Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for January 2011


  • Bimbo
  • January 1, 2011
  • by Spaeth Communications

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We have several celebrity BIMBOS this month and an example of why Twitter should be seized from two immature celebrity singers who utilize the * key too much. This month also features examples from convicted exchange student Amanda Knox and the Wrong Thing to Say from Eliot Spitzer. We consider the problem of the NON BIMBO, which is when the speaker clearly resisted repeating the negative word only to have the reporter or headline writer print it anyway. A FIFA executive committee member gets this treatment. We think Federal Chairman Bernanke might want to lay off the TV gig, and we support the airline pilot’s comment about airport security.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I don’t like this perception that we’re confused or disoriented or we don’t know what we’re doing,” said Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. (Well, at least they didn’t get Cliff Lee, but the fabled pinstripe wearers did have their share of problems this season. Did I mention the Rangers beat them for the pennant? Of course, Cashman should have said, “We’ve got a lot of strengths and that’s what we’re focusing on.”)

ESPN.com, “Yankees’ loss is Red Sox’s gain,” Dec. 14, 2010

THE RUNNERS-UP

“Not a seedy strip club,” was how Hooters Vice President Mike McNeil described his company when combating a legal complaint filed by the National Organization for Women (NOW). NOW alleges Hooters is an unsuitable environment for kids. (This is an interesting example of inverted speech, where a speaker says both the right and wrong thing. Before he made the “seedy strip club” comment, Mr. McNeil said, “The Hooters brand of sex appeal is wholesome and that of the all-American cheerleader.” We agree with critics who ridiculed NOW noting there are much more dangerous threats than Hooters’ short shorts.)

Daily Caller Magazine, “NOW says Hooters is inappropriate for kids,” Dec. 20, 2010

“I did not have affair with Tony Parker,” whined Erin Barry, ex-wife of Parker’s former NBA teammate Brent Barry. (Ms. Barry took to her Facebook page and addressed the rumors as being “naïve, ridiculous, and completely misguided.” While we’re with her in theory, if you’re issuing statements about your personal life on Facebook and eager to take advantage of the paparazzi when they want to make you look good, these are the consequences. Again, this is an example where half of what Ms. Barry wrote was the right thing to say; she just didn’t stop in time.)

US Weekly, “Erin Barry: ‘I did not have an affair with Tony Parker,’” Dec. 3, 2010

“I am not homophobic,” tweeted R&B singer Chris Brown in an ongoing exchange with Raz-B, a member of R&B group B2K. (We can’t duplicate all their insults and curses at each other, but suffice it to say they are inarticulate, ungrammatical, inappropriate, self-centered and clearly designed to please the gossip rags. Can’t someone please shut down their Twitter accounts?)

US Weekly, “Chris Brown Apologizes for Using Gay Slurs on Twitter,” Dec. 30, 2010

“They say I am dangerous, devilish, jealous, uncaring and violent,” said Amanda Knox before an Italian appeals court. Knox was convicted of murdering and sexually assaulting her roommate in Italy. (This is a tragedy. Meredith Kercher, the roommate, is dead, undeniably killed in a horrible manner, but Amanda hardly seems like the murderous type. The British and Italian press treated the initial trial like a hotly contested celebrity affair. New evidence has surfaced which seems to back up Amanda’s version of events, but these comments are clearly the wrong thing to say. Again, she gets to saying the right thing, “I am not the person the accusers say I am,” but this illustrates the problem with saying the right thing and the wrong thing in the same sentence.

National Post, “Knox: ‘I was never that girl,’” Dec. 14, 2010

“I’m not a lesbian…I’m not even kind of a lesbian,” said Oprah Winfrey when Barbara Walters asked if there was any truth to the rumor that she is gay, an allegation sparked by a long relationship with Gayle King. (This is yet another classic BIMBO. Winfrey actually had something very positive to say of King, “[she’s] the mother I never had…the sister everybody would want…the friend everybody deserves.” Unfortunately, next to the denial we forget her kind remarks.)  

