Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for February 2014


  • Bimbo
  • February 1, 2014
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image e

We have a lot of BIMBO comments this month. Starting from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Madonna, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Civitas newspaper chain’s editorial director, a Coca-Cola spokesperson, the 2008 women’s track and field Olympic silver medalist and Kate Gosselin’s kids. There are Wrong Thing to Say examples from the Democratic candidate for Texas governor Wendy Davis, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the head of the NAACP, Vladimir Putin and Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y. We saw problematic tweets from companies and organizations trying to capitalize on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We also saw a troubling tweet from Japanese Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. We have an interesting example of how it’s hard to keep a secret from the presidential campaign staff of Hillary Clinton, and of how to make (bad) news when your actions contradict your words. There are also examples from Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., and New York’s director of homeland security. Delta offers a good example.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“We don’t want to keep perpetuating the myth that baby carrots are dyed or bleached,” said Bolthouse Farms spokeswoman Kathleen Corless, explaining why the company didn’t want to participate in a story that was verifying the rumor that baby carrots are soaked in chlorine. (This is the winner because the company’s ostensible communication adviser fell right into the trap of repeating the negative, and because the story was a reasonable investigation into the rumor. Corless had every opportunity to promote baby carrots as a healthy and delicious finger food. If you’re wondering, yes, baby carrots are briefly soaked in a chlorine solution that is equivalent to about the same level of what’s found in tap water to limit risks from E.coli. It’s the same process that all prepackaged foods like lettuce get as a safety measure.)

Fox News, “The truth behind baby carrots,” Jan. 7, 2014

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I don’t want to be a villain, because I’m not a villainous person,” wrote Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in a lengthy blog post entitled “To those who would call me a Thug or Worse,” discussing his now famous interview with Erin Andrews that generated a spirited, sometimes vengeful reaction from viewers. (We hate to give Sherman a “BIMBO” or even a “Wrong Thing to Say” because we like to recognize good writing and passion. The blog post is extremely well done, and aside from the “villain” and “thug” lines, it’s actually uplifting and forward looking. He closes, writing that the Super Bowl “is a match made in heaven, and we couldn’t be more excited.” We agree. Congratulations on the win.)

The MMQB, “To Those Who Would Call me a Thug or Worse,” Jan. 20, 2014

“Journalism isn’t dying,” wrote Christopher Callahan, Dean of the Journalism School at Arizona State’s Downtown Phoenix campus in a Q&A in  a leading trade publication. (Ouch. The question posed was, “What are your views about the evolution of the field and those who insist that it’s heading toward extinction?” and he began with, “I hear people say, ‘journalism is dying,’ all the time. Journalism isn’t dying.”  The rest of the story is interesting, although deceptive in its narrow focus and optimism. From where we sit, journalism has changed dramatically. Bloggers are now quoted as third-party experts, and the expectation that a reporter will try to ascertain the factual basis for something has diminished to almost extinction. We know there are fewer reporters and hardly any beat reporters, 24/7 deadlines, etc. Except in business publications, there is a fundamental lack of understanding of economics and business concepts among journalists. Note that the BIMBO comment migrated, as it often does, to the headline.)

The Strategist, “Journalism isn’t Dying,” Winter 2013

“I’m not a bully,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in a now-famous press conference apologizing for aides who apparently shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge in retaliation for the mayor of Fort Lee declining to endorse his reelection campaign. (What more is there to say about this? Opinion about whether the almost-two hour session was effective is divided. We thought it was way too long; others feel he stayed and answered every question, took decisive action and didn’t shirk responsibility. We think this actually leaves the governor stronger because it has caused him to question whether to loosen up and replace the tight cadre of advisers he has had since the beginning of his career. Ever since Will Sparks’ book “Who Spoke to the President Last?” was published in the 1950s, observers recognize that access to the chief executive is a jealously guarded asset. The incident generated a raft of other comments, including the BIMBO comment from the Republican National Committee rep from Iowa, Steve Scheffler, who said  , “I wouldn’t declare Christie’s candidacy dead.” Neither would we. If any of you know the governor, please pass along the “No BIMBO” advice. And note, the BIMBO comment makes it into the headline.)

