Join Us In NYC For Our Two Day Media Workshop May 14-15, 2012

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 29, 2012 – 3:36 pm

This workshop has already taken place. Please click here to see our current media and presentation training schedule.

Please join us in New York City on Monday, May 14 and Tuesday, May 15, 2012 for a special two-day message development, media training and crisis communications workshop.

This session is perfect for spokespersons of companies, non-profit organizations and government agencies; book authors and marketers; and any other experts and individuals who interact with the media.

This workshop is appropriate for spokespersons with any level of experience. Although we’ll cover all of the basics beginners need to know, we’ll teach them at an advanced level that experienced pros will also learn from.

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, this session is for you:

Do I lack a compelling message?

Could I be more effective when communicating with the media?

Would my reputation be at risk if I suddenly had to communicate with the public and the press during a crisis?

During the two-day workshop, you will learn how to:

  • Develop a winning media message
  • Successfully incorporate memorable statistics, stories and sound bites into your answers
  • Master the rules of working with the media
  • Confidently interview for print, radio and television
  • Get the headline you want
  • Take control of an interview
  • Transition from a reporter’s questions to your answers
  • Answer the tough questions
  • Spot and avoid journalist tricks
  • Look great on television, sound great on radio
  • Focus on non-verbal communication
  • Plan for the crises that are most likely to impact your organization
  • Communicate credibly during a media crisis
  • Interview for on-line and social media


You will learn by:

  • Being interviewed on-camera at least twice and reviewing your clips with the trainer
  • Participating in breakout exercises and drills to refine your skills
  • Reviewing videos of the good, the bad, and the ugly
  • Looking at case studies that worked – and those that didn’t


After the workshop, you will:

  1. 1. Have three winning media messages (and supporting messages), which we will develop together during the workshop.
  2. 2. Know the three specific things you should focus on the most to dramatically improve your performance during media interviews
  3. 3. Be able to put together a crisis plan for your company, organization, or government agency and conduct effective crisis drills


The enrollment fee includes:

  1. Training with Mr. Media Training author Brad Phillips
  2. Our messaging, media training, and crisis communications handbook
  3. A modern and comfortable conference room with a professional camera, lights, and television

New York City Times Square

Your travel to New York City:

  1. We are centrally located in Midtown Manhattan near most major subway lines.
  2. We are located approximately 5 minutes from Grand Central Station, 15 minutes from Penn Station, 30 minutes from LaGuardia Airport, and 40 minutes from JFK Airport.
  3. We will provide you with nearby hotel recommendations to make your trip to NYC easier.


To register:

  1. The registration fee is $1,395 per attendee; rate of $1,195 per person available for groups of three of more registering at the same time.
  2. To register, please call 212-376-5070 or send an email to to request a credit card authorization form.
  3. Both days will begin at 9:00a.m. and end at 5:00p.m., with a one-hour break for lunch between Noon – 1 p.m.



For more information:

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February 2012: The Eight Worst Video Media Disasters (Part 1)

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 29, 2012 – 6:14 am

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, public figures go off and commit another bunch of gaffes you never saw coming.

I have to admit that I didn’t anticipate contraception roaring back to the headlines this month, especially when it involved stale jokes straight out of 1953.

Or that a public figure would try to hit a reporter with her car.

Or that a male sports anchor thought calling a female athlete the “b-word” was a good idea.

In fact, there were so many gaffes this month, I’ve had to divide the list into two parts. Today, you’ll find numbers 5-8; tune in tomorrow for numbers 1-4.

Here, without further ado, is part one of February’s eight worst video media disasters.

8. Jerry Sandusky Speaks. Again. Please Make Him Stop. 

Alleged Penn State child rapist and overall creep Jerry Sandusky delivered three minutes of rambling  comments following a hearing earlier this month. It’s incomprehensible why his attorney still lets him speak, especially after throwing out gems such as, “All of a sudden, because of allegations…I can’t take my dog on my deck and throw out biscuits to him.”


