Words Matter

The topic of abortion has dominated the airwaves since the release of the alleged majority draft opinion was published by Politico one week ago. We’ve heard plenty of arguments both for and against a sensitive issue that requires those who identify as pro-life to talk about it with care.

In the 50 years since Roe, we’ve learned that word choice matters because it reveals how you feel about abortion. For example, you can tell which side of the debate you’re on by which of the following words you use or don’t use: “baby” vs. “fetus” “pro-choice” vs. “pro-life” “right to life” vs. “women’s rights.” Confuse your words and you betray your message, just like President Biden did last week when he said, “abort a child.”

In addition to the words you use, it also matters HOW you talk about abortion and the examples you cite. Polling shows that a slim majority of Americans agree with the right to an abortion. But when asked to specify how far into the pregnancy an abortion should be permissible, that same majority of Americans overwhelmingly think there should be limits.

This change in perspective is largely due to the technology that reveals how a baby develops in the womb, which means those on the pro-life side of the issue should lean on these developments to ground their case.

Here’s what we now know about a baby’s development in the womb:

  • You can hear a baby’s heartbeat as early as three to four weeks.
  • A baby responds to touch at eight weeks.
  • A baby feels pain by 20 weeks or earlier.

Words matter, but so do the examples you use. When discussing the life of an unborn child, focus on their development in the womb. Doing so will give great weight to your talking points in the pro-choice/pro-life debate as these facts and figures continue to change hearts and minds.

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.

B²: SCOTUS and Abortion

As the Running of the Interns confirmed yesterday, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas abortion law that required (among other things) abortion clinics to meet the same health standards as surgical centers.

Some immediately rejoiced…

…while others acknowledged the defeat for what it is – the Supreme Court not only ignored due process, but made it clear that courts—not state legislatures—have the power to determine abortion laws.

So, the fight continues. Especially as November nears and Hillary leads the charge for the Democrats. Women’s health will remain a key talking point on both platforms. Get ready to rumble.

Do you know how to articulate your message in the midst of the firestorm?

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 do you want to shut down abortion facilities that provide and protect women’s health?”

B²: “This decision took away the ability to protect women’s health. When Planned Parenthood clinics routinely fail to meet the same safety and health requirements as hospitals, the opposite happens: women’s health is put at risk. Women deserve (insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, maintain that protecting women’s health is your #1 concern…and the Supreme Court just made that goal a lot more difficult to achieve. Cite Kermit Gosnell and the disgusting state of his clinic as example numero uno of what you hope to prevent. Though some (and the mainstream media) will want to make it seem like you’re just out to end abortion (and maybe you are), control the narrative. Talk about women’s health on your terms.

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: Sore Loser (SCOTUS Edition)

No one likes a sore loser. Chances are, you probably fall into the “loser” camp for at least one of last week’s SCOTUS decisions.

While the decisions are often controversial – otherwise the case wouldn’t have been considered at the highest court – it rarely helps to spend the little time you have in your interview explaining the intricacies of why you think they were wrong.

Who said it best? Vote for which presidential candidate best spent his or her on-air time reacting to the SCOTUS ruling on marriage here.

Here’s a tip – leave the constitutional debate to the constitutional scholars. Complaining about a decision you can’t change will get you nowhere… fast.

So, do you know how to respond to questions about a SCOTUS decision without sounding like a sore loser?

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 are your thoughts on the SCOTUS decision in King v. Burwell?”

: “The Court has spoken about the language in ObamaCare, but what it wasn’t there to address was the effectiveness of ObamaCare. With increasing costs and concerns across this country, we know we must <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation next, don’t get stuck in the past. Instead, look to the future of health care. While aspects of ObamaCare may be here to stay, focus on what can be done to improve quality of health care for all Americans. You can substitute language for other major SCOTUS rulings; the point is to be respectful, to acknowledge the Court’s limits, and then move to your role in influencing and/or shaping policy.

Solutions always trump problems!

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!

SCOTUS: B² Decision Questions

Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear four highly anticipated arguments about same-sex marriage. A 30-60 day pause between the arguments and the decisions provides ample opportunity for hyper analysis.

For example, Reuters reported that the Supreme Court’s mind is already made up on gay marriage after it allowed gay marriage to proceed in Alabama in February.

In an effort to engage in the mental exercise, journalists often ask their sources and guests to predict the outcome. Alert! If you get into the prediction game, you risk losing your credibility.

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: “What do you think the Supreme Court will decide?”

: “It’s impossible to predict what the Supreme Court will decide, but what the Justices should do is <insert talking point>.”

Wherever you take the conversation, recognize that the Supreme Court’s decisions matter to many and are extremely complex. You should talk about your own opinion; that is why you were asked to comment. But don’t feel compelled to make an outcome call and risk losing your credibility.