Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for March 2011


  • Bimbo
  • March 1, 2011
  • by Spaeth Communications

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We had a lot of submissions this month! There were BIMBOs from a Wall Street bigwig, a Turkish doctor, Tina Fey, FTD’s president and several lawyers.  We have examples of how “bad words” can cause problems from our own Emily Turner, Morley Safer and the republic of Georgia. There are also “wrong thing to say” examples from August Busch IV, members of Common Cause, Nir Rosen, Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder, Marion Barry, Kenneth Cole, and a Pennsylvania teacher. Yes, Charlie Sheen is included because of the sheer volume of his comments. We have examples of how emails and social media are very, very public from Democrat Congressman David Wu and Republican Chris “no shirt” Lee, although Wu manages to keep his job while Lee does not. A Dallas policewoman brags on Facebook, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood uses weasel words, and there’s a good example from an Alabama superintendent.

It’s also been a big month at Spaeth. Merrie was appointed to The Institute of Medicine's Standing Committee on Health Threats Resilience, which is part of Homeland Security's mission to assess our nation's readiness for national emergencies. 

In celebration of Merrie’s former boss, President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, she wrote an editorial for the Dallas Morning News titled, “The Lighter Lessons of Reagan.” Her article, “Towards a Global Model for Communication” was published by USC’s Public Diplomacy Magazine.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal that perhaps others would want to call him,” said Sarah Palin about former Senator Rick Santorum. (Santorum had wondered aloud whether the former Alaska governor was missing the Conservative Political Action Committee in D.C. because she is “the mother to all these kids,” a widely circulated but out of context comment. His entire statement was, “I have a feeling she has some demands on her time, and a lot of them have financial benefit attached to them…so I’m sure she’s doing what’s best for her and her family.”  In addition to the BIMBO comment, it’s a reminder to never accept what we call a “quote” question because it is, by definition, incomplete. Remember, the two acknowledgment phrases to respond to this type of question are “I’ve heard that” or “I haven’t heard that,” and you’ll be safe.)

The Sean Hannity Show, Feb. 9, 2011

Talkingpointsmemo.com, “Palin: I Won’t call Santorum a ‘Knuckle-dragging Neanderthal’— His Wife Can Do That,” Feb. 10, 2011

THE RUNNERS-UP

“We don’t want to be whining federal employees,” said Terrence Johns, a New Orleans union member while participating in a conference on how to protect teachers’ wages, benefits, jobs and work rules obtained by collective bargaining. (Interestingly, the conference covered how to use Twitter and other social media. The group also opposed President Obama’s call to freeze pay for federal civilian employees. My political proclivities are well-known, so it won’t come as a surprise I think these guys are on the wrong side of the message. It’s notable that Randi Weingarten, head of the powerful teachers union, is saying publicly it’s time to rethink tenure.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Public-Worker Unions Steel for Budget Fights,” Feb. 14, 2011

“Doritos are not bad for you,” said PepsiCo’s CEO, Indra Nooyi, claiming the addictive chips are “nothing more than corn mashed up, fried up in oil and flavored in the most delectable way.” (Since we’re big crunchers, we don’t exactly have the high moral ground, but it’s worth pointing out Ms. Nooyi did note everything is OK in moderation, but the BIMBO phraseology drove the story and became the headline. The claim drove the reporter who wrote the story to add there are 1,350 calories in a bag of Doritos, 630 from fat.)

Takepart.com, “PepsiCo’s Crunchy Company Line: ‘Doritos Are Not Bad for You,’” Feb. 2, 2011

“The crisis was not caused by Wall Street fat cats,” said negotiator Steve Eckhaus, when asked about rising compensation and bonuses for his clients. (We think pay packages are sometimes out of line, but we recognize government intervention only makes things worse. However, Mr. Eckhaus strains his credibility when he adds his clients are “pure as the driven snow.”  Given the amount of self-dealing and back scratching, we think financial district snow has had more than a few dogs walking on it.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Wall Street Lawyer: Don’t Blame Pay,” Feb. 5, 2011

“Up to now, I didn’t kill anybody. I didn’t harm anybody counting donors and recipients,” said Dr. Yusuf Sonmez, an internationally known transplant surgeon allegedly implicated in a huge, black market for human organs. (This was a chilling article, but Dr. Sonmez is every reporter’s dream: everything that comes out of his mouth convicts him, such as “There are two Yusufs: one my family and friends know, and the one created in the press who is a monster.”  The allegations involve paying very poor people for organs which are then sold to the very rich.)