8a. Even More Sandusky Madness

If you thought Jerry Sandusky was the only creep in the family, try again. His wife Dottie almost ran over a reporter – on purpose – earlier this month.


7. Rick Santorum Supporter Offers Inexpensive Contraception Option

Foster Friess, a major supporter to Rick Santorum’s Super PAC, made headlines earlier this month when he weighed in on the issue of contraception. “Back in my days,” he said, “they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly.” 

Mr. Friess claimed afterwards that he was joking. Perhaps he was. Regardless, the strange comment took his favored candidate way off message, as Santorum spent days trying to fend off questions about his reaction to the comment.


6. Quarterback’s Wife a Bad Sport

During the last drive of the Super Bowl, a couple of New England Patriots receivers dropped passes they probably should have caught. Immediately following the game, the wife of Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, was heckled by a couple of Giants fans.

Let’s just say her reply probably didn’t endear her to her husband’s teammates.


5. Sports Anchor Calls Female Race Car Driver a Bitch

KSWB Fox5 San Diego Sports Anchor Ross Shimabuku vented against race car driver Danica Patrick earlier this month during a strangely misogynistic rant. My impression after watching the video, in which he also called Ms. Patrick a pretty “girl?” Mr. Shimabuku has some issues with women.

Click here for part two, which contains the four worst media disasters of the month.

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I Have 12 Radio Interviews. What Should I Say?

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 28, 2012 – 6:12 am

I recently received an email from Mike in Australia, who has a rather fortunate problem: He has 12 radio interviews coming up and will get to select the topics – but he doesn’t know how to come up with topics for 12 separate interviews. He writes:

“I’m in Australia and have an education agency in the Philippines. I’ll be going there in March as the town is having a big festival and we’ve bought radio advertising space.

We asked to have an interview as part of the deal. I was expecting a one off interview, but then the station manager said, you can have an interview everyday, for approximately 5 minutes.

If it was a one off interview, that’s fine, but a series of interviews, 12 days in total, I’m not sure what to prepare. We’ve been brainstorming what to include in the 12 days. Such as, Q and A, listeners can ask questions via text or email and we’ll answer it the next day. Maybe even have a competition. If you’re able to pass on any suggestions on what we can prepare, that would be great.”


First of all, congratulations! What a nice problem to have. But you’re right that it’s not easy to come up with 12 different topics, so here are a few ideas.

  1. 1. First, I’d start with the basics: your messages. Who is your radio audience, and what do you want them to know? Just as importantly, what does the audience want or need from you? You mentioned that you have an education agency – what are the problems you’re trying to solve, and what are your solutions? Create three messages that represent a combination of what you want them to know, along with what they need from you.
  2. 2. Once you create your three messages, I suggest developing two stories and two statistics for each message that help reinforce them.
  3. 3. When you’re finished with the above two steps, you’ll have 15 different angles, all of which are consistent with your brand message. Take a look at all 15. I’m guessing many of them can be turned into a standalone segment.
  4. For example, let’s say one of your statistics is “22,000 children in Manila aren’t getting their special education needs met by government-run schools.” That could easily become a segment:  who are these 22,000 children, why aren’t they getting their needs met, and how can you help them get the special education they need?
  5. 4. To help make your messages, statistics, and stories even more relevant, look for local news pegs. Can you talk about your messages in the context of a child who was just on the front page of a local newspaper? Has a government panel recently met on some of the issues you work on? Has a new school opened that is doing things better?
  6. 5. Remember to insert a call-to-action. What do you want listeners to do after hearing your segments? Should they call a certain phone number, visit a website, or walk into one of your locations?
  7. 6. Finally, I like your idea of Q & A’s and contests. But you might want to check into the audience size first. If the station has a small audience or if the majority of listeners are in remote areas without access to telephones, text messages and/or an Internet connection, your efforts to interact with them may fall flat.

