Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for August 2014


  • Bimbo
  • August 7, 2014
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image e

Bimbo comments this month come from the Obama Administration, including Deputy Attorney General James Cole and a Pentagon admiral, the president and (surprisingly) the first lady. Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and others provide examples of the “Wrong Thing to Say.” Israel’s former ambassador illustrates how not to use statistics and Secretary of State Kerry is reminded that the mic is always on.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“We’re not animals,” said a pro-Russian separatist in Eastern Ukraine identifying only as Alexei. His comment came after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Eastern Ukraine. (Since all analysis points to Russia as the origin of the missile, they are acting as animals. Even if pro-Russian separatists targeted the plane by mistake, thinking it was a military transport, all communication from Russia is “wink wink” about their deployment and control of the so-called separatists.)

Dallas Morning News, “Talking Points,” July 20, 2014

THE RUNNERS-UP

“There was not a gaping hole,” said Deputy Attorney General James Cole explaining why the DOJ didn’t realize that the IRS had “lost” thousands of IRS executive Lois Lerner’s emails while an investigation was supposed to be taking place. (His argument doesn’t make a lot of sense. Apparently, he means that there was not an identifiable period of time where emails are missing, but that’s never been the accusation. And, to accentuate the incredulity, the department claimed it learned about the missing emails by reading about it in the press, a claim that became the headline. Communication 101 teaches that key constituencies should learn about potential problems from internal sources, so they aren’t blindsided by the media.)

Wall Street Journal, “DOJ Officials Learned in Media of Missing IRS Email,” July 18, 2014

“It’s not a gag; we’re not making a mockery of Elvis,” said Jason Sherry, producer of Las Vegas’ Elvis festival. (While this comment isn’t the worst we have seen, it’s the wrong quote and at odds with the festival’s avowed aim to change the term “Elvis impersonator” to “Elvis Tribute Artist.” He should have said, “As Elvis Tribute Artists, our goal is to carry on his music and acquaint new generations to Elvis and his once-in-a-lifetime personality.”)

The Associated Press, “All Shook Up at Vegas’ Elvis Festival,” July 16, 2014

“No security breach,” was the headline given to a story about the rumor that Goodwill’s security had been breached. (Goodwill actually did a good job on the story, stating, “We are proactively engaged with the payment card industry contacts, the Secret Service and all Goodwill headquarters to identify what problem, if any exists so that we can take prompt and appropriate actions.” The headline writer didn’t do them any favors.)

CNN Money, “Goodwill: no security breach so far,” July 22, 2014

“This is no shell company,” said Lazaro Báez, an Argentinian businessman close to President Cristina Kirchner and her late husband, former President Néstor Kirchner, as a federal corruption investigation found that the presidential couple amassed millions of dollars while in office. (Báez, a major supporter of the Kirchners, owns a company that has received hundreds of millions of dollars of government contracts. Government investigators have uncovered incidents where Báez’s company rented 90 rooms at a time from a hotel owned by the Kirchners without ever using them. Báez’s quote only reinforces the perception that the company is, in fact, a shell.)

Wall Street Journal, “Mix of Money and Politics Stirs Intrigue in Argentina,” July 29, 2015

“There’s no mission creep,” said Rear Admiral John Kirby when it was revealed that the Pentagon was adding an additional 300 U.S. troops to the initial detail sent to Iraq to help the crumbling and inept government. (This is another example of the wrong quote making the article. The admiral should have said, “The deployment is completely within our mission.” Instead, by raising the issue that the president needed “flexibility” the admiral confirmed that the U.S. has an open ended and risky commitment.)

The Guardian, “The Number of US in Troops in Iraq Keeps Creeping Up,” July 1, 2014

The Obama Administration has a strong showing this month, with three BIMBO comments of note:

  • “It’s not crazy, it’s not socialist. It’s not the imperial presidency—no laws are broken,” said President Obama about his legislative proposal to spend billions on infrastructure projects.
  • In wake of the news surrounding the crisis of tens of thousands of Central American children arriving unaccompanied at the country’s southern border, President Obama said that he would not visit the border while on a fundraising trip to Texas because he was “not interested in photo ops.”
  • Meanwhile, at an LGBT pride event at the White House, the president complimented the White House chef by saying, “We call Bill the crustmaster, because his pies, I don’t know what he does, whether he puts crack in them…but…,” to which Mrs. Obama jumped in and said, “There is no crack in our pies.”

(The explosion of BIMBO comments may be a result of the level of criticism the Obamas and the Administration are not accustomed to receiving. President Obama should have used the occasions to say: “Job creation is my top priority,” “I want our efforts to be focused on solutions” and “Bill’s crusts are so good, I could eat them without the filling.” Note that the BIMBO comments made the headlines.)