The New York Times, “Investigations of Trafficking Put Surgeon In Spotlight,” Feb. 11, 2011

I am not a “crazy working mother witch,” says Tina Fey. (Celebrities probably shouldn’t be allowed to speak spontaneously. Ms. Fey was talking about the challenges involved in being a working mom, but she crossed the line by comparing the political correctness of talking about how women shortchange their children as more dangerous than “drawing a cartoon of Allah French-kissing Uncle Sam.”  Note the BIMBO made the headline.)

UsMagazine, “Tina Fey: I’m Not a ‘Crazy Working Mother Witch,’” Feb. 17, 2011

“At no time did we inflate any prices,” said FTD president Rob Apatoff, responding to complaints from Groupon customers who bought a deal for $40 worth of flowers for $20 and found the flowers were marked up and available for less on FTD’s own site. (While hardly a major crisis, negative reports like this can cause consumers to wonder if they’re really getting a deal. Apatoff went on to say, “Because there was some confusion with a few, we decided to step up and do the right thing to make sure everybody was happy.”  We’ll bet the reporter asked, “Did you inflate the prices?” and he spit it back. He competed with his own quote.)

The Associated Press, “Groupon, FTD offer refunds in response to complaints about flower deal,” Feb. 13, 2011

“She’s not out there lighting houses on fire…she didn’t try and swindle the Red Cross out of any money,” said Jeff Boncek, attorney for Juanita Broadus, who is charged with starting a series of fires in order to obtain cash and aid from the Red Cross. (Some attorneys just shouldn’t talk to the media…)

The Dallas Morning News, “Terror of fires still haunts residents,” Feb. 21, 2011

BAD WORDS

Our Vice President, Emily Turner, took her five-year-old son to the dentist and reported the take-home literature noted, “In discussing dentistry, please do not use the words ‘needle,’ ‘shot,’ ‘pull,’ ‘hurt’ or any other words which might have an unpleasant meaning.” (We’re all pleasantly surprised to learn this dentist is well-versed in the power of words.)

“In the rare instance where bedbugs are detected…” said Marriott spokesman Mark Indre after someone posted a comment on the Bedbug Registry about discovering a bedbug in her suitcase after staying at a Marriott. (This is an example where a thoughtful response was delivered, but the word “bedbug” is such a bad word it’s hard to hear anything else.)

Politico.com, “But are they conservative bedbugs?” Feb. 10, 2011

“Whining and self pitying,” was how Morley Safer, longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent, described Dr. Catherine Stimpson, a prominent fellow female member of Manhattan’s exclusive Century Association in an email. The emails exchanged among club members were about whether to sever ties with the Garrick, an all-male club in London. Mr. Safer went on to pronounce, in an email of course, Dr. Stimpson as being “humorless and vindictive.”  (This is another example of how emails quickly go beyond initial audiences. Although the Club strictly prohibits members from talking to the media, Mr. Safer’s emails were gleefully circulated and made public. He also said admitting women on the same basis as men at the Garrick would lead to admitting “nudists and transsexuals.”)

NYTimes.com, “Morley Safer ruffles feathers at Century Club,” Feb. 15, 2011

“Corruption” was used in full-page ads by the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. (The point of the ad was to convince businesses to invest in Georgia, but – like the bedbug example – words like “corruption” and “bribes” are highly memorable. We question whether the statistics were persuasive. “Only three percent of Georgians who had contact with various public services reported paying a bribe in the past 12 months.” Later in the ad, the language says, “Only O.4 percent of the population of Georgia has paid a bribe.” Our concern? That all people will remember about the country is “corruption” and “bribes.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “Georgia: The World’s number 1 in fighting corruption,” Feb. 7, 2011

WRONG THING TO SAY

“I’m this notorious bachelor who always wanted someone on the side,” said August Busch IV about criticism when his female companion was found dead. (This also shows how comments live on. This comment was made to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and he was trying to say that although he had this reputation in the past, it wasn’t the case with this young woman.)

