Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for June 2012


  • Bimbo
  • June 1, 2012
  • by Spaeth Communications

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What a full month! Click through to the full BIMBO to read comments from Ted Nugent, a Brazilian prosecutor who attacked Chevron, University of California, Berkeley’s athletic director, a Ph.D. who uses food stamps, the CEO of Union Pacific, someone being sued by her ex-fiancé, lawyer Gloria Allred defending a former Houston Chronicle reporter with an interesting side job and the New York City commissioner of consumer affairs. This month also features some embarrassing typos that should have been caught by a teachers union and the LBJ School at the University of Texas (one reacts well, the other does not.) We have “Wrong Thing to Say” examples from Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson , a Columbia professor who thinks Occupy Wall Street protestors are just “playful,” and a speaker at a global Dell conference who insults women. Terrell Owens (surprisingly) says something right, the TSA provides an example of misusing statistics and a CFO tweets his way into losing his job.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“There are no plans to file for bankruptcy,” said a spokesperson for embattled law firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf on May 2. Uh oh. When a company says that, it’s in real trouble. (By May 18, The Wall Street Journal was reporting that the firm was “readying a possible bankruptcy-protection filing for sometime in the next several weeks.”  This time, the firm spokesperson had no comment. The next day, May 19, a blog dealt the ultimate insult by writing, “The ailing law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf is not long for this world. The only real question that remains is how Dewey’s death will take place. Will Dewey be pushed off the cliff, or will it jump?” Ouch. The blog pointed out that the search function on the Dewey website was no longer functional and that management held a meeting and said “that bankruptcy was imminent.”)  

The Wall Street Journal, “Dewey Jobs Endangered,” May 2, 2012

The Wall Street Journal, “Dewey & LeBoeuf Readies Bankruptcy Filing,” May 18, 2012

Above the Law, “Dewey Have plans to file for bankruptcy? Sources say yes,” May 19, 2012

“I don’t believe Ann Romney is either Hitleresque or Stalinesque,” wrote Michelle Goldberg while trying to explain a comment made on a morning talk show where she compared Mrs. Romney’s comments about the “crown of motherhood” to Stalin’s “Motherhood Glory” medals and the Nazi cult of motherhood. (Although her comment erupted through the blogs, Ms. Goldberg is correct; she clearly was not trying to link Mrs. Romney to Hitler or Stalin. Her point was that it is one thing to talk about how great motherhood is, but it would be better if businesses and government were required to provide European-like benefits to mothers. In the discussion that ensued, Ms. Goldberg provided one of the most ungracious apologies on record: “I’m truly sorry to have given the right a pretext for another tedious spasm of feigned outrage. I’m especially sorry if I’ve done anything to strengthen the conservative myth that liberals disdain motherhood.”)

The Daily Beast, “Michelle Goldberg on Ann Romney Hitler Tempest,” May 14, 2012

“We did not make these changes out of desperation,” said Steven Newhouse, the chairman of Advance.net about the company’s decision to offer a print edition of the 175-year-old New Orleans Times-Picayune only three days a week. (Newhouse, part of the family that owns Advance also notes, “We have a strong operation in New Orleans, but we face tremendous challenges in terms of both revenue and the 24 hour news cycle.”  Of course, he’s correct, but it’s desperate times when a paper ceases publication four days a week as well as cuts staff.)

The New York Times, “New Orleans Newspaper Scales Back in Sign of Print Upheaval,” May 25, 2012

“I didn’t make it up,” said Brian McNamee, a former trainer, friend and witness for the prosecution in the perjury trial of baseball great Roger Clemens.  McNamee initially testified that he heard Clemens talking about taking steroid injections. Moments into his testimony, he changed his story, saying he heard Clemens talking about not wanting to take the substances. (This is an excellent example of how we pick up and repeat each other’s words. Clemens’ lawyer, Rusty Hardin, pounded McNamee, and asked, “Mr. McNamee, do you sometimes just make stuff up?”   The judge disallowed the question but McNamee fell right into the trap and responded anyway, “I didn’t make it up.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “Clemens Lawyer Challenges Witness’s Account,” May 17, 2012

“I wouldn’t rape your puppy,” said rock star Ted Nugent, trying to explain a stream of profanities he uttered during a recent CBS interview. Speaking to radio host Mike Broomhead, Nugent blamed the media saying, “The left media and [Democratic National Committee chairwoman] Wasserman Schultz will try to tell you that I threaten the president’s life that I’m a mean, nasty man who wants to rape your puppy.”  (Nugent needs to button his mouth. Last month he told an audience at an NRA convention that if President Obama is re-elected he would be “dead or in jail by this time next year.” That drew a visit from the Secret Service.  We had a hard time deciding if this was a BIMBO comment or a “Wrong Thing to Say” example. It’s probably both. It’s worth noting that these snide, personal comments crowd out comments that make legitimate issue with President Obama’s policies.)