Real Clear Politics, “Obama on Highway Plan: ‘It’s not Crazy, It’s Not Socialism, It’s not the Imperial Presidency,’” July 1, 2014
The Washington Post, “Obama defends not visiting Texas border, says he’s ‘not interested in photo ops,’” July 9, 2014
NBC News, “Michelle Obama: ‘There Is No Crack in White House Pies,’” June 30, 2014

WRONG THING TO SAY

“Memphis is like, to compare it to New York, you know, it’s like back in the Stone Age, you know, when you didn’t have electricity and stuff,” said former Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins in an interview after being hired as coach of the Nets. (The coach added that this wasn’t “a knock on Memphis.” If that’s the case, we would hate to see what a real knock sounds like. The columnist, Des Bieler, tried desperately to rescue Hollins by writing, “In fairness, the new Nets coach was clearly trying to emphasize, in what he felt was a lighthearted way, how excited he was about his new gig.” We don’t think we’ve ever seen a columnist so flagrantly step in with “what he meant to say…” Can we expect similar good intentions from political reporters?)

The Washington Post, “Lionel Hollins says things that people in Memphis may not appreciate,” July 16, 2014

When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said that the Republican Governors Association wasn’t “investing in lost causes,” he seemed to be taking a calculated shot at Westchester County executive Ron Astorino, the Republican candidate for New York governor running against Andrew Cuomo. Christie also happens to be head of the RGA this year. (This was an unnecessary slap at Astorino and at Republicans everywhere, plus it was a missed opportunity. Christie should have said, “We will support all Republican candidates with a range of service including but not necessarily financial.” Republicans have a timely and important message that should be heard at every level of government and from every candidate who has undertaken the important mission of standing for office.)

US News & World Report, “Christie Fiddles While Cuomo Burns,” June 25, 2014

“Dead broke,” was how Hillary Clinton described her family’s financial condition when Bill Clinton left the presidency. (Mrs. Clinton was roundly ridiculed for her claim that was an attempt to position herself as an ordinary person. She tried to back track stating, “I regret it. It was inartful,” but only succeeded in raising the issue of the family’s millions from speeches for which she and the president charge as much as $750,000. This is another instance where the politician should have taken a lesson from James Baker’s handling of then-candidate George H.W. Bush’s need to shed his identification with the charge that presidential candidate Reagan was urging “voodoo economics.” When Reagan picked Bush as vice president, Baker knew the first question at the first press conference would be about the topic. As such, he rehearsed Bush, and when the expected question came, Bush covered his face with his hands, and said, “God, I wish I hadn’t said that.” The press corps erupted into laughter. The issue disappeared. Note that Mrs. Clinton’s “dead broke” phrase made the headline again.)

The Huffington Post, “Hillary Clinton: ‘I regret’ saying we were ‘Dead Broke,’” July 29, 2014

“Facebook can’t control emotions,” said COO Sheryl Sandberg, trying to fend-off criticism when a secret project to manipulate users’ reactions was revealed. (Sandberg tried to do damage control by saying “We communicated badly.” This missed the point that they didn’t communicate at all. As nearly as we can figure, they were trying to see how information flow affects users’ perception and thus usage including how useful that information would be to advertisers. If so, the best response would have been a truthful admission with the explanation that this would allow Facebook to continue to offer new and innovative options. Notice that this quote became the headline, crowding out most of the content from a very long video interview.)

NDTV, “Will Not Try to Control Emotions or Elections, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg Tells NDTV,” July 3, 2014

STATISTICS

“An isolated incident,” is how Israel’s former ambassador to the U.N. described the kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager by extremists in revenge for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens. (This is a classic example of understanding how the listener/audience hears. Most audiences don’t have the same filter or perspective of Israelis, and however correct their analysis may be, we just hear “murder.” Israeli officials have generally done an excellent job noting that every child’s death is a tragedy.)

Fox News, “Palestinians clash with Israeli police after body is found,” July 2, 2014

THE MIC IS ALWAYS ON

“It’s a pinpoint operation. It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in a private conversation with an aide that was caught on open mic in between interview questions. The secretary was talking to a staffer about Israel’s incursion into Gaza to take out the tunnels allowing the terrorist group Hamas to sneak into Israel with suicide bombers or kidnappers. Billed as a “pin operation” to disable the tunnels, the initiative predictably expanded as it became clear that the entries to the tunnels within Gaza had been systematically placed in civilian locations including hospitals and schools. Notice that the “off the record” comment became the headline and news story.

Wall Street Journal, “Kerry: ‘Hell of a Pinpoint Operation’ by Israel,” July 22, 2014



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