Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for December 2014


  • Bimbo
  • December 5, 2014
  • by Spaeth Communications

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This month, we bring you political BIMBOs ranging from Vladimir Putin to former Secretary of State James Baker (sorry Mr. Baker, we still love you), Minority Leader Pelosi who took the bait from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and now-former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Several contenders also demonstrate the power of bad words. We have cautionary examples of what not to do and how not to do it from Swedish filmmakers who produced a heartwarming story about a young Syrian boy rescuing a young girl – except it was fake – and ESPN’s terrific idea to involve college students as unpaid reporters, until one of them tweeted the wrong thing. And finally, for a strong close, see the best tweet ever from Ole Miss Athletic Director Ross Bjork, but don’t argue with this unless you can match the picture at the end.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I’m not trying to make this about me,” said former Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill who announced that he fired the shot killing Osama bin Laden. (SEALs are supposed to observe a lifetime pledge of secrecy. O’Neill said he came forward because a former colleague leaked his name, but he came under sharp criticism from colleagues who pointed out that he left the service and took up a career as a motivational speaker. If he is pursuing a public career, he certainly needs coaching and training. O’Neill responded to criticism that he is cashing in on participation in the high-profile operation by saying, “I’d say if I was cashing in, I would have written a book as soon as I got out.” Of course, he did succeed in making it all about him. Note the comment made the headline.)

CBS News, “I’m not trying to make this about me,” Nov. 14, 2014

THE RUNNERS-UP

“UPS did not intentionally discriminate,” said spokeswoman Kara Gerhardt Ross in response to a lawsuit from a female employee who charged the company declined to give her a temporary light-duty assignment when she was pregnant. (It seems that the employee, Peggy Young, was ordered by her doctor to avoid lifting packages. UPS was complying with its policy at the time and since expanded its light-duty policies to include pregnant employees. However, she should have said “UPS is dedicated to treating people fairly and providing opportunities for everyone in the UPS family.” The BIMBO quote confirms that they did discriminate.)

Associated Press, “Justices to hear pregnancy discrimination case,” Nov. 30, 2014

“We will not collapse,” read a bizarre tweet from Russian Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev. On its official Twitter account, the ministry posted a picture of the minister alongside a quote saying, "We will not collapse!" (Besides being very strange, note that the phrase became a news article on its own and the headline.)

Business Insider, “Russia’s Economy Ministry: ‘We Will Not Collapse!,’” Nov. 28, 2014

“I wouldn’t call it spying,” said Harvard Professor Jerry Green about the revelation that the university was using hidden cameras to record classes without telling professors or students. (The university explained it was checking complaints that students were skipping classes, which proved true. What makes this story delicious is that Harvard had just introduced a new honor code that “stresses the importance of transparency and community trust.” Green was probably asked “Is this spying?” and fell into the classic BIMBO trap of repeating the negative.)

The New York Times, “Secret Cameras Rekindle Privacy Debate at Harvard,” Nov. 6, 2014

“Federal workers don’t have anything to fear from me at all,” protested Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc. (This is an excellent example of how a negative phrase will crowd out the rest of the response. Sen. Johnson was asked to respond to an article “Why Senator Ron Johnson is Federal Workers’ New Worst Nightmare” for daring to suggest that federal workers’ health care and retirement benefits should be open to review. The senator had a somewhat lengthy response making the argument that pay and benefits are reviewed annually in the private sector and that he intended to engage in some fact finding. The BIMBO comment crowded out the response and became the cut line of the video—and the tweet posted by C-SPAN.)

C-SPAN Washington Journal, “Federal workers don’t have anything to fear from me at all,” Nov. 19, 2014

“I don’t want to rule Russia for life,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin to a Russian state news agency. (Is he sending the message that yes, indeed, he’s in for life? We don’t put it past him to send an unclear message. And it became the headline.)

The Guardian, “Vladimir Putin: I don’t want to rule Russia for life,” Nov. 24, 2014

“I don’t think the GOP brand sucks,” said former Secretary of State James Baker reacting to a comment from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., that the brand “sucks.” (This is particularly painful since Baker was Chief of Staff at the White House and responsible for all the opportunities Merrie had to “take the White House into the space age,” as one of the Washington, D.C. papers wrote. Baker provides just another example of how we pick up and repeat each other’s words.)

The Hill, “James Baker: GOP Senate not assured,” Nov. 2, 2014

A blizzard of BIMBOs followed the mid-term elections. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said “It was a powerful repudiation of the Obama agenda,” to which the White House retorted that the president “Doesn’t feel repudiated.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., weighed in that “I don’t believe what happened the other night is a wave, there was no wave of approval for the Republicans.” The president insisted that the election result “doesn’t make me mopey, it energizes me.” Reporters at the press conference where the president made the “mopey” claim wrote that “the president didn’t seem energized at all… instead Obama was flat and unemotional.”

NJ Daily, “His Party is at a Low Point, and Obama Seems Passive,” Nov. 6, 2014

"I don't get up in the morning and worry about my job," said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel only to find himself out of a job a few days later. (This is why we like to call BIMBO comments “self-fulfilling prophesies.”)

Charlie Rose, “Chuck Hagel: "I Don't Get Up in the Morning and Worry About My Job," Nov. 19. 2014

“I know some of the critics of this action call it amnesty. Well, it’s not,” said President Obama announcing his executive action to lift the threat of deportation for approximately five million illegal immigrants. (The president also announced he would grant green cards and other benefits. Technically, he is correct. It’s not full amnesty, but it is a very aggressive easing of federal law and a sharp stick in the eye of the Republican leadership.)

