MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-October 2016 Edition

October 27, 2016

Considerations Before a Presidential Election…

—That a Donald Trump loss could result in a Trump TV network that would siphon viewers from Fox News. The ‘mainstream’ media has been too busy reporting on she-says-he-says and stolen e-mails to pay much attention. Good journalism is at a minimum in this campaign.

—Journalistic objectivity and balance have taken a pounding from highly partisan news sources and the general public because there is no middle-of-the-road media position in 2016. How many disseminators of news can you consider even-handed in the gathering, writing and reporting of news in this election cycle? (include social media news bloggers in your assessment).

—In this election campaign, there is a great demand from the media for highly opinionated one-sided information that supports the viewers/readers/listeners views.                                P O L A R I Z A T I O N. Who wins?

—Many similarities to the 1964 presidential election between Johnson and Goldwater. “Extremism in the pursuit of…” vs. the TV commercial of a pretty, little girl holding a flower and being obliterated by a nuclear blast in the background. Perhaps in the past 52 years technology has raced forward and civil discourse has plunged backward?

—A personal thought after early voting this week. The tremendous number of candidates for legislative and judicial offices running unopposed. I can never recall so many one-party choices. Democracy in inaction.

—Do you miss the ‘good old days’ when radio and TV talk show guests argued over serious social issues…the host(hostess) prodded both sides and the audience came away smarter for it all. It’s almost extinct like coal.


MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-September 2016 Edition

September 26, 2016

THE FIRST DEBATE:A Political Fencing Match–Parry and Riposte—

It’s all about “Like-ability”. Most people don’t remember 80-90% of what someone says 15-30 minutes after it’s said, But they do remember whether they liked or disliked the person saying it. Clinton and Trump are both very unlikable candidates.

What strategies do they adopt in Monday’s debate to win over the key audience–THE UNDECIDEDs?

Trump has to prove he has a statesman’s ability to clearly make a policy point and vigorously support it with examples and stories. He represents a change from the “status quo”(Clinton/Obama). The “bully-in-your-face” mentality, that worked in the GOP primaries, won’t work in this format. Tough guys don’t have to tell you they’re tough. What they say and how they say it gives perceptive credibility. Trump needs to emphasize the visual elements of his countenance—eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, movement and energy and keep from overpowering vocal volume.

The undecideds want to know if Clinton, with all her ‘baggage’ in government service throughout the years, provides any change in direction domestically and globally. Perception (not reality) of her is conniving, secretive, untrustworthy–the typical politician of the 21st century. How does she change that perception against a man who likes to attack? The undecideds need to see a caring, smiling and confident candidate who has worked to soften her image. That change must come through the TV cameras rather than a litany of what she will do and how she will do it. She doesn’t have to defend the last eight years—tell the undecideds how it’s going to change using examples and stories. Will the ‘do-over’ make her likeable?


In a good fencing match, one opponent begins an attack on his rival. The rival is either able to parry (push aside) the blade and initiate a reposte (response). The winner of this debate will be the candidate who accepts the attack, defends his/her position and then goes on the offensive. Whomever scores the most “touches” will win the undecideds.


MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-August 2016 Edition

August 16, 2016

FOX DOESN”T SAY WHAT AILES THEM— The public continues to see erosion in media ethics. Latest example is Fox News. Fox boss Roger Ailes resigned almost a month ago after charges of sexual harassment went public. A published report (Wash Post) says the folks at Fox spent about 11+ minutes of airtime talking about the story. No discussions, no frothy hosts yowling, no comments from the big shots. Come to think of it, NBC did the same thing when it booted top news anchor Brian Williams who had committed the sin of telling people he was where he wasn’t. Williams was vacationed for a few months and then exiled to a foreign post on cable news. Reporting on yourself is excruciatingly tough. If you do you increase confidence in journalism as a noble profession. If you don’t, the profession gets another black eye.

