What a month! We’ve got quite a few comments. See BIMBOs from Martha Stewart, Japanese Prime Minister Abe and President Obama. Examples of The Wrong Thing To Say from Rep. Hank Johnson, U.K. Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom and the White House Press Secretary. Twitter examples from a U.K. TV personality and an uprising in the Kashmir region of India. An example of how words matter from a study of doctors and whether they recommended parents vaccinate young people against HPV. Good examples come from former-president George W. Bush and FBI Director James Comey. And of course, comments from and surrounding Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton round out the month.
THE WINNING BIMBO
“Black Lives Matter is not a battle cry against everyone else. It is not a cop killing mission,” wrote the author of a column ending with the moving comments, “I stand up for black lives and I mourn for the cops. That’s the thing about a heart when you have one. It multitasks.” (We agree but the BLM movement has generated some sensational comments. The Rev. Jesse Jackson said “Shooting the police is not a civil rights tactic.” Concerned that the Dallas shootings may derail their efforts, an activist said the shooting of 13 police officers and the deaths of five, “Is not a setback. That’s showing the people of this country that black people are getting to a boiling point.” He continued saying there “comes a time when black people will snap.” This sentiment was echoed by Think Progress staffer Zach Ford, who tweeted, “Given that police haven’t been held accountable for murdering black people, it’s no surprise some are taking justice into their own hands.”)
The Kansas City Star, “Black Lives Matter is not a hate group,” July 8, 2016
“We’re not embarrassed,” said Rio Organizing Committee Spokesman Mario Andrada in response to the Australians moving to hotels after calling their apartments in the Olympic Village “uninhabitable” and citing, “blocked toilets, leaking pipes, exposed wiring, darkened stairwells and dirty floors.” (The organizing committee should be embarrassed, and Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, made it worse when he said, “I almost feel like putting a kangaroo in front of their building to make them feel at home.” The Australians were not amused, responding “We don’t need kangaroos. We need plumbers to take care of the lakes in the apartments.”)
The Wall Street Journal, “Rio Olympics Organizers Scurry to Fix Up Athletes’ Village,” July 25, 2016
“Roger Ailes has never sexually harassed Megyn Kelly,” insisted Ailes’ lawyer, Susan Estrich. (Twenty-four hours later, Ailes was gone from Fox, the network he pioneered. Estrich may be a celebrity lawyer in her own right, but she looks ridiculous here. Interestingly, the second part of the quote was excellent: “He has spent much of the last decade promoting and helping (Kelly) achieve the stardom she has earned for which she has repeatedly and publicly thanked him.”)
USA Today, “Roger Ailes, 21st Century Fox in talks for his departure,” July 20, 2016
“The News Sentinel does not have a bias against Christianity or any other religion,” wrote the paper’s publisher after an outcry when the paper refused to run a classified ad from the Cedar Springs Christian Store. (This is a case study in how not to handle an issue. When the ad didn’t run on schedule, the bookstore owner called the paper and was told it contained an “offensive” word: Christian. The owner posted the exchange on Facebook. The paper first said, “We had a system failure, which resulted in a classified ad for Cedar Springs getting hung up in our front end system.” When that was patently false, they came out with the statement claiming no bias.)
Fox News, “Newspaper rejects ad over the word ‘Christian,’” July 29, 2016
“For those that believe I’m anti-police, it’s simply not the case,” said Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby after bowing to the reality that she had virtually no chance of convicting the remaining policemen she had charged with murder following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody. (Mosby certainly did a great imitation of being anti-police. She also attacked the police and accused them of sabotaging her investigation; CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said her speech suggesting police collusion and tampering with the evidence was “The most inflammatory statement I have ever seen a prosecutor deliver.” Not exactly how to win friends and influence people. When she was sworn in as chief prosecutor, she called for building up trust and for coming together. She should have retrieved those words when she announced her office was dropping charges against the remaining officers.)
CNN, “Prosecutor in Freddie Gray case. I’m not anti-police,” July 27, 2016
“They (millennials) don’t have the initiative to go out and find a little apartment and grow a tomato plant on the terrace,” said Martha Stewart. (Example of picking a needless argument. Why attack a key audience? Millennials may not be prime customers of Martha Stewart Living but, as they grow up, they will get more interested in her products and advice. She should have said, “I want to encourage young people to aim to live independently and experience the fun of growing your own vegetables.”)