The New York Times, “After Leaving Limelight, A Death Rekindles Ire,” Feb. 11, 2011

“Put him back in the fields…he’s a scumbag,” said a Common Cause member about Justice Clarence Thomas, and another member suggested “torture” would be appropriate. Additional members said Justice Alito should “go back to Sicily,” and Roger Ailes “should be strung up…kill the bastard.”   (This is an instructive example. Common Cause promotes itself as a nonpartisan organization, but the comments against the conservative justices caught on video back up criticisms that it has become an arm of the Democratic Party. The ferocity and vituperative nature of the comments, completely ignored by the media, also back up the double standard of the media. As The Wall Street Journal noted in its report on the meeting, “A caveat is in order,” the video was shot by someone who contributes to Andrew Brietbart’s Biggovernment.com, and the videographer clearly presented himself as a fellow member of Common Cause, encouraging members to think he shared their views.)

The Wall Street Journal, “‘String him up,’” Feb. 2, 2011

“Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. Where was her buddy McCrystal…Yes, yes it’s wrong what happened to her. Of course. I don’t support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too…Look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women, which is still wrong, but if it was worse, than I’m sorry.”  (Writer Nir Rosen reacted to CBS’s report that correspondent Lara Logan, who was reporting from Egypt, had been beaten and sexually assaulted by sending the above Tweets. Within minutes, there was an avalanche of criticism. He still didn’t get it and Tweeted, “I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she will get.” He was the one who got the attention, and finally sobered up, apologized profusely and said, “I brought shame upon myself and my family and added insult to Ms. Logan’s injury.”  His apology and comments were quick and well-done. The real lesson and the words we hope to put on a Post-it note for everyone’s computer and phone: “Twitter is not exactly private.”)

Politicsdaily.com, “How Could Nir Rosen Not Have Known His Lara Logan Tweets Crossed the Line?” Feb. 17, 2011

Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, needs someone around him with a personality as strong as his, someone who can say, “Don’t do it.” Snyder was peeved at persistent criticism from the Washington City Paper, and wrote to the company, threatening to sue them and pointing out he could litigate them out of business. Predictably, they published his letter which triggered an outpouring of support for the paper and even more criticism of Snyder. It also increased the readership of the articles that angered Snyder in the first place.

NBCWashington.com, “Dan Snyder Sues Washington City Paper,” Feb. 4, 2011    

“We deserve more, quite frankly…I think we are really underpaid,” said former Mayor, convicted drug user and Washington, D.C. council member Marion Barry about a Pew Research Center study comparing salaries in various cities. Salaries in Washington are the second highest, at just over $125,000 with the chairman pulling in $190,000. Council members work part time and are allowed to hold other jobs and receive other income. (If only they could be paid based on their performance.)

The Washington Post, “DC Council salaries are second-highest among big U.S. cities,” Feb. 2, 2011

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online,” was a Tweet sent out by Kenneth Cole at the start of the protests in Egypt. (One blogger termed this “Dumb and dumber.”  The company later apologized. Repeat after me: “Twitter is not exactly private.” This is actually worse than Rosen’s comments, offensive as they were, because he was blurting out unthinking comments to followers. Kenneth Cole did this as a proactive marketing ploy.)

LAobserved.com, “Dumb and dumber (cont’d.),” Feb. 3, 2011

After blogging that her students are “noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy LOAFERS,” Pennsylvania teacher Natalie Monroe garnered national attention reagrding her blog where she details what she thinks are wrong with students today. (While our sympathies are entirely with Ms. Monroe, there are right ways to say it and wrong ways. Her blog was also laced with swear words and with nasty personal comments she wished she could put on student evaluations, things like, “I hear the trash company is hiring,”  and “I called out sick a couple of days ago just to avoid your son.” Those kinds of comments undercut the seriousness of her legitimate concerns about the lack of preparation of students and parents’ unwillingness to discipline or hold kids accountable. Her attorney noted she blogs 85 times a day and only 15 to 20 posts involve her position as a teacher. This begs the question – how busy can she be if she blogs 85 times during a school day? Plus, it’s predictable that the most sensational rants will get passed around. Note all the words causing trouble are what we call “bad words.”)