In addition to developing ideas for your interviews, these three articles focus on how you can deliver your interviews with the passion and energy they deserve.

I hope these ideas help. Thanks for writing, and good luck with your interviews!

Readers: What other advice would you offer Mike? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Posted in Media Training: Message | 2 Comments »

Why Mitt Romney Is In The Worst Of Two Worlds

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 27, 2012 – 6:12 am

Perhaps you’ve noticed: Mitt Romney is rich.

Really rich. By some estimates, he’s worth as much as $200 million. He brought in a cool $20.9 million last year.

So it’s no surprise that Romney thinks and acts like a rich guy. And his rich guy persona keeps slipping out, seemingly accidentally, since each slip takes his campaign “severely” off message. He tells audiences that he “likes being able to fire people,” informs interviewers that he’s “not concerned about the very poor,” casually makes $10,000 bets, dismisses his $374,000 in speaking fee income as “not very much,” brags about putting his political opponents into debt, claims that while he’s not an ardent NASCAR fan he has “some friends who are NASCAR team owners,” and stays in the ritziest hotels while on the campaign trail.

I know, it sounds like I‘m begrudging Mr. Romney his success. I’m not. He figured out a legal way to make a lot of money, went after it, and succeeded.

But his condescending attempts to present himself as a “man of the people” have bordered on pathetic. He recently told one audience that, “there were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip,” and told another, “I’m also unemployed.” He claimed that he lives on the “real streets of America” (many real streets, actually, each with a multi-million dollar home). And he tried to establish his “Buy American” bona fides last week by saying that his wife Ann “drives a couple of Cadillacs.”

As a result, Mr. Romney finds himself in the worst of two worlds. On one hand, he’s a rich guy whose privileged life keeps slipping out through obliviously tone-deaf gaffes. On the other hand, he’s pretending to be a populist who personally relates to the financial struggles of ordinary Americans.

I understand why Mr. Romney’s advisers didn’t want him to run as a “rich guy” candidate. With income inequality at record-high levels and Romney’s image as a corporate raider, his wealth could easily be viewed as a campaign-killing liability. But Mr. Romney’s chronic gaffes have rendered that strategy impossible. It’s time for Romney to start running as the person he really is: a rich guy.

“Rich guy” candidates often win. Jon Corzine served as both Senator and Governor from New Jersey, and Michael Bloomberg is serving his third term as New York City mayor. And although he didn’t win, billionaire Ross Perot led the polls during his 1992 presidential run. But all three candidates used their wealth as a positive talking point, convincing voters that their wealth allowed them to serve without being compromised. Mr. Romney hasn’t sold himself on a similar promise.

Instead of hiding from his wealth, Mr. Romney should start explaining why his wealth will help the American people. His accumulation of wealth has exposed for him both the opportunities that the system affords ordinary Americans, as well as the abusive loopholes that should be closed. That knowledge, deployed properly, could be of great value to the American people.

Since the beginning of the 24/7 media age in 1980, there have been eight general elections. The candidate who has been perceived as being the most comfortable in his own skin has won all eight. Mr. Romney should stop presenting himself as what he thinks the public wants to see from him, and should start being himself. That means we’d see an unabashed rich guy. And as long as he sells that as a positive, it would be a step in the right direction for his campaign.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Posted in Election 2012 (GOP) | 9 Comments »

What I’ve Learned As A Spokesperson: John Fitzpatrick

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 24, 2012 – 6:12 am

Editor’s Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of readers sharing what they’ve learned as media spokespersons. Would you like to submit your own article? Click here to learn more about how to submit a piece for the “What I’ve Learned as a Media Spokesperson” series.

Earlier in my career, I was a spokesman for the rail industry, to include both freight and passenger trains.

