Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees For December 2019

  • Bimbo
  • November 27, 2019
  • by Spaeth Communications

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We have BIMBO comments this month from a super liberal Texas politician who gets points for honesty and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford who does not, as well as an example from a CEO who needs a better understanding of his audiences. Basketball-great Charles Barkley appears in the “Wrong Thing To Say” section followed by the chief executive of G/O Media and two California mayors. This month includes a variety of interesting examples: a great prop from a Brazilian attorney trying to reform Brazil’s tax system, nice (if edgy) humor from former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein responding to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s personal attack on him, our “You’ve Got Guts” award for FedEx CEO Fred Smith (with our enthusiastic applause) and articles with somewhat questionable communication advice.


“There’s a reason we let murderers and robbers and rapists go free when their due process rights have been violated,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, arguing that President Trump should be shown similar respect. (He managed to equate President Trump with murderers, robbers and rapists. Like so many other examples, Thornberry also had a good quote that got buried: “We believe the integrity of the system, the integrity of the constitution, the integrity of the processes under our legal system, is more important that the outcome of one particular case.” However, Thornberry’s remarks in general couldn’t have painted a worse picture. Note that Thornberry’s lead line became the headline.)

NBC News, “GOP congressman: If ‘murderers’ and ‘rapists’ get due process, Trump should too,” Nov. 10, 2019


“She is not canoodling me!” said disgraced former movie producer Harvey Weinstein in response to critiques of his interactions with actress Alexandra Vino at an exclusive nightclub event. At the nightclub, Vino was spotted dancing for and sitting in Weinstein’s lap. (“Canoodling”? Give us a break! Did we just return to the 1930s? Do today’s young people even know what the word means? According to Merriam-Webster, it’s “to engage in amorous embracing, caressing, and kissing.” And, of course, that’s exactly what was going on.)

Page Six, “Actress who sat on Harvey Weinstein’s lap denies romance,” Nov. 8, 2019

“We are not drag queens,” said Taylor Brown of Lambda Legal, an advocacy group for the LGBTQ community. (The Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a think tank that researches LGBTQ issues, published a report that illustrated “the diversity of the trans community, which numbers 1.4 million people in the U.S. or about .6% of all adults.” Brown should have instead emphasized why she thinks the visibility of trans people in communities indicates a diverse community beyond old stereotypes.)

USA Today, “‘We are not drag queens’: For transgender people in 2019, a conflicted reality of breakthroughs, barriers,” Nov. 19, 2019

“I’m not scared of my record at all,” said Rep. Michelle Beckley, D-Texas, when considering whether to continue to run on liberal policies and issues of the national Democratic party in her attempt to help Democrats reclaim the Texas House for the first time since 2003. (You’ve got to give her credit for honesty. She added, “I’m not even pretending. You look at your voting record and everything has become partisan, so why do I need to pretend to be something I’m not?” This is what democracy is all about. Bring on the debate!)

The Dallas Morning News, “As Democrats seek to take over the Texas House, do they stay to the left or move to the middle?” Nov. 2, 2019   

“This isn’t about weakening the president or electing Democrats,” said Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford when announcing the end of his short-lived candidacy for president. (What it was about was being back in the limelight. Sanford conducted one of the more memorable deceptions, when in 2009 he claimed to be hiking the Appalachian Trail while actually he was “canoodling” – couldn’t resist using the word! – with a mistress.)

USA Today, “Republican Mark Sanford drops out of presidential race,” Nov. 12, 2019

“They’re not at immediate risk for deportation, but we can’t sit here and say they won’t be deported,” said Ken Cuccinelli, acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, commenting on DACA Dreamers, whose American status is the subject of intense political debate. (What a terrifying quote! Here’s what he should have said: “We know our elected officials are debating the options, and we are committed to following the law while we respect each individual affected.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “Mr. President, Don’t Abandon the Dreamers,” Nov. 12, 2019

“We’re not currently pursuing a sale of the company,” said CyrusOne Inc. CEO, Gary Wojtaszek. (This is a great example that demonstrated how audiences hear things differently. Analysts at Wells Fargo who heard the CEO say this were surprised. Apparently, “they thought there was a greater than 50 percent chance of a deal.” However, based on the CEO’s comments and management’s refusal to comment, analysts concluded, “It's our baseline assumption at this point that there won't be any near-term acquisition.”)

Dallas Business Journal, “CyrusOne CEO: ‘We’re not currently pursuing a sale of the company,’” Oct. 31, 2019


“I don’t hit women but if I did I would hit you,” said basketball-great Charles Barkley in an interview with Axios reporter Alexi McCammond, who was predictably taken back and insulted. Compounding the problem, Barkley later told McCammond she “couldn’t take a joke.” (It’s hard to believe that anyone, let alone someone as smart as Barkley, wouldn’t know that joking about violence toward women is absolutely off limits. In this case, we can’t figure out the point he was trying to get across. He did issue an apology, but it looked like one of those “I-have-to” apologies rather than a realization that what he said was deeply offensive.)