Inc. Magazine, “Martha Stewart Unloads on Millennials: Here’s What She Said (and Why),” July 13, 2016
“I have absolutely nothing against the Columbian fans,” said bicyclist Christ Froome after reportedly punching a fan who got too close to him during the Tour de France. (Froome handled the aftermath and criticism well by tweeting a timely apology and explaining, “It’s fantastic having so many fans out on the road but please, don’t try and run with the riders. It gets really dangerous for the guys behind you.” Other lessons from this incident: Froome’s quick reaction on Twitter quelled the story, and Froome noted that the spectator’s cell phone video didn’t show that the fan’s flag was billowing in front of him and almost got caught in his front wheel. Today, mobile video has become a staple of media stories, and we should remember it’s frequently incomplete.)
USA Today, “Chris Froome punched a spectator in a yellow feathery wig during Tour de France,” July 9, 2016
“Abenomics is not failing,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. (Abe was campaigning to revise the country’s constitution to eliminate the pacifist requirements, but most of his comments were on the country’s stagnant economy. The BIMBO comment only reinforced the issue. As frequently happens, the second half of the comment was on-target, “The only choice is to go forward.” This is so typical: our instinct is to have a negative clause and then a positive one. The solution: stick to the positive one only.)
The New York Times, “Japan Vote Strengthens Shinzo Abe’s Goal to Change Constitution,” July 10, 2016
“We are not as divided we seem,” said President Obama. (The president was speaking after the shooting of 13 Dallas police officers; five died. He continued, “You’re not seeing riots, you’re not seeing police going after people who are protesting peacefully.” We don’t want to advise the President of the United States, but the general advice is always say what is instead of what’s not. Plus the quote appeared in hundreds of publications.)
POLITICO, “Obama: ‘We are not as divided as we seem,’” July 12, 2016
WRONG THING TO SAY
“Almost like termites,” was how Rep. Hank Johnson described Jewish settlers in a speech to an anti-Israel organization urging companies to boycott the country. (This is the same Georgia representative who wondered during a hearing about deployment of troops to Guam if the island could tip over. We shouldn’t have expected more from him. He also accused “Jewish people” of stealing from the Palestinians.)
The Washington Free Beacon, “Congressman: Jewish Settlers Are Like Termites,” July 25, 2016
“I don’t really know Theresa very well, but I am sure she will be really, really sad she doesn’t have children. So I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has got children, Theresa hasn’t’ because I think that would be really horrible. But genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake,” said U.K. Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom as she faced off with Theresa May to replace Prime Minister David Cameron. (It backfired to bring up who had children and who didn’t. Leadsom also contributed a BIMBO to the debate, “No one needs to fear our decision to leave the EU.” May, of course, prevailed.)
BBC News, “Andrea Leadsom ‘motherhood’ comments spark row,” July 9, 2016
After saying Hillary Clinton “should be hanging from a tree,” Licking County, Ohio, Commissioner Duane Flowers apologized. (Ouch. The interesting learning from this incident is that Flowers said he was talking to two colleagues and a reporter was present but he thought the conversation was off-the-record. Flowers apologized, adding that he “will never again have a casual conversation with a reporter.” Just one more person who learned the hard way that reporters cannot pass up a news-making quote no matter what the situation.)
The New York Post, “Ohio official sorry for saying Hillary should be ‘hanging from a tree,’” July 22, 2016
“I would not call her competence into question,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Earnest was referring to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. During an interview with the Associated Press, Ginsburg was asked about the possibility of a Trump win. Her response: “I don’t want to think about that possibility.” Cue backlash and a tweet from Trump, “Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot - resign!” Although Ginsburg later stated she regretted making a comment due to her position as a Supreme Court judge, the damage was done as Earnest’s BIMBO was in response to Trump’s tweet.
POLITICO, “White House: Ginsburg isn’t called ‘The Notorious RBG for nothing,’” July 13, 2016
A former TV personality, Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, carried out a Twitter war with the media. (The substances of the tweets are questionable and filled with expletives, but it’s another indication of how Twitter has become the debating platform of choice. Except there is not debate; there’s only hurling tweets back and forth.)
Mashable, “‘Utter horesh*t’: Jeremy Clarkson slams Daily Mail article with 2 angry tweets,” July 8, 2016
Twitter as an organizing platform is a global phenomenon. An example comes from the Kashmir region of India. A member of a Kashmiri insurgent group urging separatism, Burhan Muzaffar Wani, was killed in a gun battle. News reports noted that Wani had “built up a following on social media.” And, like ISIS and extremist Islamist movements, social media platforms serve as a recruiting tool. Why are we mentioning this? These shifts in how people share and consume information have implications for companies and commercial behavior that extend to how governments educate and motivate citizens.