Huffington Post, “Ted Nugent Discusses Profanity-Laced Outburst during CBS Interview,” May 7, 2012

“There is no nationalism or xenophobia,” said Brazilian prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira, as he filed criminal charges against Chevron for a small spill in an offshore oil field, a leak that was quickly capped in four days. (Really? We think the truer comment is from Luis Octavio de Motta Veiga, a former head of the Brazilian equivalent of the SEC who said, “Brazilian politics and business are not easy to understand from the outside.”  The Obama administration should take note. President Obama visited Brazil to encourage them to drill offshore and said that the U.S. would be their customer. Chevron acted responsibly and demonstrated that oil can be safely extracted from deep depths.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Over a Barrel,” May 20, 2012

“We’re not asleep at the wheel here,” said Sandy Barbour, athletic director of the University of California, Berkeley, on the news that the cost of renovating its football stadium skyrocketed to $321 million, and that the promised $270 million from ticket sales stood at only $31 million. He further explained that the additional funds would have to come from the University’s budget. (Here’s another example of the importance of setting and managing expectations for long-term projects and building in an expectation that statistics and facts could change. We know it’s important for managing a crisis, but setting expectations also helps projects from turning into a crisis. This is also an example of how BIMBO comments crowd out other quotes. The article was very balanced and includes information from Ms. Barbour herself, stating that 70 percent of the construction costs were due to safety upgrades; however the “asleep” comment is the only direct quote. We’re sure she would have preferred something else.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Cal’s Football-Stadium Gamble,” April 18, 2012

“I am not a welfare queen,” says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau, a medieval-history Ph.D. and adjunct professor who uses food stamps. (We sympathize with Dr. Bruninga-Matteau, and others featured in this article, but we agree with one of them, Elliott Stegall, who teaches English and is finishing a dissertation in film studies. Unlike others quoted who blame the government, Mr. Stegall says that he made the choice to earn a graduate degree in the humanities. “I had devoted myself to the world of cerebral activity. I had learned a practical skill that was elitist. Perhaps I should have been learning a skill that the economy supports.”  America needs some 600,000 engineers. Master welders in Pennsylvania are making $90,000 to $100,000. We hope Jeff Sanderfer’s ideas about reform start gaining wider recognition.)

The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Ph.D. Now Comes with Food Stamps,” May 6, 2012

“Coal is far from dead,” said Jack Koraleski, CEO of Union Pacific. (The article looked at the sharply declining stock prices of a number of coal companies and the new stringent regulations promulgated by the EPA, but noted that U.S. coal exports rose 57 percent between 2007 and 2011. Again, he could have said, “Coal has become more efficient and mining techniques have improved dramatically. We think there are very bright spots in coal’s future.”)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Coal’s Future Is Rocky at Best,” April 30, 2012

“I’m definitely not a gold-digger,” said Kendra Platt-Lee whose former fiancée is suing her. (Steven Silverstein wasn’t satisfied to just get the engagement ring back. He wants cash for costs he incurred planning the wedding and for half of the rent for apartments they shared. He does not have our sympathy, but Ms. Platt-Lee doesn’t do herself any favors with her quotes: “I did work at Hooters in college to pay my way through school.” What would we say to Mr. Silverstein? Just think what your next girlfriend is going to think …)

Today, “Man sues ex-fiancée after she breaks off engagement,” May 24, 2012

“Sarah’s work as a dancer is lawful and is not a crime. It does not, has not and will not affect her ability to perform her job as a journalist.” (Sometimes it’s hard not to chuckle when the media is on the receiving end of complaints. Sarah Tressler was fired by the Houston Chronicle for working on the side as a stripper. She’s filed an EEOC complaint and hired (who else?) Gloria Allred. And of course, she’s got a blog, “Diary of an Angry Stripper,” soon to be an e-book. We think Tressler wins this one. )

USA Today, “Texas society reporter fired for stripping; sues paper,” May 11, 2012

“Reasons are not chromosomes,” said New York City’s commissioner of Consumer Affairs, Jonathan Mintz. (“Reason” seems to be missing from this. Mr. Mintz stepped up investigations of small businesses that charge more or less to men or women for various services. For example, nail salons charge women $2 more than men because their nails take more time. Some salons charge more for a woman’s haircut than a man’s, again because it takes longer. New York considers this “gender-pricing discrimination.” The article notes that Consumer Affairs is not acting because of consumer complaints.)

The Wall Street Journal, “City Nails sex-based pricing,” May 22, 2012

PROOF READERS STILL NEEDED

“Educaate your children,” was the advice posted in a Sacramento-area teachers union’s flyer. (While we all make mistakes, the union continued to distribute the brochure and the union president told a reporter he was too busy for an interview.)