SCAPEGOATING MEDIA IS OLD NEWS— When the defecation hits the ventilation, public figures need someone to blame. So why not the media? It’s as old as Methuselah. The old testament says “reporters, editors report the news…they don’t make it.” The new testament says that’s hogwash. If you can blame print, TV, radio and social media for your stupidity…do it! When you throw mud against a wall some of it will stick. But, in the end, it’s still mud.
“If the disgusting and corporate media covered me honestly and didn’t put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%,”
The trump-et continues to blast discordant notes. Time for new music.

A C.R.O FOR THE CITY THAT ‘WORKS’— Mayor Rahm and his team can’t seem to do much right these days if you believe what you read and see. Crime, bad ed in poor areas, unhappy school teachers, gigantic tax hikes, repressed cop videos etcetcetc. But the city has hired a Chief Resilience Officer whose job it is to develop future strategies to address everything from crime, poverty, natural disasters and aging infrastructure. He’s Aaron Koch. His experience?
For the past four years he was the Deputy Commish of the city’s Dept. of Water Management.
Resilience officers? An idea created by the Rockefeller Foundation. It’s paying Koch’s salary for two years as well as software and networking expenses.
Wishful thinking or the kernel of a good idea? Depends on transparency and media coverage.

IF YOU SAY IT…YOU OWN IT— Maybe second thoughts can prevent first babbles?

  • “uncomfortable and unorthodox” Chris Sale on White Sox 1976 throwback unis
  • “I can’t imagine what the country would be—with Donald Trump as our President” Supreme Court Justice Ruth B. Ginsburg
  • “I didn’t get into golf to try and grow the game” Rory McIlroy on why he skipped golfing for Ireland in the Olympics.
  • “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material…” Hillary Clinton 3/10/2015

MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-July 2016 Edition

June 28, 2016

AN OUT-OF-TOUCH MEDIA CAN’T GET IN TOUCH— Ed Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Eric Sevareid must be turning over in their graves at today’s ‘media’ trying to cover, in an unbiased way, the mud fight between Hillary and Don. Very few journalists/reporters/producers can be unbiased. It’s human nature to have feelings about people and issues that carry over into news coverage. You pick the network or cable operation. If you can’t select either the right bias or left bias within the first two minutes you’re not the sharpest tack in the box. Liberal reporters don’t know how to cover Trump. He belittles them and they can’t box him in with ‘gotcha’ questions. What to do? The frustrated reporters have resorted to cleverly placing analysis within their stories (without labeling). The result? Fewer viewers, readers and listeners trust the traditional media anymore because these jokers-of-journalism can’t hide their feelings and show their true colors. THERE IS ONLY BALANCE IN REALLY GOOD JOURNALISM. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS BEING UNBIASED. MEDIA AND THE PUBLIC CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE ANYMORE.

INCISIVE VIEWS ABOUT BREXIT AS THE MARKETS TUMBLE— Two opinions on why Britain is leaving the EU which centers on the world we live in. Drew Scott, professor of EU Studies at Edinburgh University: “the campaign has been riven with half-truths and falsehoods on both sides. We don’t seem to worry about the truth anymore—it’s just about winning and losing.”
British commentator Clive Crook: “Liberals and conservatives who make a living from politics, or love it as an end in itself, pronounce tirelessly on liberty and social justice and the deep constitutional principles at stake in federal bathroom policy. The rest of the country doesn’t care about this permanent war of ideas and worries more about holes in the road, what’s going on in the schools, depleted retirement savings, and the latest hike in health-insurance deductibles…as to whether politics as usual has failed the country and something needs to change, I’d definitely start paying attention to those people. On that important point, they’re absolutely right.” 

