Washington Post’s Marty Baron Speaks at Tufts Medical Center Working Wonders Gala


By Vice Chairman Cosmo Macero Jr. 

With a Trump Administration that creates its own reality, and a White House communications strategy of undermining public confidence in the Fourth Estate, it’s a sad state of affairs that Americans, perhaps more than ever, need powerful reminders of the importance of a free press.

And so Washington Post editor Marty Baron delivered just that on Tuesday night at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. The former Boston Globe editor – flanked by many of his former colleagues from the Pulitzer prize-winning Globe Spotlight Team – was in town to receive the Ellen Zane Award for Visionary Leadership at the Tufts Medical Center Working Wonders Gala.

“The President has said (the White House) is at war with the press. Well I’m here to tell you we are not at war,” Baron told close to 900 attendees at the annual event, which this year highlighted the groundbreaking work of Tufts MC’s CardioVascular Center. “We are at work.”

The fundamental mission of the press remains unchanged, Baron said, even as technology and digital media platforms have had a dramatic and challenging impact on the news business. The job of the Post and other media holding the Trump White House accountable is straightforward: “Find truth. Verify. And publish,” Baron said.

Baron, who in addition to steering the Post newsroom through an unprecedented period in presidential and political history, is also charged with maintaining high quality journalism while the business evolves rapidly and sometimes unpredictably in a digital media age. He credited Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, with respecting the generations-old culture of the news organization while still encouraging innovation. He said the Post has a “commitment to experimentation” and noted that its digital presence is now rivaling that of the New York Times.

“The internet is a fundamentally different medium. News organizations that want to succeed must tell stories in new ways,” Baron said. “We are becoming technology organizations. But “no matter how our business changes, our values stay the same.”

March Madness: American Health Care Act

“I’m just a bill, sitting here on Capitol Hill..” 

Schoolhouse rock Bill

The American Health Care Act of 2017 was pulled before a probable defeat on the floor of the House of Representatives today. Here’s a recap of its journey.

After months of anticipation and secrecy, the American Health Care Act of 2017 plan was released by House Republicans on March 6th consisting of two bills. One bill was introduced into the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the other to the House Ways and Means Committee.  The bills passed both committees the next day on a party-line vote and without a Congressional Budget Report (CBO) cost analysis.  It wasn’t until March 13th that the CBO released its budget estimates. The CBO report is often used as a tool for debate prior to any votes. On March 16th the bill passed the House Budget Committee with a vote of 19-17.  It’s important to note that three Republicans on that committee joined the Democrats in opposition.  The bill, HR 1628, then went to the House Rules Committee which sets the terms for the final debate when the bill comes to the House floor for a vote.  The committee approved a provision that allows for the “same-day” rule (or often referred to as martial law), essentially allowing the bill to be voted on the same day even as it is still having changes made to it before being voted out of committee.

In contrast to the fast movement of the American Health Care Act, the Affordable Care Act during the Obama Administration underwent months of negotiations, markup, and debate before its final passage.   It was introduced by Speaker Pelosi in July of 2009 and passed in the House November 2009 and was ultimately not signed into law by then President Obama until March 23, 2010.

Here’s a visual recap of its journey:

AHCA HR 1628.png

OA’s Quick Take on the Second 2016 Presidential Debate


Sunday, October 9th marked the second presidential debate of the 2016 Election. Coming on the heels of a scandal that drove dozens of supporters away from the Trump campaign, many Americans were anxious to see how the debate would take shape. Our team shares their initial reactions below:

