Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for August 2011


  • Bimbo
  • August 1, 2011
  • by Spaeth Communications

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July was another target rich month. We have lots of BIMBOs from the Murdoch family in the UK hearings, one from Libya’s spokesperson (what a thankless job) and one from Qatar’s soccer head. We have a “crazy liberal” example as well as a “crazy conservative” example. Also in this month’s full memo, President Obama claims we’re sold and the predator catcher gets caught. We applaud Reuters columnist, David Cay Johnston, for blowing the whistle on himself and apologizing. Motley Fool reporter, Matt Koppenheffer, gets “best lead” (and also best explanation). And yet again, Southwest Airlines demonstrates how to say the right thing in a challenging story. We end the memo with a quote from Human Resource Executive on the importance of communication.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I was not crazy,” said “civil rights reporter” Mac McClelland who staged a violent rape of herself. McClelland claims she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after hearing a woman describe being raped in the aftermath of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. (First of all, one cannot suffer from PTSD without actually experiencing something traumatic. This reminds me of the lawyer spoofs from “Saturday Night Live”. One involved a lawyer pitching for clients saying, “Do you suffer from near-collision stress disorder? Have you suffered from hearing someone describe an accident?”)

Abcnews.com, “Post-Traumatic Stress Cure: Writer Stages Her Own Rape,” July 5, 2011

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I have never hacked a phone, told anyone to hack a phone, nor to my knowledge published any story obtained from the hacking of a phone,” said Piers Morgan, Larry King’s replacement on CNN. This statement was in response to comments from former Daily Mirror journalist James Hipwell who said phone hacking was ‘endemic’ and it was ‘inconceivable’ that Morgan, who was an editor, didn’t know about the hacking. (This is a case of someone protesting too much. He should have said (if true) that he always adhered to journalism’s code of ethics.)

The New York Times, “Allegations spread to CNN host,” July 24, 2011

“We were never guilty of that,” said James Murdoch in response to a Member of Parliament’s accusation of ‘willful blindness.’  The hacking scandal erupted with the discovery that News Corp. reporters hacked into voicemail accounts of celebrities and ordinary citizens to get quotes. (Wait. So they’re guilty of other things?)

The Wall Street Journal, “Murdoch Apologizes at Parliament Hearing, Deflects Blame,” July 20, 2011

“We’re not a bunch of knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing Neanderthals,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) deriding President Obama’s characterization of certain members of Congress as ideologues for opposing his suggestions for the debt ceiling crisis. (This was the wrong thing to say. He missed his chance to say that conservatives are principled individuals who were elected to reduce Washington spending.)

New York Post, “Americans debt rage boils over,” July 27, 2011

“We would never bombard our cities,” said Libyan spokesman Moussa Ibrahim in response to reports that the Libyan Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi said, “if the rebels seize the city, we will deluge it with missiles and blow it up.”  (Alas, Mr. Ibrahim’s comments are made against the backdrop of Gadhafi’s troops heaving as many weapons as it can at the opposition. Note the words, “blow up,” make it into the headline.)

Associated Press, “Libya denies report Gadhafi would blow up Tripoli,” July 14, 2011 

“The Qatar bid did not do anything wrong,” huffed Qatar World Cup General Secretary Hassan al Thawadi about accusations that the tiny but wealthy country bribed Fifa members to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup. (Mr. al Thawadi didn’t help his cause by adding, “We will not lie.  Our bid budget was significantly higher than any of the other bids.”  And, with more protesting, “We never broke any rules in response to a question over whether the Gulf State had paid money or gifts to secure the 2022 tournament.”  He missed a golden opportunity to say, “We’re looking forward to showcasing Qatar’s abilities and world-class facilities.” Note the words “nothing wrong” make the headline.)

BBC Sport, “Qatar 2022 World Cup bid ‘did nothing wrong,’” July 11, 2011

WRONG THING TO SAY OR DO

CALLING JUDGE WILLIAM WEBSTER: When I went to work for Judge Webster at the FBI as a White House Fellow, he laid down a key management tenet: “tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.”

In the UK Parliamentary hacking scandal hearings, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch was asked about a culture where, “people only tell you things they think you want to hear.” He responded, “I’m sure there may be people who try to please me. That would be human nature. It’s up to me to see through that.” (Who wants to set up a fund for glasses? Full disclosure: a former beau of mine, Martin Fischbein, worked for Mr. Murdoch and admired him enormously, but this is clearly a crisis that never should have happened.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Will the Scandal Tame Murdoch?” July 25, 2011

“The American people are sold,” said President Obama after claiming 80 percent of the public supports tax increases. (Mark Twain would be proud. He wrote, “Statistics are like ladies of the night: once you get them down, you can do anything you want with them.”)

