Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for May 2013


  • Bimbo
  • May 1, 2013
  • by Spaeth Communications

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We have some pretty unusual material this month and only a few true BIMBOs. There are several “Wrong Thing to Say” examples as well as some unbelievable comments from Reese Witherspoon, Rep. Dianna DeGette and the restaurant Hooters. We have a few examples of how Twitter continues to change and define the media landscape. Former Rutgers coach Mike Rice reminds us that everyone is walking around with a cell phone that records video. We also examine a few of the notable missteps from the Boston Marathon bombing coverage. And there are several must read articles: “Investigating Terror in the Age of Twitter” and a Times article on how editorial and advertising have blurred.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“They never exhibited any violent sentiments or behaviors,” said Nichole Mossalem, office manager for the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Mass., where the two brothers accused of planning and carrying out the attack at the Boston Marathon worshipped.  (It must depend on your definition of “violent.” A number of people associated with the two mosques have been investigated, arrested and convicted of plotting various terrorist attacks. Tamerlan Tasarnaev, the 26-year-old brother, is reported to have shouted at a cleric who preached that it was legitimate to celebrate U.S. holidays. Other invited lecturers were seen on video advocating the abolishment of democracy, favoring Islamic rule and calling Christians “filthy” and saying that their lives “hold no value in the state of jihad.”)

USA Today, “Mosque that brothers visited tied to radicals,” April 24, 2013

THE RUNNER-UP

“This isn’t about me,” said President Obama at a rally backing his proposals on gun control. (Of course, it’s all about the President and his focus on the 2014 Congressional elections. Republicans may be opposing the bill proposed by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., but Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recognized he had defectors in his own party. Our hearts go out to the parents of the children killed in the Newtown tragedy. They are understandably motivated by a deep desire to do something. The issue is whether any of the well intentioned proposals will actually create a safer environment. In Chicago, some 500 young people, virtually all African American, are shot to death each year with hand guns, almost all obtained illegally. Attacking Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may provide good sound bites, but it doesn’t enhance the prospect of intercepting illegal weapons, enforcing laws already on the books or spotting and deterring mentally ill people like Adam Lanza in the Newtown shooting or Jared Loughner who shot Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords. Notice that the BIMBO comment made the headline.)

CBS News, “Obama on gun debate: ‘This isn’t about me,’” April 8, 2013

THE WRONG THING TO SAY

“I think there’s a really easy caricature that some people have bought into, of the bitchy woman character and the guy who is sort of calmer,” said Dean Baquet, managing editor of The New York Times about the paper’s executive editor, Jill Abramson. (The quote appears in a long story whose headline says it all. Baquet may be a great editor but he clearly doesn’t know how to influence reporting. He was trying to tamp down rumors of dysfunction at the Times, and he went on to say that the “bitchy woman” was “a little bit of an unfair caricature,” which is hardly a ringing endorsement. We call that “hedged speech.” Phrases like “a little sad,” or “sort of a mistake” need to be cleaned up. It either was an unfair caricature or it wasn’t.)

Politico, “Turbulence at The Times,” April 23, 2013

“A dark skinned individual,” was how CNN reporter John King identified the potential suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing shortly after the tragedy. (This was one of the worst misstatements made by the media in their rush to be first or be perceived as insiders. It was equaled only by the New York Post’s front-page story of two young men with the headline “Bag Boys.” Worth reading is an Op Ed in the Wall Street Journal, “Investigating Terror in the Age of Twitter,” by Michael Chertoff and Dallas Lawrence. The editorial describes how the Boston Police Department and other law enforcement had to rethink traditional ways of communicating with the public in the hours and days after the bombing.)

The Huffington Post, “John King: Boston Bombing Suspect A ‘Dark Skinned Male,’” April, 17, 2013

Rutgers fired men’s basketball coach Mike Rice and then Athletic Director Tim Pernetti after video surfaced showing Rice throwing things at players, screaming, uttering gay slurs and other obscenities. It turned out that the University became aware of Rice’s behavior and the video last fall, but only fined the coach and required counseling. The lesson from this sad chapter is that almost everyone has a cell phone with recording capabilities and videos of behavior like this will find way to a wider audience.

Fox Sports, “Rutgers Fires Rice,” April 3, 2013

Take the pencils away from the lawyers. “Hooters of America believes the lawsuit is without foundation, denies the accusations and has filed a motion that the lawsuit be dismissed.” The statement was distributed in response to a story about a 27-year-old waitress who had brain surgery last summer. Despite support from her manager, corporate executives told her she would have to wear a wig that she said she couldn’t afford. Her hours were reduced and she eventually quit. (This is one of those things that never should have happened. Hooters, which is a big company, should have helped her find a way to purchase a wig, which can be very expensive. They could have set up a system where other Hooters employees and customers could contribute. By viewing her as damaged goods, they set themselves up for this needless lawsuit. During the month, Hooters also announced they were redecorating their restaurants to be more welcoming to female customers and may even change the iconic uniforms. We’re betting that helping and supporting their female employees and enlisting their customers will do more to build loyalty among women customers – and maybe their families.)