THE TRUTH BE TOLD— Golden State went 73-9 in the NBA regular season under coach and former Bull Steve Kerr. They lost the championship to Cleveland in 7 games. When asked why his team lost, Kerr replied “shots were hard to come by and the few we did have (7th game) that were open we weren’t able to knock down. They were a better team.”  THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS SO REFRESHING THESE DAYS.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT— Pew Research Center reports that, for the first time in the modern ear, young adults (18-34) are more likely to room with Mom and Dad rather than coupling up in their own households. First time it’s happened, says Pew, since 1880. WHO SAYS TIMES HAVEN’T CHANGED?


MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-June 2016 Edition

June 8, 2016

HE BORROWED IT FROM A WHITE ‘WRASSLER’— ”I am the Greatest”…”If You Talk Jive, You’ll Fall in Five”! On July 9, 1971, almost 3 months after he lost the heavyweight title to Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden, Muhammad Ali told my WIND radio audience how he perfected the in-your-face brashness that became his trademark. As a kid in Louisville, he watched wrestling on TV and saw this blond-haired villain, Gorgeous George, enter the ring followed by a bevy of beautiful girls. And he heard the fans scream their boos at George. “ And I saw Gorgeous George make faces at the crowd…I watched the rich folks in the expensive seats and I thought this is a good idea. And what made it worse was that I was black. ‘Kill that dirty*&@#’…’get that black &%##@’ they would yell and I started ‘talking pretty” and went to the bank laughing.” Muhammad Ali was as good a promoter and marketer as he was a boxer and humanitarian. The story goes he read everyone of his fight contracts before signing off.

DEMS SAY MUCHOS GRACIAS SENIOR DONALD— An Indiana-born judge of Mexican heritage has drawn the scorn of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Why? Because Gonzalo Curiel is hearing lawsuits against Trump U. DT thinks the judge has “an inherent conflict of interest” because of his Mexican blood but the lawsuits are about civil fraud and not ethnicity. The art of effective communication is to bring in converts through positive persuasion not push them away through verbal stupidity and pettiness.

STARR CROSSED AT BAYLOR— Remember Ken Starr? He prosecuted Bill Clinton for impeachment. Eventually he became president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Big-time football success came to Baylor after decades of dung. And then came many accusations of sexual assaults by member of the Bears’ football team. Starr, the football coach and his peons, pretty much did nothing about the charges. And lo-and-behold the Baylor Board of Regents said “the depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us.” Starr said he wasn’t aware of attack allegations until last year. He and the football coach were jettisoned. What did you know and when did you know it? Why cynicism is having a field day in the U.S.

HILLARY SHOULD GET COAL IN HER XMAS STOCKING— —”I am the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key in coal county. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”(March-2016). Then in May she told out-of-work coal miners she felt their pain. In a typical Hillary non-apologyapology she added”I do feel a little bit sad and sorry I gave folks the reason and excuse to be upset with me because that is not what I intended at all.”Politicians usually talk out of both sides of their mouths. What is the real human toll on policies that end the coal industry? Waiting to hear some verbal/written communications on this issue from the candidates, aren’t you?


MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-May 2016 Edition

May 1, 2016

JUDGE PINS DENNY TO THE MAT— Fifteen months in prison…admitted sex offender…almost 40 years of keeping secrets about Denny Hastert’s ‘teaching techniques’ when he was the ‘rasslin’ coach at Yorkville, IL high. In this sordid case the words of federal judge Thomas Durkin say it all. “Nothing is more stunning than having the words ‘serial child molester’ and ‘speaker of the house ‘ in the same sentence. The judge did get it right and he used a powerful quote for support. Good idea to have a memorable quote/soundbite.

WRONG GOVT NEWS IS 9′s VERY OWN Jumping to faulty conclusions, Channel 9 News kept claiming Wednesday midday that Denny Hastert, the ‘rasslin’ coach, was not going to get jail time for what he had done…just “supervised release”. Inaccurate because the judge hadn’t handed down a sentence yet.
When the egg had firmly dried on their news’ faces, a Ch 9 spokesperson admitted the error but said the story was updated when they got the latest info. Huh? Credibility lost is a very tough commodity to regain. Ask BP.