  1. Hillary walked out strong, confident, smiling. Trump seemed reluctant, nervous.
  2. If you were a Trump supporter, he came out and did exactly what you wanted him to do. He did enough to stop his landslide. And he clearly did some prep. It was still not enough to drastically improve his debate performance, but he performed better on the first few questions of this debate than in the last one.
  3. Locker room talk is no excuse for the language used by Trump in the leaked 2005 video. It’s a sorry explanation, especially after his terrible apology.
  4. The visual of Trump lurking behind Hillary will likely be the lasting memory from this debate, and it was not a good look for him. It made viewers uncomfortable – not just women, but also men.
  5. The questions from the audience were very broad, and given the challenges that this campaign has had on focusing on policy, I think that the broadness of the questions did not help in that effort. I think that this audience should have been encouraged to write questions with more specifics regarding policy.
  6. It seems that Trump believes being President is essentially acting on one’s own and clearly has a lack of understanding about the government’s system of checks and balances. This is an exaggerated statement, but there is some truth to it. He seems to think that one senator has a lot of power.
  7. I don’t think that this debate changes any of the fundamentals of the election. Trump may have shored up collapsing support from the Republican Party, but he did nothing to expand his base. Hillary continued to look substantive and presidential, which is what she needed to convey.

Share your insights and takeaways with our team on Twitter @oneillandassoc or by using #OAPolitics. Learn more about our digital communications and social media management capabilities here


Trump Goes Low, Ends on Even Lower Note after Second Debate

By Cosmo Macero Jr.

Cosmo Macero Jr.It’s become almost impossible to look at this race from any perspective other than: “Can you imagine this person as the actual President?”

The answer with Trump has been “no” for quite some time. Yet even with the terrible 48 hours he experienced following the release of his vulgar remarks, the opportunity existed for him to at least win a big campaign moment by delivering a very different kind of performance in the debate.

He didn’t.

Trump actually survived the agonizing start – the harsh scolding from Hillary – and the necessary relentlessness from both moderators on his vulgarity and cavalier boasting of sexual assault. But when it was time to move on he simply could not break out of #TheDonald mode.

The prowling of the stage and the sniffling sounds and the frowns and furrowed brow and other various looks continued to betray a candidate with no self-control, and no ability to disguise his emotions – qualities that one does not value in a head of state.

As one colleague of mine put it: “It would be good to play poker with Donald Trump.”

The thumping defeat Trump suffered in the first debate outweighed the more subtle loss he sustained in the second. There was so very much he needed to do to even make a dent with a single voter who wasn’t already absolutely devoted to him. It was too big a hill to climb. He did little or nothing to win back the Republicans who have fled his cause like a listing ocean liner. And if he was able, perhaps, to stabilize his stalwart “base” – it’s with the knowledge that it won’t alone be enough to win the presidency.

Cosmo Macero Jr. is a senior vice president in O’Neill and Associates’ communications division. To continue the conversation, connect with him on Twitter or email him at cosmo@oneillandassoc.com

A Week In Review: Debate Fallout Exacerbates Challenges for Trump Campaign

By Peter Ubertaccio

2016-10_ubertaccio_0087Donald Trump’s slide in the polls seems to confirm conventional wisdom that his widely panned performance last Monday has doomed his candidacy.

That’s both right and wrong.

Trump turned in one of the most dismal debate performances in modern times.  It began a week of negatives featuring the body shaming of a former Miss Universe, reports that he hasn’t paid income taxes in over a decade, and an order for the Trump Foundation to cease its activities.

The debate seems like the high point of the week.

I was lucky enough to be inside the debate hall where the audience reactions reaffirmed what was happening across the country.  Though we couldn’t see the split screen that the viewing audience saw, and thus missed the important contradictions between Trump’s words and Clinton’s reactions, it was notable that Trump’s outbursts largely landed like thuds.

Though scattered applause occurred, I mostly saw heads shaking in disbelief as Trump harangued his way through 90 minutes.  That’s telling because the campaigns both had an equal number of tickets to the debate.  Clinton and Trump supporters were scattered throughout the hall seated next to each other.  Hofstra students and those who attended as guests of the Commission on Presidential debates helped to fill up the hall.

Moderator Lester Holt tried to discourage applause or boos but a partisan and political junkie crowd is not easily cowed into silence.