The New York Times, “How Killing of Prominent Separatist Set Off Turmoil in Kashmir,” July 15, 2016
In a ceremony honoring the five police officers killed in Dallas on July 7, President George W. Bush had a line we think is worth sharing – and buying into. As the controversy between groups like Black Lives Matter and law enforcement festers, President Bush said, “Too often we judge other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions.” A little too long for a bumper sticker but a thought worth remembering.
Another good example comes from FBI Director, James Comey testifying before Congress about the Bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier asked Comey to explain why the judicial system was not “rigged.” Comey’s response is too long to reproduce here, but it’s included in the linked article below, which ended “I don’t care that people agree or disagree. That is what is wonderful about our democracy. But at its core, you need to know there are good people trying to do the right thing all day long. You pay for them and we’ll never forget that.” Interestingly, the headline pulling the word “rigged” is a combination of congressman’s question and the director’s response, which didn’t include the bad word.
Real Clear Politics, “FBI Director Comey: I Need The American People to Know The System Is Not Rigged,” July 7, 2016
“I am not an atheist,” retorted former presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. (This was, of course, a reaction to one of the emails from Democratic National Committee staff. It was suggested that they plant a question asking Sanders if he believed in God. And it made it to the headline.)
The Hill, “Sanders: ‘I am not an atheist,’” July 24, 2016
An example of the frenzy of the mainstream media to find unfavorable things to criticize was the gleeful seizure on the elevators labeled “white” at the Cleveland Republican National Convention. Would anybody really be that stupid? The media inferred these were left over from the days when there were signs for “colored” people to use. The signs were quickly replaced and the assumption was that elevators were originally assigned colors of red, white and blue.
The Wall Street Journal, “The Politics of Disorder,” July 18, 2016
“I’m not a fast trigger. I’m the exact opposite of a fast trigger,” said Trump rebutting the Democrats characterization of him as careless and unpredictable. (Perhaps The Hill felt they had to pick the lesser of two evils in choosing the soundbite that became the headline, where they used “stable” as the choice word.)
The Hill, “Trump: ‘I’m so stable you wouldn’t believe it,’” July 15, 2016
Trump also met with Senate Republicans and was quoted saying, “It’s down to two, and if you can’t support me you are supporting Hillary.” This is true, but Trump is the wrong person to say this to senators. He should be saying that he’s going to campaign for the party and wants to listen to the senators’ particular areas of expertise. For someone who presents himself as an experienced CEO, Trump should know that, as a leader, you frequently enlist others to deliver key messages. You don’t have to do it all by yourself.
Washington Examiner, “Trump to GOP senators: You’re either with me or you’re with Hillary Clinton,” July 7, 2016
“My father-in-law is not an anti-Semite,” began a column by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, responding to an opinion piece from one of his employees. Kushner’s piece is a thoughtful commentary about Trump and the current tendency to label people who agree with Trump as “racists” or “anti-Semites.” He really shouldn’t have started with that phrase—it’s almost as memorable as the famous Nixon, “I am not a crook.” Somebody tell him people only read the first line. Note that the New York Times story on Kushner’s column also began with the “My father-in-law is not an anti-Semite.”)
New York Observer, “Jared Kushner: The Donald Trump I Know,” July 6, 2016
Sen. Tim Kaine, the Democratic VP pick, made the classic mistake of repeating Trump’s line of “Crooked Hillary” repeating several times that “Crooked Hillary” was “ridiculous,” but he repeated “Crooked Hillary” over and over.
The Hill, “Kaine: ‘Crooked Hillary’ nickname is ‘ridiculous,’” July 24, 2016
“I’m not here to repeal the Second Amendment. I’m not here to take away your guns,” said Clinton at the DNC convention. The last line of the Vox editorial is, “So to really solve America’s gun problem, the US will likely have to reduce the number of guns. That will likely require taking some people’s guns away.”
Vox, “Hillary Clinton at her DNC speech: ‘I’m not here to take away your guns,’” July 28, 2016
A classic BIMBO occurred when NBC News reporter Chuck Todd used the word “polarizing” to describe Clinton and Sen. Cory Booker replied, “I patently disagree with you on issues of race and religious diversity that she is in any way polarizing,” thus repeating the negative word.
Washington Examiner, “Booker: ‘I patently reject’ that Clinton is polarizing,” July 10, 2016
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