discussing policy and a reporter moves to questions of a shutdown, do you know how to defend your position without talk of the politics that want to declare you an obstructionist?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “Do you support a government shutdown?”

: “That’s for Congress to decide, but whatever the result it’s truly sad that it takes such a threat to seriously consider funding issues. <Insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, stay away from the political strategy for (or implications of) a shutdown. If your job is to research and promote certain policies, don’t deviate from doing so. Though the policy you focus on may be driving the shutdown, you can continue to talk about that policy without adding to the media narrative that paints Republicans as obstructionists.

B²: Planned Parenthood (Take 2)

With the promised release of more investigative videos by the Center for Medical Progress, and the looming budget deadline at the end of the month, the discussion over Planned Parenthood and taxpayer funds will continue to make headlines. In the next couple weeks, “defund” is the name of the game.

This perfect storm makes for a news cycle rife with questions about the politics behind it all and can easily create a narrative that pits those who support life against those who support abortion.

But there is common ground – taxpayer funds!

Should abortions that lead to the selling of organs for a profit, many times without the full knowledge of the woman, be backed by taxpayers? It’s a question Planned Parenthood so desperately wants to spin.

While the media has packaged this fight into another battle in the “War on Women,” it’s anything but. Do you know how to take back the message and champion a winning narrative?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “Why are you attacking Planned Parenthood by demanding their funding be eliminated?”

: “This is about making sure taxpayer funds for health care are directed towards accessible, quality care, something women are not currently receiving at Planned Parenthood. <Insert talking point>.”

Whether you talk about the twenty comprehensive care clinics for every one Planned Parenthood clinic, or the fact that Planned Parenthood isn’t licensed to perform mammograms, stick to common ground. A serious discussion about comprehensive health care for women and how it is funded should result. That’s a winning strategy.

B²: Minimum Wage

Now that Labor Day Weekend has passed, you face two very important tasks: 1) put away your summer whites and 2) return to work.

A return to work quickly focuses our minds on the topic of the minimum wage…especially with the majority of Americans in support of raising it. (Hart Research Associates reported in January 2015 that 75% of Americans support raising the minimum wage to $12.50.) With the polling data so heavily favoring one side, it’s no surprise that the minimum wage has become a topic of conversation, especially amongst Presidential candidates.

On a tour through New Hampshire, Governor John Kasich was asked to give his perspective. The Washington Post reported that he “rebuffed the idea of raising the federal minimum wage. He told reporters that any increase in the minimum wage should be done state by state, but that it should obviously increase.”

Not too surprisingly, Hillary Clinton is happy to give her position on an issue polling in her favor. In July she stated, “I think it’s going to be important that we set a national minimum, but then we get out of the way of cities and states that believe that they can and should go higher.”

Much has been (and will continue to be) said about the minimum wage, especially as the Presidential race heats up. But what will you say if you’re asked about the minimum wage and your answer is not to raise it? Do you know how to respond so those struggling to make ends meet are considered?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “How do you expect a single parent to support their family if they only make minimum wage? Isn’t it time to consider a living wage?”

: “The challenges a single parent faces are great, and I have no doubt it’s difficult to provide for a family when you’re only making minimum wage. There is, and should continue to be, a safety net for this reason. But we must look at the unintended consequences of raising the minimum wage <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, whether you focus on how raising the minimum wage will mean less job opportunities for those looking for work, how it is likely to push people out of the workforce, or talk about the burden on businesses, you have to meet the emotion of the question before you transition to your talking points. Otherwise, you’ll sound like you don’t care about people. And if you sound like you don’t care about people, the audience will assume you care only about money…and that’s never a winning argument.

B²: SCOTUS and ObamaCare

Last week, President Obama delivered a pre-emptive strike against this year’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance subsidies secured through the federal marketplace.

“There is no reason why the existing exchanges should be overturned through a court case,” Obama said. “It has been well documented that those who passed this legislation never intended for folks who were going through the federal exchange not to have their citizens get subsidies.”

While the Administration has been on the offensive talking about the “intent” of the law, the Supreme Court ruling has the potential to affect 6 million people who signed up for insurance on and the subsidies they receive. This large number of Americans could have cause for worry and panic if solutions aren’t discussed.

It’s complicated. But the B² team is here to help you avoid a messaging position in apparent support of leaving people high and dry, especially those who are struggling to pay for healthcare.

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “What will all these people do, 6 million of them, if these subsidies are eliminated?”

: “This case is more bad news for those who signed up for insurance on since our President said they could receive subsidies when the law actually says they can’t. The good news is that this opens up opportunities to lower high costs for them and every other American. We can get there by <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, start by maintaining that people have another broken promise from the President. Then, turn to solutions! Focus on the fact that the Affordable Care Act has driven up healthcare costs and disrupted the existing coverage of millions of Americans. And then offer up a plan to remedy the situation. Get specific!