ABC News, “President Obama Offers Legal Status to Millions of Undocumented Immigrants,” Nov. 20, 2014

“To me public corruption, taking money, doing something policy-wise that is bad, I didn’t do any of that,” said former Louisiana Health Chief Bruce Greenstein after being indicted for intervening to get a $200 million contract for a former employer. (According to a transcript of the proceedings, the indictment focused on Greenstein covering up contact with his former employer in the form of cellphone records and thousands of text messages. Notice that the denial made the headline.)

The Advocate, “Ex-Louisiana health chief Bruce Greenstein to grand jury: I took no money, did no wrong,’” Nov. 24, 2014

BAD WORDS

“Clown” took center stage when Greg Orman, the former Democrat running as an Independent against Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., found himself in a tight race. As a parade of national Republicans came in to campaign for Roberts, Orman said, “It sort of seems like a Washington establishment clown car.” One of the people popping out of the Roberts campaign bus was 91-year-old former senator Bob Dole who responded, “I don’t think I’ve ever been called a clown before.” A huge brouhaha ensued about whether Orman actually called Sen. Dole a “clown.” Orman tried to apologize personally to Sen. Dole in an email using the word “clown” four times, which generated additional coverage. (This is an example of how a sensational word has high velocity these days and anyone in the public eye needs to pay attention. Our simplistic classification – is this a good word or a bad word? – would have helped Orman stay out of the mud puddle.)

Washington Examiner, “Battle in Kansas: Did Greg Orman call Bob Dole a ‘clown?,’” Nov. 1, 2014

The Washington Post, “In e-mail to Dole, Orman explains the difference between a ‘clown’ and ‘clown car,’” Nov. 3, 2014

“Slave” was the word that caught the attention of protestors in Hong Kong. A pro-mainland government executive and HSBC board member, criticized the protestors and observed “American slaves were liberated in 1861 but did not get voting rights until 107 years later, so why can’t Hong Kong wait for a while?” (Putting aside the historical inaccuracies in her statement, the word “slave” and the implicit comparison of American slaves to Hong Kong citizens caused uproar and made the headline.)

Quartz, “An HSBC director just likened Kong Kong’s citizens to slaves,” Oct. 31, 2014

“Rape” – one of the most sensational words in our language – came back into the headlines as Glenn Beck defended Bill Cosby, who is the target of multiple charges of sexual assault. Beck described an Associated Press interview with Cosby and his wife about an exhibition of their art collection where the reporter asked several questions about the allegations, which Cosby declined to answer. Beck described the interview as “rape” by the media. (It was an unfortunate comparison. Beck said, “You want to talk about rape? That’s media rape right there,” noting that Cosby had asked not to discuss the allegations, “You said you would not do that. Since when does your ‘no’ mean ‘yes,’ Do you know the definition of ‘no sir,’ You’ve just raped Bill Cosby. You said you wouldn’t do it. You just did it and then you blamed it on him. My gosh, maybe we should have a lesson on rape.” Can we agree to retire the word “rape” as a metaphor?Plus, although this was an interview on the art exhibit, Cosby should have expected to be queried on the public charges.)

Mediaite: “Glenn Beck: AP ‘Raped’ Bill Cosby,” Nov. 20, 2014

WRONG THING TO SAY, DO OR TWEET

A Norwegian film maker released a video that purported to show a young Syrian boy rescuing a little girl in a hail of gunfire. After millions of YouTube views, it turns out the video was fake. The director, Lars Klevberg, was defiant about his motives and the results, saying “I was not uncomfortable” after deceiving millions of people with this fictional account. Klevberg’s funder, the commissioner of film, insisted “It was not a cynical way to get attention,” and argued that “It was a really low budget film.” (So, if they had spent more money it would have been OK? The film was supported by the Norwegian Film Institute. This falls into the Elizabeth Taylor insistence, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” because Klevberg managed to make himself the center of global attention.)

BBC News, “#BBCTrending: Syrian ‘hero boy’ video faked by Norwegian director,” Nov. 14, 2014

ESPN had a great idea: enlist students to submit pictures, tweets and stories. In exchange, students whose material gets picked up receive ESPN bylines. We’re always talking about engagement, what could go wrong? When an active shooter moved to the library at Florida State University causing chaos, ESPN Campus Connection reporter and University of Alabama student Marissa Martin took to Twitter. As the event unfolded, she tweeted, “Reported gunman on the FSU campus. Maybe he is heading for Jameis,” referring to Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. Martin’s tweet predictably went viral, causing outrage and her first response was the defiant “I stand by my opinions.” (It’s a good example of the opportunities to enlist your audience but also the risks.)

SN Sports Now, “ESPN Intern Marissa Martin Needs To Be Fired Immediately,” Nov. 20, 2014

GOOD EXAMPLE

The University of Mississippi Athletic Director Ross Bjork decided to send a response to a series of hostile tweets from heckler Russ Russell. Bjork’s response provoked Russell to challenge him face-to-face. The Ole Miss AD responded with a picture of him holding his Heavyweight Champion belt, asking if Russell really wanted to face off.. Russell retreated quickly. Normally it’s a mistake to engage with people trying to bait you but Bjork nailed this one. We laughed out loud!

. @Therealbrutius The real question is.....do you want to meet face to face? pic.twitter.com/HZaHd3C9nD

— Ross Bjork (@RossBjorkAD) November 4, 2014

Football Scoop, “Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork knows how to respond to Twitter hecklers,” Nov. 5, 2014



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