Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for July 2013


  • Bimbo
  • July 1, 2013
  • by Spaeth Communications

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June was a rich month for the Memo. Be sure to read the full Memo where there are additional BIMBOs from President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, The Guardian, Gen. Keith Alexander, Homeland Security Administration Secretary Janet Napolitano, and Paula Deen, who so brilliantly illustrated the power of a “bad word.” Actor Michael Douglas, Serena Williams, lifestyle magazine Bon Appétit and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) are featured in the Wrong Thing to Say Category. Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is in a category by himself. Proving that a picture can tell a great story, see Alabama Professor Roy Spencer’s picture story about climate change. The CEO of Herbalife gives a good example of controlling the quote through an acknowledgement and we include the “Headline of the Month.” There’s also a creative example of “no comment” from Verizon.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I have done nothing wrong,” trumpeted NSA leaker Edward Snowden. By now, everyone knows that Snowden, 29, a contractor for consulting giant, Booz Allen, leaked massive amounts of secret documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post, revealing that the government had been collecting data from hundreds of millions of sources. Called PRISM, the system collected information from Internet companies, and “Boundless Informant,” tracked and cataloged NSA’s data. Snowden’s disclosure left the NSA, intelligence agencies and the Administration uttering BIMBO after BIMBO. (Among the many examples: when asked if he planned to intercept Snowden on a potential international journey, instead of just saying “no,” (what we call a simple acknowledgement) President Obama took the bait and gave a long response about extradition and conversations with the Russians, ending with “No, I’m not going to be scrambling jets to get a 29-year-old hacker.” Why was this a mistake? It competed with the President’s message about his trip to Africa. The “scrambling jets” line was in countless press reports and frequently made the headline.)

USA Today, “I Have Done Nothing Wrong,” June 10, 2013

Weekly Standard, “I’m Not Going to be Scrambling Jets to Get a 29-year-old Hacker,” June 27, 2013

THE RUNNERS-UP

“Don’t panic,” was the advice from financial analyst Kevin Pleines as the stock markets reacted precipitously to judiciously worded comments from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that the Fed might – might – start pulling back its bond-buying program. (Mr. Pleines and others urged caution in Fed watching; predictably the “panic” line overshadowed the more judicious, “pay attention to the Fed.” Mr. Pleines should have quit with that.)

USA Today, “Analyst to investors: ‘Don’t panic’ about market,” June 21, 2013

“I do not want to create even the impression of impropriety or the appearance of a conflict of interest with any contractor my office uses,” said Congressman Luis Gutierrez (I-Ill) who gave $500,000 of taxpayer funds to his former chief-of-staff-turned-lobbyist, Doug Scofield, ostensibly to “publicize programs and activities” for the Congressman and to train staff over a ten-year period. Gutierrez’s communications director added that Scofield “was never involved in securing federal funding for any clients of his company.” (Well, that’s a relief. The scope of this scam can be illustrated by noting that Guiterrez’s office paid Scofield $72,000 in 2012 for “training” while all other lawmakers spent a total of $261,000 on “training.” The Congressman may not have wanted to create the appearance of impropriety, but he succeeded.)

USA Today, “Taxpayers bankroll Chicago lobbyist,” June 6, 2013

“It’s not a black helicopter ploy and we’re not trying to get inside people’s minds and brains,” said Education Secretary Arne Duncan about growing opposition to the Administration’s effort to promote a national curriculum called Common Core. (Partly fueling opposition and skepticism, is the Administration’s current claim that Common Core is a state-based initiative that they had nothing to do with. Last fall, the Washington Post noted in an article, entitled “Obama Drives Education Reform by Sidestepping Congress,” that “Race to the Top” funding competition was “inducing” states to adopt changes and end running Congress. This isn’t the place to exhaustively discuss Common Core except to note that, like Obama Care, many states have signed on to get “Race to the Top” funding without even seeing the core requirements which are under development.)

National Review, “Tea Party Revives to Fight Common Core,” May 31, 2013

“We don’t want to tax all businesses out of business,” said President Obama at a private fundraising event. The president also waded into the “war on coal” issue by saying, “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for the greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”(Notice the line makes it into the headline. Obama science advisor, Daniel Shrag, said in an interview, “Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” Sounds pretty clear to us; the Administration plans to go around Congress with its tax and regulatory strategy.)