B²: Bathrooms for Bruce Jenner

On Friday, Bruce Jenner came out as a transgender, conservative Republican in his ABC News 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer. Some found this ideological admission more shocking than his statement, “I am a woman.”

Jenner, who breaks the myth that Republicans are a monolithic group, does bring LGBT issues to the forefront and even called on House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss the issues in relation to public policy.

One such LGBT policy issue gaining attention in the media is the so-called “bathroom bills,” which consider gender identity requirements for bathrooms in public areas, especially public schools. Among the states recently in the news on this issue are Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, Texas and Virginia — red and purple states.

If asked, do you know how to talk about transgender bathrooms in public schools?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

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

Q: “Do you think it’s right to force a transgender child to use a bathroom that makes him/her feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that discrimination?”

: “We should focus on the privacy and safety of all students. In some schools, gender-neutral bathrooms are available to any student who feels uncomfortable, including those who feel bullied. But, any policy should include <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, even if to say that due to privacy and security concerns the vast majority of children and parents prefer to leave bathrooms as is, do show your concern for all students.

Also, remember that the words you use matter. Instead of repeating “discriminate” and “force,” use words and phrases to emphasize the importance of privacy and security for all students. Schools should be a safe place.

Last, watching “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and Jenner’s upcoming series on his transition will not make you an expert on the transgender issues, so it’s best to not repeat terminology without a good grasp of the context. Study up and use your words well.

B² School Choice in Your State

School choice is a state-level fight that is quickly becoming a federal concern.

Lawmakers in Austin are now debating a bill that would provide the most comprehensive school choice plan in the nation to more than five million Texas public school students.

The B² news analysis team believes this bill has the potential to gain further national media attention and will no doubt be framed by unions and opponents as “anti-teacher” and “anti-public school.”

Combine the national spotlight and the inevitable spin with the confusion surrounding the issue (see The Heritage Foundation’s handy glossary and state-by-state map here to get a handle on what’s happening in your state) and…well, you better know what to say.

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: “If you are taking money away from traditional public schools, won’t that hurt them further?”

B²: “What we find is that all schools improve, including traditional public schools, when funding follows the child instead of a school building. Just look at <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, avoid demonizing traditional public schools and/or teachers. Instead, focus on the possibility of choice to improve all schools and thus lead to a better educational environment for everyone. Remember, a child’s zip code shouldn’t determine whether or not they receive a quality education.

B² the Doc Fix

If Congress doesn’t agree to a solution by April 1, doctors who participate with Medicare could take a 21 percent cut in payments.

House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are working together to change the way Medicare pays doctors.

Even while both sides of the aisle are aligning to meet the realities of how the costs of healthcare are outpacing economic growth, some worry the proposed payment system could add to the deficit.

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 is Congress doing to make sure our doctors’ pay remains stable?”

B²: “Quality healthcare starts with treating our doctors fairly. This is exactly why Congress needs a permanent fix to doctors’ pay, so we can remove the cloud of uncertainty they have faced over the past two decades. We can get there by <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, try to avoid definitions of the Sustainable Growth Rate or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Your inevitably long-winded answer isn’t going to earn you air time. Instead, communicate respect for our nation’s doctors, an honorable profession now in turmoil, and how we owe it to them and our nation to reform Medicare – that’s where the true fix is needed.

B² the Debt Limit. Go on Offense.

DC and Deadlines could be synonymous. The latest target date approaching is the debt ceiling, which we hit on March 16th.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi used catastrophic language Friday, saying, “Failure to act would have savage impacts on American families.”

That fear mongering, combined with the recent DHS shutdown drama, means the media are ready to pounce. The trap? Spending your media time answering the questions framed by the Obama Administration on default and shutdown instead of addressing the larger problem of our nation’s debt.

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: “We hit the debt ceiling on March 16th. This means the possibility of shutting down the government and defaulting on our debt, which could be disastrous to our economy. Do you support raising the debt ceiling?”

A: “Congress will do its job, and the Administration already has the tools it needs. But we can’t keep putting a band-aid on a cancer. If we truly want to avoid hitting the debt ceiling we must reform a government that spends too much, and all against future generations. And we can start by <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the narrative next, don’t let Administration talking points box you in, or impel you to prove a negative about default and shutdown. Take a cue from the Obama communicators. Go on offense and call out Lucy’s political football for what it is – a smokescreen to hide how we climbed to a national debt of more than $18 trillion.  Then, lay out the pathway back.