The Associated Press, “Teacher strikes nerve with ‘lazy whiners’ blog,” Feb. 16, 2011

What can we say about actor Charlie Sheen’s most recent rants and raves? We could have a whole memo featuring Mr. Sheen himself. From his call to the Dan Patrick radio show, that he can handle crack “socially,” to his comments on ABC and other media that he was “bangin’ 7-gram rocks and finishing them,” and comparing Alcoholics Anonymous to “a bootleg cult.”  He then took off after the creator of the hit show for which he is the highest paid TV actor, saying “These turds, these losers, there's no reason to then bring them back into the fold because I have real fame, they have nothing.”  (Charlie will learn sooner rather than later what famous actress Helen Hayes said, “There’s fame and there’s achievement, and what matters is achievement.” He has fame for all the wrong reasons.)

MSN.com, “Sheen slams CBS execs, said his crack use is ‘social,’” Feb. 14, 2011

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE YOUR UNDOING

Congressman David Wu, D-Ore., blamed prescription drug use for sending pictures of himself wearing a tiger costume to staff. He also sent “disturbing” emails written as his adolescent children. Although press coverage quoted staff members as begging him to get help for mental health problems, the seven-term Congressman was re-elected and insisted, “I emphatically can do the job.” (Isn’t the term “yellow dog Democrat” derived from the claim that some voters would even vote for a yellow dog if he were a Democrat? Please note, we include a Republican in the hall of shame below, but surely his constituents deserve better.)

The Associated Press, “Oregon congressman says he took painkiller,” Feb. 23, 2011

And another member of Congress, Chris Lee, R-N.Y., resigned after the gossip web site, Gawker, reported he emailed a picture of himself without a shirt to a woman he met through Craigslist, claiming to be a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist. Lee, 46, is married. (The “dumb and dumber” category has a lot of competition. Lee emailed the woman from a Gmail account that was linked to his personal Facebook page. The full exchange of emails between Lee and the woman were published. When he was found out, he lied, and then tried to say his account had been hacked. When the affair blew up, Lee resigned. A communication and media studies professor at Fordham, Paul Levinson, told the press this should have been between the Congressman and his wife, “We are living in an increasingly puritanical society.” We disagree with Mr. Levinson. Aside from apparently being willing to cheat on his wife, Lee’s entire character becomes the issue. He talked conservative but behaved outrageously, so he’s a hypocrite. He lied repeatedly. And, he was incredibly stupid.)

USA Today, “GOP Rep. Chris Lee resigns over shirtless photo on web,” Feb. 9, 2011

Also caught on Facebook was Dallas Policewoman, Senior Cpl. Cat Lafitte, bragging she got into a fight with a hospital worker, broke his glasses and cut his face. She also trashed her own management. (What happened to common sense? We give our police officers significant power. We expect responsible behavior. Like Rep. Lee, this woman was also stupid.)

Dallasnews.com, “This just in: Your Facebook page is not private,” Feb. 18, 2011

TRYING TO AVOID THE TRUTH

What are “pedal misapplications?”  That’s what Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood kept saying so he wouldn’t have to use the words, “driver error,” as he tried to wiggle and explain the results of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s finding that the mysterious and spontaneous acceleration of Toyotas was caused by drivers who mistook the accelerator for the brake. (What’s the problem with this? We need drivers to be more alert. Calling something what it is – “driver error” – alerts drivers that they’re responsible and need to pay attention. Calling it “pedal misapplications” encourages people to think it’s not their fault.)

The Wall Street Journal, “‘Pedal Misapplications,’” Feb. 10, 2011

GOOD EXAMPLE

Mountain Brook, Ala., School Superintendent, Dicky Barlow commented about a lawsuit filed against the district claiming the district would not let the litigant’s children register for school. Apparently, the woman has filed similar lawsuits against 17 other school districts. Mr. Barlow said, “Certainly, it is the desire of the Mountain Brook Schools to treat all people with dignity and respect…I can assure you we met this expectation and more.” (Good comment from Mr. Barlow and a high five to smart lawyers who made sure the reporter got the facts in a timely fashion so the article, instead of being sympathetic to the mother of the allegedly homeless children, made it clear the school district was acting responsibly.)

The Birmingham News, “‘Traveling’ woman sues Mountain Brook schools,” Jan. 26, 2011


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