Wall Street Journal, “The Carbonated President,” June 26, 2013

“I am not a sex offender,” was the headline about a report detailing a successful effort by non-profit Women with a Vision in New Orleans. For years, there were two kinds of prostitution convictions in Louisiana. Specifically, women can be charged with a misdemeanor or women who engaged in oral sex as prostitutes were classified as felons and put on the sex offender list, something which followed these women for decades. Women with a Vision challenged the laws and won. (Deon Haywood, director of the organization, had a terrific comment worth noting; “I challenge those people who say that change can’t happen in the South. Because it did, and don’t say the little man can’t win, because we did.” It does, alas, illustrate the power of both negative words and the risk of trying to deny them. The headline alone screams the “sex offender” issue.)

Salon, “I am not a sex offender,” June 13, 2013

“He’s anything but a slumlord,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell about his “friend,” Richard Basciano who owned the building in downtown Philadelphia which was supposed to be demolished but fell onto an adjacent building, killing some inside. (The accident drew unwanted attention to Basciano’s operations noting that he was once “the king of porn.” The Governor is supposed to be a friend of Basciano. It’s clear from reports that a labor boss who tangled with Basciano’s companies called him a “slumlord.” The reporter asked Rendell “Is he a slumlord?” and the Governor repeated it back as a negative. It would have been better for him to say, “I’ve known Richard and he has made an important contribution to Philadelphia.”)

Philadelphia Inquirer, “Developer’s grand plan for Market Street crashes down,” June 10, 2013

The NSC flap over PRISM and Boundless Informant produced a torrent of BIMBOs.

- “This is not a situation in which we are rifling through the ordinary emails of German citizens or American citizens or anybody else. This is not a situation where we simply go into the internet and start searching any way that we want,” said President Obama. (The president spoke while on a trip to Berlin as the issue created a furor in Europe.)

- “PRISM is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program,” said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Notice the denial became the headline.)

- Even the Guardian, the initial beneficiary of the leaked material, lashed out at critics. “We’re not engaged in a mindless, indiscriminate document dump,” said writer Glenn Greenwald. (This is an example of “inverted speech,” because he continues, “We’re engaged in the standard journalistic assessment of whether the public value of publication outweighs any harms.” That’s the quote he should have stuck with.)

- “This is not us doing something under the covers,” said Gen. Keith Alexander, director of NSA.

- “I think people have gotten the idea that there’s an Orwellian state out there that somehow we’re operating in. That’s far from the case,” said HSA Secretary Janet Napolitano. (She injected the word “Orwellian.’” Note it made the headline.)

Guardian, “Barack Obama: NSA is not rifling through ordinary people’s emails,” June 19, 2013

“Greenwald: Some parts of NSA story won’t be published,” June 8, 2013

USA Today, “Parts of NSA’s PRISM program declassified,” June 8, 2013

USA Today, “NSA chief: Surveillance programs protect Americans,” June 13, 2013

Politicker.com, “Janet Napolitano Denies Existence of ‘Orwellian State’” June 14, 2013

“I is what I is, and I’m not changing,” Paula Deen told the “Today Show” in an interview following the flap over the leaked deposition revealing that she had used what’s referred to as the n-word. (Our view is that this is an example of the power of a “bad” word and the failure of her lawyers. Ms. Deen’s lawyers should have taken measures to neutralize any potential publicity should the deposition be leaked. This would have been a great time to have competitive material. Imagine if Deen could have released a videotaped conversation with an African American church group on wide ranging topics including health and southern foods where Deen could have said, almost as a throwaway, that she wanted to reach out to the group because as a younger person, she had thoughtlessly used racial slurs and she had come to realize how hurtful the words were.)