ABC World News, “Christie Fires Top Aide in Bridge Scandal, Says ‘I’m not a Bully,’” Jan. 9, 2014

“I am not a racist,” said singer and pop culture celebrity Madonna after she posted an Instagram picture of her son at a boxing match and used the ‘N’ word. (In a bizarre statement, she insisted the comment was “a term of endearment toward my son who is white.” The original post said, “No one messes with Dirty Soap! Mama said knock you out!” and then added the ‘N’ word.” This incident also included the annoying “apology” language of “if I offended anyone.” Of course people were offended. That’s why they wrote back. This is yet another example of “think before you post,” and never use a bad word.)

CBS, “Madonna apologizes for using racial slur on Instagram,” Jan. 18, 2014

“I’m not gay,” said Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He was intending to quash rumors about his sexual orientation, but we doubt this puts them to rest. (This is an example of the difficulty of denying a negative. Rodgers was asked about the good and bad things that come with fame, and he raised the issue, saying, “I’m not gay. I really, really like women. That’s all I can say about that.” The denial leapt from a Milwaukee radio show to the national news. He also said, “There’s always going to be silly stuff out there in the media.  You can’t worry about it too much. I don’t.” He should have stuck to that. Again, note that the BIMBO comment migrates into the headline.)

Fox Sports, “Packers QB Aaron Rodgers tackles Internet rumors: ‘I’m not gay,’” Jan. 1, 2014

“He is no more of a traitor than I am and I am not a traitor,” said Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, welcoming former NSA contractor and leaker Edward Snowden to the Board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. (While we freely admit that the government promiscuously labels material “secret” and is on dubious constitutional grounds with its justification for the humongous effort to collect data on millions of citizens, Snowden is a leaker and a traitor. Our friends in law enforcement and national security tell us that he has caused significant damage to American efforts to track and disrupt terrorist and other activities that threaten our country. We’ll decline to characterize Ellsberg and just pass on his own denial that he’s a traitor.)

The New York Times, “Snowden to Join Board of the Freedom of Press Foundation,” Jan. 14, 2014  

“We have no plans to publish any lists or databases of people’s names on conceal and carry,” said Jim Lawitz, director of content for the national newspaper chain Civitas, a after the news leaked that it planned to compile state-by-state lists of holders of concealed carry permits. The plans were revealed in an email to its newspapers. (This appears to be based on a 2012 publication by a New York state newspaper of a map identifying gun owners in two counties that included their names and addresses. The Civitas project was revealed when one of the email recipients shared it with a nonprofit that advocates for Second Amendment rights. Lawitz’s protestation that they were only collecting the information with no plans to publish it is disingenuous. Newspaper staffs are stretched thin. When a major effort is undertaken to research and collect data, of course the news outlet intends to publish it, and with much fanfare. This also serves as an example of how information will not stay “inside” an organization. Don’t say something to your internal audience that you wouldn’t say to an external one – because it will become public.)

Fox News, “Newspaper chain plans ‘state-by-state’ concealed weapon databases,” Jan. 24, 2014 

“I can confirm that we did not pressure Fox,” said a spokesperson for Coca-Cola about Fox’s decision to reject a SodaStream ad for the Super Bowl because it ended with the comment, “Sorry Coke and Pepsi.” (It’s possible that Fox pressured itself, but SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum is right when he says “Which advertisement doesn’t mention its competitor?”  This is worth noting as an example because Coke is a fabulous marketing company but their spokesperson falls into the BIMBO trap. She should have said, “Our slogan is ‘open happiness,’ ‘nuff said.’”)

USA Today, “SodaStream flatened – yet again,” Jan. 27, 2014 

“I am a not a cheat,” said 2008 Olympic 100-meter sprint silver medalist Sherone Simpson at an anti-doping hearing in Jamaica after she tested positive for a banned substance, Oxilofrine. (We’re on Simpson’s side, assuming the facts are as the local paper reported. Anti-doping rules mitigate punishment if the athlete is not at fault. Simpson was taking a new vitamin supplement from a Canadian trainer and researched every ingredient on the label, crosschecking them with prohibited ones. The cross examining attorney berated her for not taking the list to a physician and not anticipating that any supplements could be contaminated. We hope he backs off and that she gets to compete. As so often happens, the BIMBO comment made the headline.)