GENTLE BEN STRIKES THE WRONG NOTE— Whose ‘kisser’ should be on the face of the $10 bill?, former presidential candidate Ben Carson was asked on Fox Business News. ” I love Harriet Tubman. I love what she did,” he said. Then he added “but we can find another way to honor her. Maybe a $2 bill?”
The $2 bill was last issued 13 years ago. Always have a Key Message in mind before you put your tongue in gear.

A $13 MILLION TWITTER— Today(Thursday 4/28) is Take Your Child to Work Day. Former White Sox infielder Adam LaRoche walked away from lotsa money in spring training when Sox management asked him to remove his 14-year-old son from the clubhouse. It caused a fleeting furor culminating with LaRoche’s retirement. Probably with tongue planted firmly in teeth..LaRoche tweeted people not to forget to take their kids to work. Humor in external/internal communications adds a needed smile to stressful days.

DRINKING FROM THE TAP NOW— Michigan Guv Rick Snyder is finally drinking Flint’s water. After the lead-tainted public drinking water issue went public, Snyder said he was not aware of the problem. He’s come under fire for being very s l o w to react. Now he’s drinking filtered water from a Flint home he visited a couple of weeks ago. He refills his water supply each week. “I understand why some Flint residents are hesitant to drink the water. I am hopeful I can alleviate some of the skepticism and mistrust, “Snyder said.
His words might have had more IMPACT last fall then six months later. Crisis communications by-words are CARE, CONCERN and COMPASSION. Lead from the front.


MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-April 2016 Edition

April 8, 2016

TRYING TO FIGURE OUT THE MESSAGE— Key to a good communicator are important messages supported by stories and examples that anyone with a college diploma to a high school dropout can understand. Fences along the Mexican border…throw the Muslims out…get rid of NAFTA and other trade ‘boondoggles’…make the one-percenters pay more into the American pot…etcetcetc? From both parties and most primary candidates we hear messages that have little or no chance of ever being born. Trump, Sanders, Cruz, Clinton.

A cacophony of unreality. Maybe the American voters, whether left or right, are waiting for some “message messiah” who makes a promise that is do-able. Key messages involve trust/can-do and the supporting stories should paint a vivid picture.

WHY AP WILL ALWAYS BE THE KING The traditional tee shots to open the 2016 Masters will be hit by Jack (Nicklaus) and Gary (Player). The third member of that famous threesome, Arnold Palmer, is not going to swing a club. A reporter asked Arnie why not?

“I don’t have the physical capability to hit the shot the way I want to hit it so I’ll have to be content to watch.” 

A truthful answer these days is quite refreshing.

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE— When your parents used to tell you “to get the lead out” they weren’t talking about drinking water. Top Michigan officials, including the governor, never signed off on a decision to switch Flint’s drinking water to the Flint River. The guy in charge, the state treasurer, says he has “no memory of the issue hitting his desk.” Michigan then failed to require the proper treatment of the corrosive river water. Who watches the watchman?

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT LISTENING— Some people can remember only about 10% of what was said in a face-to-face conversation after a brief distraction…researchers believe listening skills have fallen amid more multitasking and interruptions…most people can think more than twice as fast as the average person talks thus allowing the mind to wander. You can improve listening skills by becoming aware of the way you may tune others out.


MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-March 2016 Edition

March 1, 2016

NATIONAL MEDIA ‘TOOTHLESS’ WITH PREZ CANDIDATES— Go ahead, blame the media for not pressing the Presidential candidates on issue ‘specifics’. You’d be right. Can’t count on one hand network big-shot reporters who have held any of the candidates’ feet to the fire. Guess they’re afraid of being branded too ‘aggressive’ if they don’t get an answer and reload and reload. Trump runs over reporters and Clinton brushes questions aside. Other than a brick fence that “Mexico is going to pay for”…what else do we know about immigration reform from the donkeys and elephants? More good-paying jobs…growing the middle class…more expansive vocational education for those who don’t want to go to college…really helping black and hispanic kids grow up with a chance to succeed. Anything close to specifics from these wannabees? The future of our kids, grand kids and beyond might be in the hands of a guy who doesn’t know anything about the Ku Klux Klan and then blames his moronic answer on a bad TV ear-piece or a woman very few believe because she seems rarely to speak with straight tongue.