USA Today, “Opinion: Charles Barkley’s ‘joke’ wasn’t funny, and neither was his defense of it,” Nov. 20, 2019

“Meth. We’re on it,” was the puzzling campaign tagline South Dakota used to launch its meth-prevention campaign. (South Dakota’s Department of Social Services paid a Minneapolis marketing firm almost $450,000 for this disaster. The campaign is much needed, as the meth crisis in the state is skyrocketing, but the campaign tagline, which was widely ridiculed, distracted attention away from the notice about resources for people who need help and the pitch for volunteers.)

KNBN NewsCenter1, “South Dakota announces new meth prevention campaign,” Nov. 18, 2019

“It was not our intent to lose anybody,” said Jim Spanfeller, chief executive of G/O Media, a company that operates sports website Deadspin and other websites for private equity firm Great Hill Partners. (Spanfeller was reacting to the resignation of all 20-plus Deadspin staff members who were protesting recent alleged maltreatment of “the site and its history” as well as the firing of Deadspin’s interim editor in chief, Barry Petchesky. The last employee to post a Deadspin story, Diana Moskovitz, reported that no one contacted her on her final workday. What will Deadspin publish without writers? Spanfeller said they will “make do.” Media reports on the site’s final days seemed to indicate that the editorial staff wanted to be free of managerial interference. What planet are they living on?)

The New York Times, “Deadspin’s Last Staff Member Quits. But Deadspin Is Not Dead, the Boss Says,” Nov. 1, 2019

“We’re not fighting between shareholders and ratepayers,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento calling for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), California’s mammoth power company, to be taken over by – customers.  (PG&E’s intentional blackouts and California’s wildfires have garnered ongoing, national attention but so has analysis pointing to over-government regulation and the movement of populations into wildfire areas. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo tried to claim, “We’re not delusional about the challenges here.” Maybe not, but they are delusional if they think changing the organizational structure will solve their operational problems.)

The New York Times, “California Mayors Back Plan to Make PG&E a Cooperative,” Nov. 5, 2019


Great prop! On a quest to reform Brazil’s out-of-control tax code, Brazilian attorney Vinicios Leoncio spent more than one million reais ($250,100) to assemble a complete printing of the code. At 41,266 pages, it weighed 7.5 tons and reached more than seven feet in height, which is “heavier than an African elephant” and “taller than LeBron James.” In order to adhere to all 41,266 pages of rules, “local companies spend almost 2,000 hours a year preparing their returns.” Leoncio took a picture of himself sitting on the printed volume of Brazil’s tax code. Genius!

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Brazil’s Massive Tax Code May Face Moment of Reckoning,” Nov. 5, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren attacked former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein by name in a television ad. Although he’s a Democrat who endorses many liberal issues, Blankfein responded with a tweet and humor: “Surprised to be featured in Sen. Warren’s campaign ad, given the many severe critics she has out there. Not my candidate, but we align on many issues. Vilification of people as a member of a group may be good for her campaign, not the country. Maybe tribalism is just in her DNA.” Obviously, Blankfein was poking fun at Warren’s discredited claim to be Native American. We thought this was deliciously pointed and appropriate.

The Wall Street Journal, “Elizabeth Warren Wants to Run Against Lloyd Blankfein,” Nov. 14, 2019

The New York Times published an article attacking FedEx for supporting the Trump administration’s tax-reform legislation. The New York Times displayed its economic ignorance by claiming that, post-tax cuts, FedEx’s effective tax rate decreased from “34 percent in fiscal year 2017 to less than zero in fiscal year 2018” and asserted that despite this dramatic decrease in its effective tax rate, FedEx “did not increase investment in new equipment and other assets in the fiscal year that followed.” FedEx CEO Fred Smith responded with a sharp rebuke and publicly challenged the publisher and business section editor to a public debate in Washington, DC, to discuss … federal tax policy and the relative societal benefits of business investments and the enormous intended benefits to the United States economy, especially lower and middle class wage earners.” Go Fred!

FedEx, “Statement from Frederick W. Smith, Chairman and CEO of FedEx Corporation,” Nov. 17, 2019

A Wall Street Journal article on “filler phrases” is really about phrases that speakers use to help them bridge to their message points. We’re generally supportive of the technique unless a speaker uses these phrases repetitively. This analysis is worth a glance for internal communications staff who coach executives and may need a third-party-expert opinion to convince their executives to commit to mastering the technique.

The Wall Street Journal, “Let’s Be Clear, Candidates Use a Lot of Filler Phrases,” Nov. 20, 2019

A New York Times article discussing a paper published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology about how to sound more confident and persuasive offered what we think is questionable advice. According to the paper, “you come off as more persuasive by speaking slightly louder than you normally do.” Not necessarily. We think they mean that if you speak in a normal range and don’t seem hesitant, that’s good. We’re concerned that readers will interpret this advice to mean over projection.

The New York Times, “How to – Literally – Sound More Confident and Persuasive,” Nov. 10, 2019


The BIMBO Memo is a reminder not to repeat and deny a negative word because of how the listener hears words. When you repeat and deny a negative word, the listener is likely to overlook the denial and hear the opposite of what the speaker is trying to say. It’s named for the young woman who was caught with a high profile, but alas married man. She held a press conference and announced, “I am not a BIMBO,” thus causing everyone to think she was.

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