The day after an Amtrak train crashed, I was conducting a live remote interview for one of the cable networks. As the remote producer put the IFB in my ear, I could hear the segment producer during the commercial break prepping the anchor for my interview…and she obviously did not realize I was already on the line. She gave the anchor the particulars on the crash then teed up my interview. She said I was there to defend the industry’s safety record and that – while I was making that point – they’d cut to dramatic video of the train cars on their side, scattered down the tracks.

Clearly my defense of the industry via spoken word was about to be undercut with broadcast video that suggested otherwise.

Rather than get defensive or combative on air, what I ended up doing was flipping the video on its head. When the anchor asked me the obvious safety question, I made two points. First, I noted there was dramatic video of the train cars but then observed that no passengers were seriously injured – a testament to the safe design of those train cars despite how they might look on TV. Second, I said that while this was a serious incident, it also stood out as a news item because such crashes are extremely rare and passenger deaths are even rarer.

John Fitzpatrick

What I learned here were a few things. To be credible, you sometimes must concede an obvious point – but that does not mean you must concede on your overall message. The crash was dramatic and it would have been silly of me to suggest otherwise. That, however, is a far cry from conceding the industry is unsafe – which it is not.

Also, when it comes to TV (especially when you are remote and can’t see what they are airing), anticipate the video. Of course they were going to show dramatic video, so that was no surprise. I was prepared even if they hadn’t mistakenly confirmed it to me in advance. Finally, it’s ironic that a media training lesson we all remind our clients was lost on the news media itself in this case: the microphone is always on.

John F. Fitzpatrick is a senior partner with Stratacomm. He tweets at @FitzFiles.

Submit your own article for the “What I’ve Learned as a Spokesperson” series. Details here.

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Posted in Reader Submissions | Please Comment »

Postscript: The Four Media Untouchables

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 23, 2012 – 10:31 am

Earlier this week, I discussed the “four media untouchables” – small children, the elderly, animals, and the disabled.

I offered an example from a former client, a water company executive who was about to turn off the water for a wheelchair-bound customer who was three years past due on his water bills. Despite being well within his rights to cut off the service, doing so might have created a P.R. nightmare for the executive. After all, the media would have presented the big, bad water company as the mean-spirited Goliath, whereas the wheelchair-bound man would be viewed as a sympathetic David.

My advice to the water company executive? Keep the water on. He might be well within his rights to cut it off, but doing so would potentially create a much bigger problem for the company.

A few readers wrote me, wondering how the executive could have handled the situation if he had decided to cut off the water anyway.

David wrote:

“It would not be abusive for the company to turn the guy’s water off; especially, since he owed it a ton of money, he refused to pay anything, and he refused to speak with the company…If I were that exec, I would have said something like, "My job is to protect profits. I can’t alone decide to have all the other customers of my company involuntarily subsidize a customer who refuses to pay his bill. Our company has established a bank account to receive donations to pay for service to this disabled customer. Anyone who wishes to donate to it may do so."


That’s a reasonable start, but I’d be concerned that the executive saying that his “job is to protect profits” would only reinforce the perception of the unfeeling Goliath.

Ted wondered:

“What if the media took the opposite approach and covered the story as ‘company acting slothfully and wastefully?’ While decidedly better than David vs. Goliath, a quick second favorite story theme is the organization as bureaucratic, confused and lazy. For instance, the media could write that while other customers are nickel-and-dimed, this person is allowed to face no consequences. What message would that send to people who work hard each month to pay their bills, even when they are facing financial hardships?”


That’s an interesting thought, and I like the approach it suggests, since it would help the executive articulate his concerns in the context of his primary audience, his customers. Therefore, I might add the best parts of both answers, and try something like this:

“We have great concern for this man, which is why we have tried to contact him for three years. But it takes two sides to have a conversation, and he has refused to speak to us. In the end, we have an obligation to protect the rates that every other customer pays – and if we allow customers not to pay for years at a time, it forces us to raise rates for everyone else. We don’t think that’s fair. But we’d still like to help this man, so we’ve set up a private bank account for concerned members of the community to help him through their donations. I’ve started the account by personally donating $250. You can find more information about where to contribute on our website.”