Polls released yesterday by CNN confirm the collapse.  Trump and Clinton were virtually tied in early September.  Now she’s pulling away.  States like North Carolina remain tight but he has been unable to fight back in Virginia, Colorado, or New Hampshire.  He cannot get to 270 electoral votes without Florida and Clinton continues to lead in the Sunshine state.

Indeed every post debate poll shows a growing lead for Clinton.

It’s tempting to say that the debate has caused this.  But it’s much more complicated.

Recall that Mitt Romney bested Barack Obama in their first encounter.  John Kerry was widely viewed as the winner in all three of his debates with George W. Bush. Ronald Reagan’s first debate with Walter Mondale was so dismal for the incumbent that Reagan’s mental health became the subject of national conversation.

Obama, Bush, and Reagan were not ultimately harmed by debates as the fundamentals of the race favored them.   This race favors Clinton.

The debate magnified the doubts that many have held about Donald Trump for a very long time.    Voters have by wide margins questioned Trump’s temperament.  Last week’s debate confirmed their doubts.

It’s this long standing concern about his caustic style and chaotic campaign that is harming Donald Trump, not his poor debating skills.

Professor Peter Ubertaccio is Professor Politics, a blogger at MassPoliticsProfs, and a political analyst. He serves as the Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Programs and as Director of the Joseph Martin Institute for Law & Society at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter at @professoru for more of his political insight and analysis. 

CEO’s Corner: Does Brexit Help Trump’s Candidacy?

220px-Thomas_P_O'Neill_IIIOn Thursday, June 23rd, I had the honor and privilege of attending the inaugural lecture of the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Chair in Peace at the Ulster University-Magee in Derry, Northern Ireland. The keynote speaker, Dr. Arun Gandhi – the grandson of India’s legendary leader – delivered the inaugural lecture, which was entitled “Building a Culture of Peace: Lessons from My Grandfather.” His message was a valuable reminder of the peace and prosperity prevalent throughout Northern Ireland today – and how many dedicated people and years of hard work it has taken to guide the peacebuilding process to this point.

The following morning, I woke up in Derry to the distressing news that approximately 52 percent of voters in the United Kingdom had voiced their support for a “Brexit,” choosing to withdraw from the European Union. I immediately began to consider what this could mean for the peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, as a whole. Both Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to remain in the European Union, causing Sinn Fein to call for an increase in border security.

The Brexit referendum garnered a 72 percent voter turnout – an unprecedented number that illustrates constituents’ overwhelming desire to voice an opinion about their country’s future. The Leave campaign declared victory with 52 percent of the vote, echoing the growing support that the populist movement in the UK has gained in recent years.

At present, there is no way to comprehend the full effect of Brexit on the United Kingdom, the European Union or the world. One outcome is clear, however. Brexit is a cautionary tale of what could happen in the United States come November, if American voters don’t fully appreciate the consequences that our election will have on our country’s future and that of the world.

In just a few short weeks, the Republican Party will convene in Cleveland to name Donald Trump as its presidential candidate. Throughout his unorthodox campaign, Trump has tapped into some of the same populist concerns and frustrations in the United States as the Leave campaign wildly leveraged to market the Brexit referendum in the UK. Those among us still longing for America’s promise will require thoughtful solutions from the next President, not bluster and discord.

My good friend and professional pollster David Paleologos released a poll today, part of which illustrates that 68 percent of Americans do not view Brexit as an isolated referendum, but rather as an expression of anger and dissatisfaction towards the UK government. Many Americans have echoed similar sentiments of frustration with where our country is headed and have rallied behind Trump as a result. Although a plurality of those polled did not believe that Brexit would positively impact Trump’s candidacy, we must keep in mind that a Trump presidency – like Brexit – has serious implications not only for the United States’ economy and foreign policy, but for the entire world.

On November 8, 2016, we only get one vote and there are no do-overs.


GOP Debate: Policy Over Personality and the Digital Conversation

By Cosmo Macero Jr.

Cosmo Macero Jr.With the stakes extremely high for Florida’s two entries in the Republican presidential primary race, an analysis of social media conversations around last night’s GOP debate suggests Marco Rubio stood out measurably on key economic issues, while Jeb Bush mostly fell flat.