KOVR, “Teachers Union Flyer Includes Embarrassing Typo,” May 22, 2012

Parents and students received a program at the graduation ceremony of the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of “Pubic Affairs.” (The School did about as well as you can in this type of situation. They quickly tweeted an apology, which didn’t sound self-serving, and they were honest: “Obviously we are mortified. It’s beyond embarrassing. As soon as we realized the mistake, everybody went into overdrive and we went to work to reprint it.”  Proving that members of the media may have a heart after all, a writer from Yahoo! News noted, “No one was killed, no one lost their job…It will probably be remembered with little more than a quick laugh.”)

Yahoo! News, “University of Texas apologizes for ‘pubic affairs’ commencement typo,” May 21, 2012

WRONG THING TO SAY

“We get 18 days off a year. I think we deserve a little time for ourselves,” griped Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett when he was criticized for playing golf after missing a game because of sore muscles. (The self-serving comment animated the gripers on the blogs, and generated a commentary, “The 26 things Pro Athletes Shouldn’t Say.”  The first thing? Never complain about your salary.)

The Wall Street Journal, “The 26 Things Pro Athletes Shouldn’t Say,” May 14, 2012

Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson lasted barely four months and was fired for claiming a degree on his resume that he apparently did not earn. The incident is notable for how Thompson handled it, blaming giant search firm Heidrick & Struggles. The firm responded with an ostensibly internal and forceful memo which was, of course, immediately leaked to the media and public. (Lesson: never blame the search firm that could help you find your next job. Now, Thompson not only looks sloppy, he looks petty and unsophisticated.)

Associated Press, “Resume scandal leads to exit of Yahoo CEO,” May 13, 2012  

“Playful, fun-loving and affectionate” were the words Columbia University journalism professor Todd Gitlin used to describe Occupy Wall Street as the group reconvened with May Day protests. (I don’t know how Professor Gitlin views “playful,” but he should have been at the conference hosted by the Center for American and International Law, where law enforcement officers from all over the country gathered as they planned for summer and fall OWS demonstrations. Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm spoke to the group and described Occupy Dallas’ repeated violations of municipal laws, assaults and a sexual assault on an underage girl, piles of trash and feces. It’s disturbing that Professor Gitlin is a professor of journalism.

Mediate, “Fox & Friends Panel Explodes over Pro-Occupy Wall Street Professor’s Claim: ‘These are playful people,’” May 2, 2012

Men should go home and tell their wives and girlfriends to “Shut up b*tches?”  The tech industry is to be applauded for excluding women? Women are better with rolling pins than technology. These were the comments made by Danish celebrity Mads Christensen while he was moderating a discussion at one of Dell’s global conferences in Copenhagen. (Christensen was invited and paid by Dell. Predictably, a woman in attendance tweeted and blogged, passing on his comments. It generated a global firestorm.  Dell had been told that Christensen was a “well-known comedian and public speaker.” Dell apologized and also handled the situation as well as a company could. A Dell spokesman, David Frink, took reporters’ calls. We thought he struck the appropriate balance, saying they were accepting responsibility but had worked with an outside event organizer and “there is only so much to be said about that.” The other lesson is that an incident like this serves as a magnet to dredge up previous issues, in this case a 2009 advertisement and a legal settlement for a lawsuit filed by two women. That’s why it’s important to be involved in various communities and take reputation management issues seriously.)

The Daily Beast, “Danish Provocateur’s Anti-Women Insults Embarrass Dell,” May 15, 2012

“I was irresponsible in that regard,” said Terrell Owens, finally saying something right. He appeared on the Dr. Phil show with three of the four women with whom he has had children. (Ugh. What a slime ball. But he is certainly right about being irresponsible. He was on the show arguing that he should have his child support payments reduced.)

USA Today, “Terrell Owens gets hammered on Dr. Phil,” May 8, 2012

STATISTICS

“I’d like to say we can guarantee 100 percent security and 100 percent customer satisfaction and it’s just not realistic,” said TSA Administrator John Pistole. (Mr. Pistole is correct, but this doesn’t inspire confidence. In these situations, articulate the goal of 100 percent safety or satisfaction or compliance or whatever it is, and the organization’s commitment to get a little closer each year. Alas, as someone who flies several times a week, with the TSA, that wouldn’t be true. But it’s good advice for other organizations.)

The Wall Street Journal, “TSA, Under Fire, Wants to Upgrade Its Service,” May 23, 2012

TWITTER

“Dinner w/Board tonight. Used to be fun. Now one must be on guard every second,” tweeted Gene Morphis, CFO for Francesca’s Holding Corp., a public company. The next day, he added, “Board meeting. Good numbers=happy board.”  (Morphis used Twitter and his blog, “Morph’s View” to complain about the frustrations of his job. It cost him his job. The lesson from this incident is that companies, particularly public companies, should publish their privacy policies, make them clear and senior executives must lead by example. One challenge is to use Twitter and other social media effectively to reach internal and external audiences, and by definition, that means sharing positive and negative information and candor in reflection. )

The Wall Street Journal, “Facebook and Twitter Postings Cost CFO His Job,” May 14, 2012    


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