ABC News, “Oprah Winfrey: ‘I’m not a Lesbian,’” Dec. 8, 2010

THE NON BIMBO

Similarly, Spain’s Angel Villa Llona, a FIFA executive committee member, went to great lengths responding to allegations of corruption concerning whether countries were paying FIFA for consideration by saying, “Recently we have been criticized by many media outlets. Unfortunately for them FIFA is a clean institution.” Villa Llona clearly made the effort to use the word “clean” and to get a competitive message out, “FIFA values honesty, FIFA works for football and for the world, and all my colleagues here present are all honest, hard-working football people.” Despite his efforts, the headline is a BIMBO: We are not corrupt.” (This is a challenge. The committee member knows from the question the reporter wants him to repeat the negative word. He doesn’t oblige and has a quotable, strong counter quote. How do you get the reporter and/or headline writer not to take matters into their own hands? We had several examples in 2010 of speakers – or their press representatives – asking a writer not to use a word, which only resulted in the reporter gleefully writing, “So and so asked us not to use the word ‘corrupt’.” Our best advice: leave it alone and keep pounding your truthful message home. Also, remember the power of video, which will capture exactly what is said.)

CNN.com, “‘We are not corrupt,’ insists FIFA official,” Dec. 2, 2010

THE WRONG THING TO SAY

We guess the concept of shame has totally disappeared. Former Governor Eliot Spitzer, now CNN co-host, blasted Republicans claiming the American public is “being held hostage” by their insistence that current tax rates be extended. Not to be outdone for snarky one-liners, co-host Kathleen Parker added, “I got stuck on the image of being held hostage by 42 Republicans – talk about a bad date.” (Apart from the one-sided nature of the “debate” and the lack of economic literacy regarding tax rates, this is an example of word use. Both hosts fell in love with the word “hostage” and used it repeatedly. It’s also an example of how language drives policy. By using the word “rich” to describe those affected by higher tax rates, those favoring higher taxes seek to stigmatize and demonize their opponents. They also seek to separate Americans by class or aspiration, a dangerous tactic.)

Newsbusters.com, “CNN’s Spitzer: ‘Every One of Us is Being Held Hostage’ By Senate GOP,” Dec. 2, 2010

THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE

Paul Pindar, CEO of Capita, a large outsourcing firm in the U.K., was upset when protesting workers handed out a leaflet claiming he made £9.8 million. He produced an audited report explaining he “only earns” £14,500 per week! (There are a number of lessons to learn in this example. First, Pindar was astonished his employees were not relieved to discover he “only” earns £14,500 a week, and that they were still outraged at his compensation. The employees were only getting a one percent raise. Clearly, there is no one who can honestly counsel this CEO. Second, the controversy generated a good deal of press in which the experts were also saying the wrong thing. An adjunct professor at the University of Illinois (with a title that conveys she should know something about communication) advises the CEO to explain “the pay is the only way to stay competitive with other companies” or note the “executive uses a large portion of his or her salary for charity, foundations, scholarships or some other humanitarian purpose.” Sorry Charlie! Talking about your own compensation is a no-win topic. Employees know if a CEO deserves what he makes or not. Do Southwest Airlines employees begrudge Herb Kelleher one penny of what he made? For years, Bill Gates paid himself $250,000 and took the rest in stock. If you create jobs and treat employees fairly, they’ll tolerate high CEO compensation. However, don’t expect the frontline employees to have the same perspective. Pindar only showed how out-of-touch he is with real people.)

Daily Mail Reporter, “How dare you call me a fat cat, I only earn £14,500 a WEEK,” Dec. 15, 2010

THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE

Maybe Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke might want to rethink the TV gig. Appearing on CBS’s “60 Minutes” he noted the economic recovery “may not be” self-sustaining and continued to defend the Fed’s handling of the financial crisis including actions like bailing out AIG.  (We’re always arguing officials should get out there and communicate, but this might be one instance where less is more.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Inflation Risk is Low, Fed Says,” Dec. 5, 2010

THE TRUTH HURTS

“Airport security is kind of a farce,” said pilot Chris Liu. He posted footage on YouTube showing ground crews can enter secure areas by only swiping a card, quite different from the poking, prodding and x-raying passengers undergo. TSA officials went to Liu’s home, confiscated his gun and pilot credentials and Liu was told he was being investigated. (Gee whiz. Cut the guy some slack. He’s only echoing what so many of us travel warriors already know: The whole security program aims to provide the illusion of security. Driven by political correctness that requires 90 year olds with oxygen masks be strip searched, and no consistency between airports or even personnel within the same airport, we wearily tolerate the assault on our dignity. It’s not a question of safety versus danger. And, airline pilots are among the most professional, highly trained individuals in the world. No one is more committed to safety than the pilot of a commercial airliner.)

ABC News, “Pilot Believed Security Videos ‘innocuous’,” Dec. 28, 2010


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