Meanwhile front-runners Donald Trump and Ben Carson – based on data from social media monitoring tools, providing real-time feedback – both left the debate stage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin still riding overwhelmingly positive sentiment from the social media universe.

While the main debate last night and an earlier undercard debate of lower-polling candidates featured a total of twelve individuals – the O’Neill and Associates analysis sought to measure, through social media conversations, the performance and impact of four candidates widely believed to have had the most to gain or lose in Milwaukee.

O’Neill and Associates used digital monitoring tools to examine more than 20,000 social media conversations nationwide across a dozen platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and other blogs and news sources – and to zero in on four key candidates in last night’s Fox Business Channel debate: Trump, Carson, Rubio and Bush.

For Rubio, the Florida senator, the debate was considered an opportunity to seize the spotlight on economic issues and stand out from the crowd of a dozen candidates fighting for a fraction of visibility and electorate mindshare behind Trump and Carson.

For Bush, the former Florida governor, it may have been the last opportunity to show that “Jeb Can Fix It,” as he tried to jumpstart a campaign that has failed to excite GOP voters.  And with the economy the topic on the table, it seemed that Bush may have finally been presented his opportunity to flourish: talk about policy and the issues.

The social media analysis supports the initial conversations of news outlets: Rubio appeared to meet the challenge, while Bush may have come up short.

In fact, Rubio dominated the conversation regarding jobs, taxes and the economy – leading all four candidates in social media mentions on those topics, which were billed as the key issues of last night’s debate. Among the four candidates measured – Rubio mentions represented 30 percent of the conversation on jobs, taxes and the economy, while Trump grabbed 25 percent, Bush 23 percent and Carson 22 percent.

Additionally, Rubio’s presence and performance were substantial enough to dominate the overall social media conversation. By 10 p.m. last night – Rubio’s share of all debate-related social media conversation among the four candidates measured was outnumbering the next closest candidate, Carson, by a ratio of almost 3 to 1.

Bottom line: people are talking more and more about Marco Rubio.

On the other hand, Bush, despite winning a few soundbite moments, was unable to rise above the others on key economic issues or move the needle on overall impressions of his candidacy.

Indeed, the measure of overall sentiment about Bush as a candidate continues to be overwhelmingly negative, according to an analysis of the social media landscape during the debate. Sentiment toward Bush – expressed through positive and negative keywords and hashtags – was 45 percent negative throughout the duration of the debate. By comparison, Carson’s negative sentiment is only 25 percent, Trump’s is 28 percent and Rubio’s is 35 percent.

Many candidates have come under attack by the media and the public for their truthfulness – or lack thereof – both on and off of the debate stage. Carson, in particular, has faced extensive questioning in recent weeks about statements he made about his past and in his biography.

While Carson used the structure of the debate to his favor – one that focused on policy over personality – lingering questions about his overall honesty and accuracy surfaced. The highest trending URL shared with his name across social media during the debate was a New York Times interactive Fact Check of the Debate. However, he skillfully deflected accusations of his dishonesty by directing the conversation to Hillary Clinton and her truthfulness, which resonated across social media and kept his negative sentiment in check. In fact, when measuring the conversation around the issue of honesty and truthfulness, analysis found that Carson succeeded in turning the conversation to the issue of Hillary Clinton with the top trending keywords within the conversation, including, “Hillary is a liar.”

Carson and Trump both continue to register a net positive sentiment based on social media conversations, with overall sentiment toward Carson now 38 percent positive and Trump at 32 percent positive.

Bush and Rubio have similar levels of positive sentiment (27 and 29 percent, respectively), but the gap widens further in Rubio’s favor, by a full 10 points on the negative side, as well as with the sheer volume of conversation shared.

Cosmo Macero Jr. is a Senior Vice President with O’Neill and Associates. Reach him by email: cosmo@oneillandassoc.com; on Twitter @CosmoMacero; or by phone – (617) 646-1017