Examiner, “Hooters wig lawsuit: Former waitress forced to wear wig post brain surgery,” April 8, 2013

“I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those now, they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high-capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot, and there won’t be any more available,” argued Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.,  pushing for legislation that would prohibit the future sale of ammunition loading devices holding more than 10 bullets. Since Colorado has a ban on magazines holding more than 15 rounds, DeGette believed these weapons would be inoperative after being used. (Rep. DeGette doesn’t know much about guns. High capacity magazines can be reloaded after the ammunition is fired. Her spokesperson made it worse by saying that the Congresswoman had been working on a high capacity assault magazine ban for 15 years and misspoke. If she had been working on, and “deeply involved” in the issue for a decade and a half, how could she confuse “magazines” and “clips?” We’re willing to go along that it was a misstatement but we’re looking for a little reciprocity when her opponents have a slip of the tongue. We’re with state Senator Greg Brophy who labeled her comments as “stunningly stupid.”)

Real Clear Politics, “Diana DeGette Draws Ire of Gun Advocates Who Call Gun Magazine Remarks ‘Stupid,’”
April 3, 2013

“Do you know my name? You’re about to find out who I am,” said actress Reese Witherspoon to a Georgia state trooper while her husband, Jim Toth, was being arrested for drunk driving. (Witherspoon did issue an apology the next day saying, “I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said. It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I’m very sorry for my behavior.” She should have left out the line about it being scary and frightened.)

CNN, “Reese Witherspoon arrested; husband booked on DUI,” April 22, 2013     

 “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a Belieber,” wrote pop star Justin Bieber in the guest book at the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam. His entry triggered a flood of critical comments that charged him with being insensitive. This is another example of something being taken out of context and the Internet fanning misinformation. The museum said it was delighted to have Bieber visit and for the resulting publicity. Even more interesting, apparently Anne Frank collected pictures of the celebrities of her day including movie stars and dancers and hung them on her walls. Surely there’s a very good chance that she would have included the young Canadian singer.

CBS, “Justin Bieber critics rage over pop star’s Anne Frank guestbook note,” April 15, 2013

Newsflash: Chechnya is not the Czech Republic. The Czech ambassador to the U.S. had to issue a statement explaining that geographical fact because there was so much misidentification in social media following the Boston Marathon bombing. (It would be laughable if this weren’t a serious issue, both in the geographic illiteracy of the population and as another demonstration of social media’s lack of fact checking. The ambassador had to write, “The Czech Republic is a Central European country. Chechnya is a part of the Russian Federation…the Czech Republic is an active and reliable partner of the United States in the fight against terrorism.”)

Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C., “Statement of the Ambassador of the Czech Republic on the Boston terrorist attack,” April 19, 2013

TWITTER

Among the truly appalling coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing was a screen shot of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev with the cut line identifying the picture as actress Zooey Deschanel.  The misidentification appeared while a news anchor read a story about the suspect. While Tsarnaev’s name is admittedly difficult for Americans to pronounce and spell, it’s hard to conceive confusing it with Deschanel’s. One of the producers for “The Bill Press Show” was one of the first to spot the error and tweet it. There were over 4,000 retweets.. (We applaud Ms. Deschanel’s reaction. Rather than a paroxysm of rage, she simply tweeted, “Whoa! Epic closed captioning FAIL!”)          

People, “Zooey Deschanel Misidentified as Boston Marathon Bombing Suspect in Closed Captioning Error,” April 22, 2013

“Kordell divorcing Porsha,” tweeted NFL player Kordell Stewart. The only thing was he didn’t inform his wife, Porsha (of “Real Housewives of Atlanta” fame), who read it on Twitter. (This is terrible behavior, even for an NFL player. Shame on Kordell.)

UPI, “Porsha Stewart first heard about her divorce on Twitter,” April 23, 2013

Those of us who were in awe of Oreo’s quick reaction during the Super Bowl blackout (“It’s okay to dunk in the dark”) chuckled at Kit Kat’s tweet tweaking Oreo and challenging them to a game of Tic-Tac-Toe ostensibly for the affection of a fan. Oreo responded with a Tic-Tac-Toe game of its own, using a half bitten Kit Kat bar as a symbol.  (Kudos to both brands. They were nimble, funny and the messages aligned with the brand attributes of chocolate, youth and spontaneity.)

Digiday, “Kit Kat, Oreo do Real-Time Twitter Banter,” March 22, 2013

TREND

The secret is out. Print media are allowing non-journalists to write and buy editorial space without labeling it “advertising.” The New York Times had a lengthy article revealing the worst kept secret for years, noting “content that looks like traditional editorial content has become increasingly common as publishers try to create more sources of revenue.” Some of these articles are written by experts, some by news publication staff. Some, like New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan, are horrified. “Your average reader isn’t interested in that. They don’t realize they are being fed corporate propaganda.” Given that one of the articles cited by the Times was about the Hubble Space Telescope, we’d say that’s mighty highbrow “corporate propaganda.” Of course, we all know that what publications like the Times and New Republic offer is “all the news that’s fit to print,” as decided by the completely unbiased and all-knowing editors and writers of those publications who never get anything wrong and who correct mistakes immediately. The article is worth reading and documents an important trend that organizations need to be aware of and participate in.

The New York Times, “Sponsors Now Pay for Online Articles, Not Just Ads,” April 7, 2013


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