The Hill, “Obama: Public is ‘sold’ on tax increases in a debt-ceiling deal,” July 15, 2011

Chris Hansen, who hosts “To Catch a Predator,” a television series that tries to catch men communicating sexually online with who they think are very young girls, was caught himself allegedly cheating with a female reporter more than 20 years younger than he was. (Oops. Hosting a show entitled “To Catch” when you’re catchable yourself.)

Huffpost Media, “Chris Hansen Caught cheating on Wife by Hidden Camera,” June 30, 2011

“I don’t quite understand it,” said PR counselor and legend Bob Dilenschneider who defended Rupert Murdoch in the hacking scandal. He complained other stories weren’t receiving as much attention. (Is he kidding? Obtaining sensational quotes by hacking into phones? And apparently also hacking into the phone of a murdered teen to delete messages to keep the inbox from filling up, giving her poor parents hope she might still be alive. Give me a break.)

O’Dwyer’s, “Dilenschneider Sticks Up for Murdoch,” July 16, 2011  

CRAZY CONSERVATIVE

“I just didn’t have my hand on the trigger,” said Republican Arizona State Senator Lori Klein after pulling a loaded, pink handgun from her purse and pointing it at Arizona Republic reporter, Richard Ruelas, even aiming the red laser beam on his chest. (This woman is truly dangerous. It’s amazing this didn’t make national news. She displays an astonishing lack of commitment to gun safety, a critical issue for gun rights advocates. She continued on with more stupid comments adding, “I don’t like chocolate ice cream. Am I going to force you not to have any?” to justify opposition to gun control measures. She should have apologized, signed up publicly for gun safety lessons, and noted the Constitution provides Second Amendment rights. She reflects badly on conservatives.)

Huffpost Politics, “Lori Klein, Arizona State Senator, Pointed Loaded Gun at Reporter Richard Ruelas’s Chest,” July 12, 2011

CRAZY LIBERAL

A Rutgers professor saw Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) having dinner with friends at a bistro. She spied on the wine being served and saw it costs $350 a bottle. Deciding Ryan had no privacy and there could be no possible explanation for serving such an expensive bottle of wine, she snapped a picture of the bottle with her cell phone. She then marched over and yelled at him for espousing conservative positions while drinking expensive wine. Apparently, one of the other men had ordered the wine, and on hearing the price, Ryan promptly paid for it. He produced the receipt when questioned by a reporter after the professor spread the story as broadly as possible. (This is another example of the degeneration of our political discourse. Politicians beware: you’re held to a higher standard. Expect it and don’t be stupid.)

Talking Points Memo, “Rep. Ryan Tastes the Grapes of Wrath,” July 8, 2011

GOOD EXAMPLES

Reuters columnist David Cay Johnston gets the “apology of the year” award and the “classy guy” award of the month, if not the year. He wrote a column claiming Murdoch’s News Corp. got a $4.8 billion tax refund over four years. In an amazing column, he retracted the claim, noted he had been wrong and was writing a “skinback.” This is a new term to us, meaning he was not only retracting his piece but “peeling back your skin and feeling your pain.” It’s a lengthy and self-aware column. Mr. Johnston noted he felt compelled to take action because “I often write tart notes at the Romenesko blog for journalists, the Columbia Journalism Review, Nieman Reports and elsewhere about what I consider flawed reporting by others.”

Reuters, “How I misread News Corp.’s taxes: David Cay Johnston,” July 13, 2011

“Safety is our number one priority and flight attendants ensure the safety of everyone on board,” said a Southwest Airlines spokesperson responding to the arrest of a passenger who threw food at a flight attendant after being told not to smoke electronic cigarettes. (Another unpleasant, news-making incident of passengers behaving selfishly, and Southwest again has the right quote and the right message.)

WFAA.com, “Southwest passenger arrested for throwing peanuts, pretzels at crew,” July 13, 2011

GREAT LEAD

Motley Fool reporter Matt Koppenheffer posted a column explaining Bank of America’s announcement of its second quarter earnings and an $8.8 billion loss with this lead: “If it seems odd that B of A would announce such a massive loss this far out from the financial crisis, perhaps an analogy will help. Imagine you’re at a party and tip back a few too many. You then proceed to kick over the punchbowl onto a white rug, use a standing lamp as a javelin, have your Olympic-caliber throw stopped short by a flat-screen TV and make a pass at your best friend’s wife. And that’s just what you can remember. Now imagine the next week, when the pounding headache has finally subsided to some extent. It’s time to make apologies, and more importantly, settle up with the host and other party goers to cover the damages (both emotional and physical) that you caused. That’s more or less where Bank of America is right now.” (Motley Fool should be required reading for all high school and college students. And they’d like it.)

Motley Fool, “Bank of America’s $8.8 billion black eye,” July 19, 2011

IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATION

“High-performing organizations take proactive approaches to understanding and serving their customers,” and the number one element of “high-performing” is “communication.”

Human Resource Executive, “The Four Ps of High Performance,” June 16, 2011


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