B²: Gun Control

The frequency of mass shootings and terrorist attacks are increasing. Orlando is the latest, and many pray the last.

But the Obama Administration’s obvious (and very bad) case of denial is making it difficult to have the right conversation in the media about how to avoid future tragedies. Obama himself would rather cling to gun control as the best preventative measure when very real ties to Islamic terrorism are the common denominator between the San Bernardino and Orlando shooters.

With the media and administration driving the “guns are bad!” narrative, how can you change the conversation and elevate Islamic terrorism as the number one talking point?

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: “<Insert question about gun control>.”

B²: “Gun control laws strip citizens of their only defense in these horrific situations because criminals, and in this case an Islamic terrorist, are going to kill innocent people regardless of what the law says. This is exactly why we need to <insert talking point on defeating Islamic terrorism>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, acknowledge the senseless tragedy that happened in Orlando and then connect prevention to combating Islamic terrorism, not stricter gun laws; people want solutions, not platitudes. The “guns are bad!” narrative has been propped up for decades and yet the frequency of mass shootings and terrorist attacks have increased. It’s time to have a different conversation.

NOTE: If you are an expert on gun laws, please debate the issue rather than pivot to Islamic terrorism. There is room for this discussion, and those who are prepared to have it should have it.

B²: Going Green

Big things are happening on Friday – 1) it’s Earth Day and 2) the Paris Agreement is scheduled to be signed in New York. Climate change advocates everywhere rejoice!

Especially President Obama. Remember that one time he said, “No challenge  poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.” That’s right. Not ISIS or terrorism or literally anything else. Obama wants desperately to impose regulations he thinks will make a difference before he leaves office in January.

However, (cue the sad trombone) numerous studies have proven the opposite – instead of stopping or reversing climate change, the regulations will be of little help AND place a heavy cost on families. No bueno.

In anticipation of Friday’s events and Obama’s determination to maintain a legacy of climate change reversal, beware of reporters who will want to throw accusatory questions at you. Questions that assume you deny climate change and hate the environment. Do you know how to stand your ground?

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: “It has been reported that energy regulations are necessary to stop climate change, but you favor not imposing regulations. Why don’t you want to save our planet?”

B²: “I care about the environment, which is why I don’t agree with the regulations the President and others want to impose. Research proves that the Paris Agreement will have little impact on global temperatures but significant impact on people’s energy costs. For example, <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, make sure you talk about caring for the environment first. Sure, cost matters and it’s important to talk about how American jobs will be harmed and energy costs will likely increase by 20%, but combat the typical rhetoric and embrace your concern for the health of the planet. Because you do care! And it’s ok to talk about it! Not only will you disarm a hostile reporter/host, but you’ll establish common ground with those who favor regulation. All of a sudden, your position doesn’t seem so extreme.

B²: Terror Attacks

The tragic events of the last 7 days are too familiar. We’ve now witnessed 4 separate attacks in 4 months. From Paris to San Bernardino to Brussels to Pakistan, the world continues to unite with and mourn for those affected, as well as talk about how to prevent similar attacks in the future.

But with Obama’s tone deaf response…

…and a presidential candidate’s knee-jerk declaration to build a wall, ban Muslims, and waterboard, reporters can easily steer you away from a constructive policy conversation to defeat ISIS.

If you plan to focus on policy rather than the politician, do you know how to remain above the fray and offer a way forward?

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: “We’ve witnessed 4 terrorist attacks in 4 months. Do you agree with Donald Trump on how we deal with this?”

B²: “I don’t and here’s why – while it is true that we need to remain vigilant at home, the best way to prevent future attacks here is to have a clear strategy to combat ISIS over there. We need to <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, shift the focus from politician to policy. True, it is fair game to call out responses that are less than helpful (cc: Obama and Trump), but the middle ground remains wide open. Occupy it. No matter your foreign policy, now is the time to have a serious discussion about how to keep the American people safe and prevent future attacks on our soil.

Is ISIS really Obama’s top priority?

Optics matter. A lot.

DMG president Beverly Hallberg analyzes President Obama’s vs. French President Hollande’s words and actions post-Brussels attacks:

“The juxtaposition of the blood-stained images from Belgium against Obama’s jovial demeanor (complete with sunglasses) in an interview on ESPN allowed the social media posts to create themselves. With Americans confirmed dead in Belgium, this tone deaf image is hard to deny.

Compare Obama’s actions to Hollande’s.

It was widely reported that immediately after the attack he called for a meeting with high-level officials to deal with the situation.”

To read more, visit The Daily Signal.

B²: Cuba

And now for a B² that isn’t marked by endorsement questions, the “establishment” vs. “outsider” label, and talking point gaffes (aka – the crazy that is this election cycle). Instead, let’s talk foreign policy.

The Obamas’ Spring Break 2016 trip to Cuba ends later today. But this historic visit (with all its implications) will remain a talking point, especially given the divide over whether this “olive branch” of a trip is helpful or hurtful moving forward. Reporters are ready to talk about it. Are you?

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 think President Obama’s trip to Cuba was a good idea?”

B²: “There’s no doubt President Obama’s visit was historic, but the focus of conversation should be how to help those who’ve been persecuted under the Castro regime. The best way to achieve that is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, remember that while the trip is over (almost), the focus should remain on the oppression of the Cuban people and the best way to bring freedom to that country. The result? You have the opportunity to use a major, controversial news cycle topic to spotlight the best foreign policy for Cuba.

B²: Scalia and SCOTUS

We lost a great man on Saturday.

In just 72 hours, much has been written about Justice Antonin Scalia’s life and legacy on the Court.