What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Posted in Crisis Communications | 7 Comments »

Scorecard: February 22, 2012 Republican Debate

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 22, 2012 – 11:03 pm

Tonight’s debate – the 20th of this election cycle – came less than one week before the possibly decisive Michigan and Arizona primaries.

Coming into tonight’s debate, Sen. Rick Santorum had the national lead in most polls, was narrowly leading most Michigan polls, and was closing the gap in Arizona. Did he do enough to retain his new frontrunner status, or did he fumble the political football on his opponent’s ten yard line?

Here are tonight’s grades in order of best to worst:

RON PAUL (1st Place, Grade: B+)

Rep. Paul had one of his better debates tonight.

One of his best moments came on international policy, when he said the United States shouldn’t be talking about war with Iran. He told the crowd that although he recognizes that he won’t win the moral or constitutional argument in the short-term, he would win the economic one right away. He then offered a passionate plea to his opponents: if you’re going to lead us into war, at least get a declaration of war from Congress. “The obligation should be the oath to the office,” he said, “not the oath to the party.”

Dr. Paul also got a few digs in, shrugging his shoulders and laughing while calling Rick Santorum a “fake.” No other candidate could get away with such a direct attack, and Mr. Santorum offered a minimal defense, weakly telling Paul, “I’m real.”

Paul made a questionable assertion at the end of the night, when he was asked what the biggest media misconception about him is. He said it was “the media myth” that he couldn’t win. As a reminder, Ron Paul lost all 50 states in 2008, and is winless after nine contests this year. That makes him “0 for 59,” hardly a media myth and more an obvious electoral reality.

But he was right on the one word that defined him more than any other: “consistent.” Even his harshest critics would have a tough time making the case that his adjective of choice is anything but spot on.

NEWT GINGRICH (2nd Place, Grade: B)

Speaker Gingrich had a decent night tonight, but didn’t fundamentally do anything to help resurrect his flagging campaign.

As usual, he used strong language, lashing out that it is “utterly stupid to say the United States can’t control the border.” He also used evocative language, saying, “I’m inclined to believe dictators.” That line, of course, could be used against him in political ads – if his opponents determine that he’s relevant enough to be worthy of their attacks. I don’t expect they will.

Mr. Gingrich spoke of a “modern management system” in four answers. I’ve yet to hear a political base – especially one craving a strong emotional appeal – fired up about that kind of process-oriented language. A new “management system” may be good government, but it’s unlikely to influence tens of thousands of voters to suddenly change their votes.

When asked to define himself in one word, Mr. Gingrich selected, “cheerful.” It’s better than “strategery” or “lockbox,” but let’s hope he meant that one sarcastically.

MITT ROMNEY (3rd Place, Grade: B-)

It’s hard to know whether Mitt Romney had a good night or whether Rick Santorum had a bad one. Graded objectively, Gov. Romney didn’t do much to make himself look more likable or relatable tonight. But sometimes, the strongest candidate is the one left standing at the end of the battle as his opponents eliminate themselves one-by-one.

Mr. Romney did have some good moments, twisting the metaphorical knife in Rick Santorum’s side when Santorum started flailing. He derided one of Santorum’s answers, saying, “I didn’t follow all of that,” and reminded viewers that Santorum had voted for the infamous Bridge to Nowhere.

Somehow, Romney even managed to lay blame at Santorum’s feet for “ObamaCare,” saying, “Don’t look at me, take a look in the mirror.” His point, which contained a bit of twisted logic, was that because Santorum had supported moderate Republican Senator Arlen Specter over the more conservative Pat Toomey, Republicans lost a critical vote against President Obama’s health care law.