The Gleaner, “I am not a cheat,” Jan. 8, 2014    

“We’re not messed up,” Kate Gosselin’s kids told People Magazine in a cover story for which they were presumably paid.  (Please tell us this isn’t the next installment of the reality debacle that started as “Jon & Kate Plus 8” about Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight children, and then became “Kate Plus 8” after Jon and Kate divorced amid nasty allegations of adultery. Not that we think Jon is a great guy, but we agree with his claim that Kate is using the kids as a continuing publicity stunt. We agree with the second part of the headline:  Mom is annoying.)

The Huffington Post, “Kate Gosselin’s Kids Say They’re ‘Not Messed Up,’ But Think Their Mom Is Annoying,” Jan. 8, 2014

WRONG THING TO SAY, DO OR TWEET

“My language should be tighter. I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the details,” Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis said after the Dallas Morning News and other publications found inaccuracies and omissions in her biography and campaign narrative. (While some of the misstatements are trivial, they are concerning. She was 21, not 19, when she divorced, and she lived in a trailer home for only a few months. More concerning, she married Jeff Davis who paid for her to finish college and cashed out his 401(k) so she could attend Harvard Law School. As he made the final payment, she divorced him, and he got full custody of their two children. As a lawyer, Davis should be aware of the dangers of “broader, looser” language. While she clearly is, as she states, “the epitome of hard work and optimism,” she’s also clearly guilty of deliberately skewing her biography and life story. Worse, some of her supporters, apparently trying to shift the focus, are posting blog comments charging that her opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is confined to a wheelchair after a 1984 accident, is faking his condition for sympathy. An undercover video reveals several of her supporters, possible campaign staff, mocking Abbott and his wheelchair. As of this writing, Davis has not disavowed those comments and demanded that they cease. It’s going to be a long campaign.)

The Dallas Morning News, “As Wendy Davis touts life story in race for governor, key facts blurred,” Jan. 18, 2014

“They have no place in the state of New York,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo, characterizing New Yorkers as “extreme conservatives” if they are “right to life, pro assault weapons, anti-gay.” (After the predictable outraged reaction, the governor tried to backtrack , claiming he was only talking about political candidates who would be unable to get elected if they held this constellation of views and that, of course, he recognized that people could be both pro-life and pro-second amendment. Alas, he made his original comments on the radio, so his actual words are on-the-record. In a letter to the New York Post, the governor said he respects other positions. We certainly hope so, but we aren’t holding our collective breath.)

Washington Examiner, “New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Pro-life people not welcome in New York,” Jan. 20, 2014

“A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy,” said NAACP President William Barber II about Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., who is the lone black Republican in Congress and one of only two black senators. (Ouch! What a racist and pathetic rant! He could have said “We share a race but disagree about every issue,” or “We’re proud of his accomplishments but we would be more proud if he were a liberal.” It’s patently obvious that the once-respected NAACP can’t imagine that a black person could reach a different conclusion about policy issues.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Smearing Tim Scott,” Jan. 23, 2014

“Just leave the children alone,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin, insisting that gay individuals would be welcome at the Olympic Games in Sochi despite recent legislation criminalizing homosexual behavior, adding, “We don’t have a ban on non-traditional sexual relations. We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia.” Note that the mayor of Sochi insists there are no gay individuals in the city. (Whatever one’s position on gay rights, gay marriage and so on, we note that the U.S. is the champion for First Amendment rights and freedoms, and everyone should visit the Newseum in D.C. to learn about what the First Amendment means and why it’s incumbent that we trumpet our God-given freedoms as the right of people around the world.)

BBC, “Sochi 2014: No gay people in city, says mayor,” Jan. 26, 2014

“You ever do that to me again, I’ll throw you off this f---g balcony,” said Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., to television station NY1 after the State of the Union speech, adding “You’re not man enough, I’ll break you in half, like a boy.” (Who is advising the Republicans in Washington? Someone who writes graphic novels? The exchange occured after reporter Michael Scotto asked Grimm for reaction to the speech and then tried to ask about an ongoing investigation into allegations of campaign finance issues. Grimm assumed the camera and microphone were off and became enraged when Scotto continued to follow him and ask questions. This is kindergarten behavior. First, the mic and camera are always on. Second, if your supporters are being investigated for campaign finance issues, you’re going to get asked about it. Smile and say “this isn’t the place for a discussion,” then wave and walk away. Expect this exchange to appear in many campaign ads for Democrats to prove Republicans are profane meanies. Incidentally, Scotto handled himself well, didn’t overplay the exchange and accepted Grimm’s apology and said he believed it was sincere.)