Today’s media is as light as a cork–asking very few tough questions and settling for celebrity and easy pickins’video. Where are the Cronkites, Sevareids and Murrows when we need them?

TURNABOUT MAY BE FAIR PLAY UNLESS— Democrats want President Obama to name a new Supreme Court justice to succeed Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans say “don’t waste your time.”
Dems say the Constitution demands a successor NOW. Republicans respond ‘not on Obama’s watch’.
A minimum amount of homework will show that the President supported a Senate filibuster against Justice Samuel Alioto in 2006 when Obama was a senator. Veep Joe Biden , in 1992, said a potential vacancy on the big court should wait until after the election to come. Joe was a Delaware senator and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In 2016 Pres. Obama says he “gets the politics of it.”

He who has the gold makes the rules. The modern day political twist on a dialogue that seems to have no end.

YANKEES WANT PLAYERS TO ACT GROWN UP— After Carolina QB Cam Newton mentally disintegrated at the post Super Bowl news conference and walked out…the New York Yankees decided to act. They are showing their players at spring training the right way and wrong way to deal with defeat when talking to the media. Doing it ‘well’ may be filled with sports cliches and tripe but, occasionally, an athlete will go off script and give the reporter and the audience a glimpse at a jock with substance.

Maybe it’s time to eliminate the “what was going through your head?” type of questions altogether? Solid prep would cure that.

‘SO’ IS THE LAZY WAY TO BEGIN A THOUGHT IN 2016— I guess the word is so annoying at the beginning of a sentence. So why is it used there so often these days? Seems to be the lazy person’s way of ‘buying’ a second or two to collect her/his thoughts before launching into conversation. Guess educators are spending less time these days teaching proper English usage (which includes c u r s i v e).

Would you agree? So what else is new?


MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-January 2016 Edition

January 16, 2016

CHI TRIB TRUMPS EMANUEL— What do wannabe president Donald Trump and pleasebelieveme mayor Rahm Emanuel have in common? Tough to think that the word TRUTH is in their vocabularies. The Jan. 14 front-page Trib exposes Emanuel and his flock of flacks as twisters of the truth, withholders of public information and sleazy behind-the-scenes shape shifting after the shooting of Laquan McDonald in October, 2014 by indicted cop Jason Van Dyck. Trump calling John McCain a ‘non-hero’? While the Arizona senator served his country on active duty and as a POW in Viet Nam…Trump used his college status to draft-dodge military service. You’d need a battalion of fact-checkers to follow Trump into his daily political battles where truth, much like Emanuel in Chicago, is an obvious casualty.

The forked-tongue has replaced the straight talk in our lives. The media, as the messenger, makes that abundantly clear.

TOO MUCH NOISE MADE HIM LIE— Matthias Mueller, VW’s CEO, makes a trip to the Detroit Auto Show (Jan12). When asked by an NPR reporter about the major differences in its tests and real-life emissions in his diesel cars, Mueller, with a straight face, said it was a “technical problem” and a misinterpretation of U.S. law. When it was suggested by his folks that his comments were beyond believable, Mueller went back a second time to NPR and apologized for his initial comments blaming them on ‘noisy surroundings’. He went on to add “we fully accept the (emissions) violation. There is no doubt about it.”

Is this blatant communications stupidity learned or is it inherent in so many so-called leaders today?

