Choosing the Kardashians Over GoT

We’ve reached the point in our society when we want every micro-action we take to have deep socio-political meaning. As Eduflack writes at LinkedIn Pulse, sometimes we need to accept that television viewing is just entertainment, and shouldn’t be seen as anything more.

We are just as guilty of this in the education space, assuming we know what makes someone tick because of their opinions on an issue such as testing, standards, choice, or teachers unions. And we then ascribe that “tick” to everything they do, from raising their kids to voting.

As I write for Pulse:

In the past decade, I’ve watched more episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians than I have segments of 60 Minutes. After reading five newspapers – The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post – each morning, there just isn’t much more I’m going to get from television news magazines.

I’ve yet to make it through an entire Rachel Maddow show, but I’ve watched plenty of RuPaul’s Drag Race. And plenty of UFC Fight Night on Fox. In short, I’m the Neilsen Ratings’ worst demographic nightmare.

Why is this important? At a time when we should be looking for commonalities and ways to bring people together, we are using more and more – including our media consumption – as ways to divide and ascribe potentially mistaken personas.

Give it a read. And if you are up for it, come catch an episode of the Kardashians or a UFC match with me. It’ll be entertaining, I promise.

Does the Media Really Need a Listening Tour?

Since the November election, mainstream media outlets have made pilgrimages to “flyover” states to better understand those millions of people who voted for Trump. Using the book Hillbilly Elegy as their Frommer’s Guide to Red America, reporters have returned with tales of low incomes, opioid abuse, American flags, and Bible verses. They’ve written how those who voted for Trump will be most negatively impacted by his policy recommendations. And they’ve questioned how such voters can remain so loyal to such a President.

In its dogged pursuit of a President, the media has, both indirectly and directly, called into question the intelligence and motives of the voters who elected him. As a result, those same voters gravitate to the media outlets they are most comfortable with. Maddow or Hannity? New York Times or New York Post? NPR or Rush? HuffPo or Breitbart?

From Eduflack’s latest on LinkedIn Plus, Do Media Really Need a “Listen to America” Tour?

 

A “Chicken Little” Political Resistance 

The Resistance is based on a negative frame, standing up against all that it sees as wrong and immoral. But it does so without putting forward a positive vision or an alternate plan. And it does so by insulting those individuals who voted the other way, attacking the very intelligence and morality of the average red voter. The Resistance is a protest movement. It makes no bones about that. But If those issues it pounds away on don’t come to fruition, it appears as much ado about nothing to those not in the protest. It is merely a group of true believers providing comfort to other true believers.

From Eduflack’s latest US News & World Report commentary, The Sky Isn’t Falling

Chasing Social Media Squirrels 

The public can attack President Trump for Twitter behavior that is beneath the office, but it shouldn’t ignore that while we let an entire media cycle get dominated by a Tweet about a morning show host on a cable network, the Trump Administration put into place new regulations regarding the profiles of people who can enter the United States from certain countries and what they are allowed to bring with them when they enter our borders. And we might want to question what really deserves our limited, ADHD attentions.

From Eduflack’s latest on President Trump and the public responses to his social media activities 

Celebrating West Virginia’s Country Roads

On this day in 1863, the great state of West Virginia was formally admitted into the Union. While Eduflack may consider himself a Jersey boy, it is hard to forget that I am also a proud graduate of West Virginia public schools (Jefferson County Consolidated High School in Shenandoah Junction, West Virginia, to be exact).

And while I left “By God” West Virginia for college, going across state lines to attend Mr. Jefferson’s University of Virginia, I went on to serve my adopted home of West Virginia. For years, I served as an aide to Senator Robert C. Byrd, a tremendous leader who shaped me in many ways. From the history of the Senate to the intricacies of the appropriations process to a thorough respect for the voters, Senator Byrd taught me the foundations that my professional life is built on today. He also inspired me to be the writer that I am today (spurred when he asked me to write him an hour-long speech linking the rhetoric of Aristotle and ancient Greece with the celebration of July 4th).

But I started my career in public service as a staffer to U.S. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, the then “junior” senator from the Mountain State. Twenty five years ago this summer, to be exact. It was as an intern for Senator Rockefeller that I penned my first congressional floor statement, a statement that Rockefeller read on the Senate floor on June 19, 1992 to commemorate West Virginia’s 129th birthday. It seems appropriate to share that statement today, delivered far better by Senator Rockefeller than Eduflack’s still developing writing deserved.

Mr. President, today I rise to speak to you in honor of the people of the great State of West Virginia in recognition of our State’s 129th birthday.
On the 20th of June in 1863, the State of West Virginia was born.  The product of a crisis between the States, West Virginia earned its place as the 35th State to join the Union, through incredible bravery and initiative.
This spirit of initiative has remained with our fair State since its inception.  The proud people of West Virginia have consistently served this country through the good times and the bad.  We have fought valiantly for our country, we have provided for our families through hardship and prosperity, and we have worked to establish the greatest community, State, and country that we possibly could.
Mountaineer pride is evident still today, throughout the State.  This pride has attracted hundreds of thousands of vacationers to our fair State.  They have fallen in love with our majestic mountains ideal for skiing, our racing white water rivers, and our beautiful national parks.  One only needs to open any local West Virginia newspaper to see the numerous letters written from vacationers commending the State on both its attractions and its people.
THis feeling has led many people to continue to visit the Mountain State and has brought many more to relocate permanently in our fair State for good.  Thanks to the hospitality and kindness of West Virginia’s native residents, our Mountain State quickly becomes home for her new citizens, and remains a place where pride and hard work thrive.
So, on this, the 129th birthday of our State, I ask you, Mr. President, and my other colleagues, to join me in recognizing this important day for West Virginia, and for all her citizens who have made West Virginia a State that I am proud to represent and call home.

The Consequences of Free Speech

“While it isn’t difficult to understand the calls to support that which we believe strongly and attack that from which we recoil, recent activities surrounding the Public Theater and Megyn Kelly teach us one important lesson – free speech does not mean speech free of consequence.”

From Eduflack’s latest essay, “Sorry Social Media Mob, But Free Speech Is Not Free of Consequence,” at LinkedIn Pulse 

A Textbook Case of Bad Crisis PR

Before Eduflack focused his attentions completely on education policy and school improvement, I used to spend my days in crisis communications. I counseled Fortune 500 companies, national non-profits, and name-brand politicians on how to navigate potentially crippling PR issues that they did, or that were done to them. And I was pretty good at it.

So in watching the Kathy Griffin PR fiasco unfold this week, I was aghast with how poorly she was advised (or how poorly she did what she was advised to do). Over at LinkedIn Pulse, dear ol’ Eduflack offers some analysis of how Griffin went wrong, and what she should have done.

The big takeways? Take responsibility for one’s actions. Don’t look to blame other people, Don’t make it a racial issue when you are a privileged white person. Don’t make it a gender issue when it has nothing to do with gender politics. And don’t forget to say you are sorry while promising to do better.

Give it a read. Remember the advice. Hopefully, you’ll never need it.