B²: Clinton vs. Gowdy

Last Friday’s headlines told the same story – in the matchup at the Benghazi hearings, Republicans lost and Hillary won.

Though a possible indictment by the FBI will diminish cries of “victory,” the calm, cool, and collected Hillary Clinton who sat on the other side of Republican finger pointing for 11 hours did a whole lot to bolster her public image and her campaign. Add to her stellar performance Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (SC-04) concession that no new information was learned, and, well, Hillary Clinton had another good week.

True, there was a lot of pressure to prove the committee’s relevance leading up to the hearings. Thanks, in large part, to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) and his suggestion that one of the committee’s goals may have been to take down Clinton’s campaign for President of the United States. But the nail in the coffin was Gowdy’s interview at the end of the day. When asked if he learned anything new from Clinton’s testimony, he said:

“I’d have to go back and look at the transcript”


Gowdy probably could’ve said ANYTHING else and lessened the blow. But his admittance that 11 hours of testimony highlighted no new information about what happened in Benghazi validated every skeptic of the committee’s existence.

So, what should he have said? And what do you do when you’re asked to comment on a situation that didn’t go as planned?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here is the media question Trey Gowdy was asked and the B² (block and bridge) that could’ve set the narrative straight:

Q: “What new information did you learn today?”

B²: “What we learned is that Hillary Clinton still isn’t giving us straight answers, but we were able to get an honest answer about <insert talking point>.”

Regardless of whatever talking point Gowdy inserted, a good answer would’ve looked like this: underline what didn’t go well (with the finger pointed at Hillary) and then transition to a new piece of information. If you find yourself in a similar situation, do the same. If something doesn’t go as planned, admit it. And if there is a specific, uncontrollable reason why it didn’t go as planned, admit that too. But never forget to B² (block and bridge) to the good and/or an important piece of information the public should know.

Every answer is an opportunity to sell your message. Don’t let a reporter’s questions dictate your narrative. If you do, you’ll lose every time!

B²: McCarthy’s Mishap

If Kevin McCarthy taught us anything last week, it’s that words matter.

With one impassioned statement, he not only took himself out of the running for Speaker of the House, but called into question the motive behind the Benghazi hearings and gave Hillary the lifeline she needed.

In an interview with Sean Hannity on September 29th, tension was high from the start. But the wheels came off the moment Hannity asked McCarthy to grade Boehner.

When Hannity disapproved of the “B-“ response, a visibly agitated McCarthy tried to take control of the interview by asking HIMSELF a question – “The question I think you really want to ask me is, how am I going to be different?” His answer to his own question included the now-infamous comment proudly displayed in a Hillary Clinton attack ad.

McCarthy clearly stepped in it, but the catalyst was his frustrated response when asked to grade Boehner’s performance as Speaker. How common is this question? More common than you think. With any major departure in DC, the “report card” question is often asked. Do you know how to answer so as to satisfy the host while keeping your cool?

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 grade would you give Speaker Boehner?”

B²: “I’d give him a passing grade for handing over the gavel without a knock-down, drag-out fight, but the reason he had to step down in the first place was because people want leadership that <insert talking point>.”

If you are asked to give a grade, stick to a “passing grade” or a “failing grade,” and then block and bridge to YOUR talking point. Giving a specific letter grade will often not satisfy the host who then has more ammunition for disagreement. Wherever you take the conversation next, don’t get mad – composure will always trump frustration.