Los Angeles Times, “Paula Deen on ‘Today’: ‘I is what I is and I’m not changing,’” June 26, 2013

WRONG THING TO SAY

“This particular cancer is caused by HPV [human papillomavirus] which actually comes about from [oral sex],” said actor Michael Douglas in the middle of a long interview with The Guardian about his career, throat cancer and his new TV movie “The Candelabra.” (The writer was clearly astonished, asking “From what? For a moment I think that I may have misheard.”  The issue generated a trove of interviews and speculation about whether Douglas’ wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones, had the HPV virus or cancer and more statements from Douglas, “Catherine is healthy. She does not have the HPV virus.”  And Barbara Walters reporting that Douglas told her, “He is not saying that he doesn’t have it, what he is saying is that it didn’t come from Catherine.” Just a reminder not to bring up topics that you haven’t rehearsed discussing.)

The Guardian, “Michael Douglas on Liberace, Cannes, cancer and (oral s*x) June 2, 2013

USA Today, “Douglas: Wife Catherine ‘is healthy,’” June 5, 2013

Serena Williams was roundly criticized and forced to retreat from a comment about the 16-year-old girl raped during a drunken party in Steubenville, Ohio. Williams opined obliquely that it was “stupid” for a girl that age to drink. (Williams made her comment inartfully and was predictably forced to grovel and apologize. But we’re with you Serena – women have a responsibility to behave smartly and that means de coupling – no pun intended – alcohol and sex. Williams is such a strong, iconic figure that she could have said something similar.)

USA Today, “Serena apologizes for statements on rape case,” June 19, 2013  

It’s a cliché because it’s true; men like grilling things. Women like grilling things, too, of course, but at this point in history, grilling, like crying about sports, and being a Fortune 500 CEO, is firmly located in the domain of Dude,” was the lede in a Bon Appétit story about grilling. The article predictably generated significant backlash.  (The magazine redacted the paragraph, but the damage was done noting “inadvertently sexist attempt humor deleted.”)

Huffington Post, “‘Bon Appétit’ suggest Fortune 500 CEO and Grillmaster are Men’s Jobs,” June 19, 2016

Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey (R) told fellow House colleagues that young boys and girls should take classes on traditional gender because there some things  fathers  do “maybe a little bit better than mothers.” (Classes on “traditional gender roles?” What’s that? Of course fathers do some things better than mothers. Does the Congressman envision pictures of moms in aprons and dads with chainsaw in hand? This kind of inarticulate statement makes it easy to ridicule conservatives.)

Huffington Post, “Phil Gingrey, In DOMA Speech, Says Children Should Take Classes On Traditional Gender Roles,” June 19, 2013

GOOD EXAMPLE

The companies snared by the government’s secret orders faced a quandary; the news was everywhere, but they were theoretically not allowed to acknowledge it. Verizon did a good job splitting the proverbial baby. They sent an employee-wide memo saying “we have no comment on the accuracy of The Guardian newspaper story” and then they proceed to comment by restating that the “alleged  court order compels Verizon to respond and forbids Verizon from revealing the order’s existence.”

Crains New York, “Verizon Responds to domestic spying report,” June 6, 2013

A CATEGORY OF HIS OWN

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner is making a sort of comeback as a candidate for New York Mayor. The campaign is worth following, and Jesse Strauss, a member of the New Kings Democrats club observed, “He has no shame.”

Politicker.com, “Anthony Weiner Gets Into Shouting Match in First Confrontation Over Sexting Scandal,” June 5, 2013   

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Check out this picture comparing the actual data on temperature gathered by weather balloons and satellites versus the predictions from 73 models. If you’re wondering whether the data supports the claims that there is “settled science” on the issue of climate change, this is worth checking out. The scientist who put it together, Professor Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, also explains in a few paragraphs why the “settled science” mythology is a bad idea.

Financialpost.com, “Junk Science Week: Epic climate model failure," June 13, 2013

GOOD USE OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Businessweek did a tough, but balanced profile of the frequently-controversial company, Herbalife. Michael Johnson, the new CEO, was asked pointblank if the company has ever been a pyramid scheme and reports that Johnson “says simply, ‘No.’” (Excellent example. He didn’t fall into the trap of repeating and denying the negative which would certainly have been a boxed quote.)

Businessweek, “The Meaning of Herbalife,” May 23, 2013

HEADLINE OF THE MONTH

“Weird news: Drinking only soda for 16 years is bad, man rips off p*nis, pork bullets,” (These are actually three completely separate stories, but packaging them in the headline creates a strange narrative.)

Alabama.com, “World Can be a Strange Place,” June 25, 2013



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