Mr. Romney had a few off moments, but they didn’t play terribly on television, thanks to the obviously pro-Romney crowd. He dodged the last question of the night, when he was asked about what misconceptions the public has about him. When reminded of the original question by moderator John King, Romney retorted: “You get to ask the questions you want, I get to answer the questions I want.”

And when asked to define himself, he used the word, “resolute.” That shows either a shocking lack of self-awareness or a brazen attempt to recreate his political past.

RICK SANTORUM (4th Place, Grade: C-)

This was a bad night for Rick Santorum.

As the new GOP frontrunner, he was predictably attacked by his three opponents. But instead of transitioning to safer ground, he spent most of the night on the defensive, trying in vain to explain his way out of corners instead of just moving to the center of the ring.

For example, during one particularly grueling answer on his support for No Child Left Behind, he earned the enmity of the pro-Romney crowd with a long, process-oriented answer, followed by a lecture that “politics is a team sport.” He ended his answer by boosting his credentials as a “home schooling father of seven.”

A better approach would have been to begin his answer with his home schooling bona fides instead of adding them at the end as an afterthought. He should have used that technique during the entire evening, beginning each answer with a strong, action-oriented headline instead of getting mired in explanations about the slow-churning legislative process.

It wasn’t all bad for Santorum. He offered a passionate defense about the importance of family, and delivered a strong retort to Ron Paul’s assertion that his voting record wasn’t conservative enough. He helped diminish the controversies surrounding his views on contraception by saying, “Just because I’m talking about it doesn’t mean I want a government program to fix it.”

He also got a good line off when Mitt Romney bragged about balancing the Massachusetts state budget: “[Former Massachusetts Democratic Governor] Michael Dukakis balanced the budget for ten years. Does that make him qualified to be president? I don’t think so.”

Overall, though, Mr. Santorum had a bad night at the worst possible moment for his campaign. Don’t be surprised if his poll numbers slip a bit between now and next Tuesday.

COMMENTS? Do you agree or disagree with my analysis? Please leave your opinion in the comment section below, but remember the blog’s comment policy – no ad hominem attacks or pejorative name-calling will be posted.

Did you miss the 10 worst media disasters of 2011? Click here to catch up!

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Posted in Election 2012 (GOP) | 5 Comments »

Accepting Submissions: What I’ve Learned As Spokesperson

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 22, 2012 – 6:12 am

I’m pleased to announce a new feature that will allow readers to learn from one another. Plus, it will give you an opportunity to gain some free publicity!

What have you learned about being a media spokesperson? Have you:

  1. Learned a vital lesson as a result of making a big mistake while speaking to a reporter?
  2. Remembered a piece of advice from a mentor that has served you well throughout your media interviews?
  3. Come to any conclusions about being a media spokesperson as a result of years of trial and error?

Whether you’re a new spokesperson who’s still learning the ropes or a veteran who’s teaching others, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned in your role as a media spokesperson.

Over the next few months, I’ll publish many of your responses as standalone articles on the blog.

Here are the submission details:

  1. Please write an article that runs between 300-500 words. You can write about any of the topics suggested above, or anything else that fits beneath the headline, “What I’ve Learned as a Media Spokesperson.”
  2. Please focus on one or two specific things you’ve learned in your role as a media spokesperson. Specific anecdotes are encouraged, but not required.
  3. Provide your name, title, organization, how long you’ve worked as a communicator, a link to your website or blog, and a head shot.
  4. Email your articles to (please do not leave it in the comments section).
  5. Your article must be exclusive to the Mr. Media Training Blog.
  6. There is no submission deadline, but the first submissions received will be among the first published.

This is the first time I’m opening up the blog to submissions from readers, and I’m very much looking forward to reading your work, learning from you, and sharing your work with others! And please share this link with others who might want to submit a post.

As always, thank you very much for reading. Now, get writing!

Here’s a terrific sample of a guest post, from PR pro John Fitzpatrick.

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

    Brad Phillips

    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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