But headlines have quickly turned to the bench’s void and President Obama’s determination to nominate Scalia’s replacement “in due time.” On the other hand, Republicans insist (via Mitch McConnell and others) that “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

No doubt you will be asked to comment on this disagreement as it unfolds. But (unless you’re an expert on the nomination process) do you know how to address the tragedy as well as your talking points in a 30-second answer?

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 think Republicans are right to block Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court regardless of the blowback from Democrats?”

: “Justice Scalia’s death was untimely and tragic. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. No matter who fills that spot on the Court, whether Obama’s nominee or the next President’s, he or she will have to consider <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, first acknowledge the loss suffered. You have to meet the emotion of the situation BEFORE you launch into talking points. This rule applies to every tragedy regardless of the politics involved or the inevitable headlines. You have a heart, so don’t be afraid to show it. But also make sure you can easily pivot to your talking points.

B²: Rubio’s Talking Points

On Saturday night, Marco Rubio quickly became a study in what not to do.

In four minutes, Rubio repeated the same answer (almost word-for-word) THREE times. Not only did he make it obvious that the line was prepared and rehearsed, but he played into the narrative that Chris Christie had developed for him of “the memorized 25-second speech.”

True. DMG recommends you prepare talking points for every interview so you can block and bridge to each regardless of the question. But the pivot should always be natural. If you expose the technique, you fail to deliver. It’s a fine line between preparation and canned response. But it’s also possible to walk it. So, what could Rubio have done?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Christie’s attack: “I like Marco Rubio, and he’s a smart person and a good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States and make these decisions…”

Rubio’s : “Well, I think the experience is not just what you did, but how it worked out. Under Chris Christie’s governorship of New Jersey, they’ve been downgraded nine times in their credit rating… But I would add this. Let’s dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing…”

Christie’s continued attack: “There it is. There it is. The memorized 25-second speech.”

Rubio: “<address the attack and call out its inaccuracy instead of repeating the Obama talking point>.”

You can B² (block and bridge) an attack ONCE. And only once. If the attack comes back at you a second time, you must respond to it. In politics, the name of the game is authenticity, which can translate to thinking on your feet mid-attack. Continually dodging an attack implies the opposite. If Rubio had followed DMG’s rules, headlines the next day may have told a different story.

B²: SOTU and Executive Action

Executive actions/orders/overreach are kinda President Obama’s thing. If he doesn’t like how Congress acts (or fails to act), he’ll go it alone. As he said in last week’s press conference, “Until we have the Congress that’s in line with the majority of Americans, there are actions within my legal authority that we can take to help reduce gun violence and save more lives.”

You can expect similar rhetoric in tonight’s State of the Union address, with a likely insistence that his final year in office will not be categorized as “lame duck.” In anticipation of more executive actions/orders/overreach in the next year, do you know how to respond to a reporter’s question about policy while making it clear that the right process is important?

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 do you think about the President’s position on X?”

B²: “While it’s important to discuss policy, a greater concern is the President’s default position to bypass Congress. Any policy proposal should be viewed through the lens of Congress’ approval as well as the President’s. And a solution we should consider is… <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, know that separation of powers is a thing…even if the President refuses to play by the rules. You can quickly call out his strategy and still have time to propose your solution to the problem. It’s a win-win to point to what works while, hopefully, keeping misuse of Presidential power at bay.

B²: Iran and President Obama

The clock is ticking. As of yesterday, the Senate has 60 days to give a thumbs up or thumbs down on the deal with Iran, or what is formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

With many democrats on the fence, republicans digging in their heels, 2016 around the corner, and veto threats from the President and Congress alike, we’re headed into the talking point version of the dog days of summer. No doubt reporters will try to drag you into the political theatre.

Do you know how to answer questions about the deal without making personal attacks against the President?

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: “The President said this is an “historic” deal and has called out his critics who think otherwise. Isn’t this deal better than no deal?”

: “Negotiating with Iran is without a doubt a tough job, but there are legitimate reasons why people, including those in the President’s own party, have raised concerns. Any deal with Iran should <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, it is always helpful to start with common ground. In this case, the common ground is found in acknowledging how difficult it must be to negotiate with Iran. Then, you turn to the concerns raised by such a deal. Remember: your case is made stronger if you can bring in people who normally side with the president. Last, bridge to your talking point that must include a solution. It isn’t enough to say why this is bad without offering what is best.

B²: Grief and Gun Control

While Charleston still mourned, President Obama used the tragedy to remind America of his gun control agenda.

At an annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in San Francisco on Friday he said, “We have to shift how we think about this issue and we have the capacity to change…That’s how we honor those families (in Charleston). That’s how we honor the families of Newtown, and that’s how we honor the families in Aurora.”

The process of politicizing pain is increasingly familiar. “Why” and “how” questions after tragedies are natural to the human experience, as they are in media interviews. But while the nation grieves with Charleston, do you know how to answer questions about calls for urgent change? The proposed changes take our focus off viable solutions and may forever alter our right to protect ourselves.

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: “We have to do something. Isn’t it time to institute tighter gun control laws so that another Charleston, another Newtown, or another Aurora doesn’t happen?”

: “What’s happened in all these cities is absolutely terrible, and I can’t imagine the pain the families experience on a daily basis. But the sad reality is that tighter gun control laws wouldn’t have prevented any of these tragedies. What we should do is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, whether to talk about the need to protect the rights of responsible gun owners so that we are all safer, or the importance of dealing with mental health issues in this country, DO meet the emotion of the question first. If you ignore the victim in the question and move straight to a talking point, you’ll sound like you don’t care.