IN ??? DO WE TRUST— Never overestimate the intelligence of the average voter. A sage Chicago political operator told me that many years ago when I was covering city-county politics for the original WIND. Joe Ganim is the new mayor of Bridgeport, CT. He was elected after spending seven years in prison for extortion, racketeering and bribery. Prior to his stretch in the slammer, he had been the 5-term mayor of the same town. Said a 68-year-old voter “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

Fool me once shame on………….

SAYING IT DOESN’T MAKE IT SO— To improve our diction in 2016, I refer to Lake Superior University’s (MI) annual list of words that should be stricken from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. Starting an answer with the word “so”…
using the word “presser” instead of press conference (so insider-ish)…words like “physicality”, “stakeholder” and “manspreading”.

It’s the second time “so” made the list for a different reason. In 1999, it was used as a modifier , i.e. “I am so down on that list.”


MEDIASTRAIGHTalk-December 2015 Edition

December 6, 2015

IT’S SIMPLY BLACK AND WHITE AND CYNICAL— The Laquan McDonald execution and the furor it has finally raised is the latest chapter in the immense failure of City Hall and Cook County Democratic pols to demonstrate commitment rather than conversation. You know most of this brutal story already. October, 2014 cops corner a black man near 41st and Pulaski. He’s carrying a small knife. and was seen slashing tires. Only one of the cops thinks his life is in danger and pumps 16 9mm bullets into the man. Video dash cams record it all. For some reason the audio on the cams doesn’t work. Police officers then ‘inspect’ the Burger King surveillance camera tape and 86 minutes is suddenly missing. The execution then goes to the Cook County States Attorney for possible charges. Remember we’re talking about October, 2014 and a Chicago mayoral election is just around the corner. And then the city pays the family of the victim $5 million without a lawsuit or a whimper from the city council. And then the mayor gets reelected by beating back the limited efforts of a pol named Chuy and disappointed voters because the Cook County Board President (popular then) decided not to run. And RIGHT NOW you ask yourself these questions—What did they know and when did they know it? As the murders and shootings increase on the south and west sides, the mayor and his aldermanic lackeys (with a few exceptions) turn to the police chief for ‘answers’. He gets none except for silly statistics that few give any credence. The chief? Why he was the mayor’s first choice to change the culture of the Chicago Police Department. Puh-leez. Insiders and outsiders (after Orlando Wilson) who became Top Cops had little or no clout to do that. They just kept the chair warm for the next superintendent. The police officers? Mostly good men and women doing a very tough job in a city geographically and culturally divided into fewer neighborhoods that work and most that don’t. Today, the mayor fired the top cop and appointed a task force to review cop culture and make recommendations. A quick aside—many years ago I covered politics at City Hall and the Legislature in Springfield. A seasoned pol who helped me understand the system told me “Kid, when you got problems, appoint a blue-ribbon committee or task force—BIG names—make a lot of noise—tell them to report back with changes.” Then my friend smiled and added, “thank them for their hard work and shelve it.” Does the Chicago PD need a fumigating? You tell me when its own database says cops were disciplined in 3% of 56,000 misconduct complaints over a 12-year period! In this pathetic Chicago political and murderous drama, what did Emanuel know and when did he know it? What did Alvarez know and when did she know it? What did Preckwinckle know and when did she know it? Former Supt. McCarthy was and is irrelevant in this discussion. He followed orders and sounded like a fool at the end of his tour. The problem was and is a cynical political system that has always taken advantage of a citizenry that’s been most happy with garbage collection and snow plowing. Change has to start at the top—not the bottom. To quote Emanuel–”the shooting of LaQuan McDonald requires more than just talk.” Will you take the OVER or UNDER that Chicago has the political ‘stones’ to solve a morality play where perception and reality are melded together. I’m betting on the UNDER.

From all of us at The Dave Baum Media Training and Presentation Skills Group,we wish you a Happy Chanukah, a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. We hope 2016 brings you truth in communications and standing applause for your presentations.