NY1, Rep. Grimm Apologizes to NY 1 Reporter for On-Camera Threat,” Jan. 29, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was supposed to be an occasion to honor the fallen civil rights leader, volunteer and reflect on justice and inclusiveness. Unfortunately, a number of commercial brands tried to piggy back on his legacy and tweet their own messages. They generated lots of criticism and illustrated the risks of using the social media channel for corporate messages. A sampling: PETA tweeted, “Today, we honor Martin Luther King Jr & the plight of animals who are tortured, abused & neglected.” (Disrespectful. It appears to equate civil rights for people, especially African Americans, with animal cruelty.) Pornhub: “Happy MLK. In honor of his death, make sure to use the Ebony category today,” and a follow up, “Apology: MLK would have wanted everyone to watch the Interracial category today.” (That’s too disgusting.) McDonald’s: “MLKDay 2014, we’re proud to celebrate our rich tradition of diversity and inclusion.” (We actually like that one.) Malt-O-Meal: “Happy Martin Luther King Jr., Day. Get a good breakfast so you’re fueled to do something meaningful today!” (Much too promotional.) Chicken of the Sea: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.”  (We like that one, too.) Hats.com: “Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., day with a hat from hats.com.” (Again, too promotional.) And tweeting invites individuals to join in the conversation sometimes  in ways a company might not like. One person hijacked Dow Chemical’s handle to write “Dow Chemical. I’m making a difference by not poisoning people.”

Tweets also risk losing context, and they’re anything but subtle. Caroline Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, tweeted “Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposed drive hunt fisheries,” and drew excoriating replies from the Japanese public. (USG refers to the U.S. government. Robert Dujarric, director of the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University of Japan in Tokyo, wrote, “There are far more important questions between the U.S. and Japan. The key to the dolphin business is getting Japanese to oppose it. But will this help? Or, on the contrary, will it start a nationalistic reaction against meddling by a (foreign) country?” We agree. The ambassador needs to start behaving like one.)

USA Today, “Japan criticizes dolphin tweet from Kennedy,” Jan. 22, 2014

NOTHING’S SECRET (ANY MORE)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton found this out when two writers for The Hill published the news that her presidential campaign staff had created a “hit list” of people they felt had betrayed the candidate on a scale of one to seven. Rating “sevens” were Sens. Claire McCaskill, Mo., Jay Rokefeller, W.Va., Bob Casey, PA, Patrick Lehy, Vt., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Md. (This also demonstrates the power of a negative word; the term “hit list” made it into the headline.)

The Hill, “Clinton adviser plays down hit list,” Jan. 12, 2014

AND WATCH OUT IF YOUR ACTIONS CONTRADICT YOUR WORDS

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., suggested that low-income students should work in the cafeteria because “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” (This invited a local TV station to track how many “free lunches” Kingston had collected over four continents appearing at industry conferences, charged to tax payers or at the Republican Club on Capitol Hill. The total was over $30,000. The fact that it’s apples and oranges is irrelevant. The point is that Kingston didn’t think through what reaction his words were liable to provoke.)

The Huffington Post, “Jack Kingston Says There’s ‘No Such Thing As Free Lunch,’ But Gets Free Lunch All the Time,” Jan. 10, 2014

Safety first? New York’s director of homeland security, Jerome Hauer, was giving a presentation to visiting foreign VIPs and needed a laser pointer. What better choice than the laser sighting device on his Glock 9 mm handgun? Worse, he tracked the pointer to the forehead of a Swedish visitor. (Another interesting tidbit is that the incident took place in late October but only became public in January, apparently because one person said “you won’t believe this…” to another who told another who told another.)

The Raw Story, “Report: New York homeland security chief used handgun as laser pointer during speech,” Jan. 6, 2014 

GOOD EXAMPLE

And when a company does live up to its word, even if it didn’t mean them originally, it builds trust and credibility – even if the government requires it! A computer glitch turned Delta airfares into $25 ultra-bargains for two hours until the company spotted and fixed the mistake. Consumers who snared the fares said, “It was too good to be true,” and Delta’s spokesperson said, “Delta will honor any fares purchased at the incorrect price.” Thumbs up to Delta!

The Associated Press, “Delta to honor cheap fares sold by mistake,” Dec. 27, 2013



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