Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for May 2014


  • Bimbo
  • May 5, 2014
  • by Spaeth Communications

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Happy BIMBO de Mayo! This month’s BIMBO nominees come from “The View” co-host Jenny McCarthy, a Louisiana politician, the attorney for Florida State Heisman winner Jameis Winston, a consultant hired to assess Detroit’s debt, Oscar Pistorius’ family, Daily Beast reporter Josh Rogin and the Malaysian transport minister. Examples of the Wrong Thing to Say come from Rutgers’ Athletic Director Julie Hermann, the Portland, Oregon, Water Bureau and TSA Administrator John Pistole. The San Jose Airport provides a perfect example of how to use statistics incorrectly. This month features additional examples from Star Trek’s Kate Mulgrew and a State Department spokesperson with a wagging finger, along with social media examples from housing app Airbnb and some patriotic Colombians.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I am not a racist,” said embattled rancher Cliven Bundy attempting to tamp down the backlash from his comments that African-Americans are too dependent on welfare and might have been better off during slavery. (Bundy made the comment in response to a CNN reporter’s question, “Are you a racist?” We don’t know what’s in Bundy’s heart, but he is an idiot. Has he been living in a hole for the last decade? Any stupid comment is going to be hung around the neck of conservatives as representing the entire group. He’s also desperately uneducated, and we will pay for him to see “12 Years a Slave” or at least read John Podhoretz’s review of the movie in The Weekly Standard. For someone who apparently prides himself on American history, Bundy needs to read more about it.)

NewsMax, “Cliven Bundy: ‘I’m Not a Racist,’” April 25, 2014

BEST ADVICE OF THE MONTH

“This is not far to the left,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., on the publication of her new book, “A Fighting Chance.” “I had to learn not to step on my own tongue, like it or not, I had to change,” the senator commented to The Boston Globe about a controversial 2012 interview in The Daily Beast where she was quoted as taking credit for the Occupy Wall Street movement. (Sen. Warren noted that the quotes were accurate but it was not what she meant. Coming from a party that lost two senate seats in 2012 because of stupid comments from candidates, we recommend the article to everyone across the political spectrum. Oh yes, the philosophy she espouses is very, very far to the left, and we acknowledge that she is a very good ambassador for it.)

USA Today, “Sen. Warren’s candidate attitude fuels her rise,” April 21, 2014

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I didn’t consider myself, quote ‘an informant,’” said Rev. Al Sharpton on the revelation that he had served as an informant for the FBI. (Sharpton tried to spin the story as something he initiated after being threatened by mobsters. It could be true; Sharpton has always excelled at looking out for himself.)

The Raw Story, “Rev. Al Sharpton: I never considered myself an FBI informant,” April 8, 2014

“I am not anti-vaccine,” said Jenny McCarthy, co-host of “The View,” as criticism of her campaign against vaccines skyrocketed, alongside significantly increasing rates of measles, polio and other diseases. (This is a useful article in understanding the difference between education and influence in communication. The writer does an excellent job chronicling how McCarthy certainly espoused the message that vaccines caused autism.)

Salon.com, “No, you haven’t been ‘wrongly branded,’ Jenny McCarthy,” April 4, 2014

“I would like to make it clear that I am not and have never been part of any gang. I am not a gang member,” emphasized Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson on being released by the Eagles. (This is a puzzling situation because Jackson has never been accused of being in a gang, but rather his mistake is continuing friendships with people he has known for most of his life who are more closely linked with unsavory activities. Like others quoted in the article, we wish him well. It’s also another example of why it’s problematic to deny something; it repeats the theme and keeps it alive. Notice the charge migrates to the headline.)

USA Today, “DeSean Jackson denies having gang ties after being cut by Eagles,” March 28, 2014

“I have nothing to hide,” said Dave Peralta, Louisiana St. Bernard Parish president who is currently involved in a messy divorce. He said, “I believe that she staged the entire incident,” regarding an investigation on charges of bondage sex. (Since Mr. Peralta provided photos documenting more than a dozen experiences of bondage sex, it was pre-ordained that this would get attention. Note that the comment made the headline.)

Times-Picayune, “Dave Peralta interview: I didn’t rape my wife, bondage sex was consensual; discusses criminal probe,” March 28, 2014

“We don’t need an investigation, thorough or otherwise, to know that Jameis did not sexually assault this young lady. Jameis has never sexually assaulted anybody,” said David Cornwell, the lawyer for Heisman Trophy-winning Florida State football player Jameis Winston. (This is a disturbing story because the female student followed all the rules and procedures to report an assault in a timely fashion: provide evidence and register a credible allegation. The university and the police, according to the government prosecutor, “just missed all the basic fundamental stuff that you are supposed to do.” Once again – the lesson is that however bad the initial problem is, covering it up and delaying dealing with it only makes it worse, much worse. And Mr. Winston’s lawyer gave his client very bad advice and knows nothing about communication.)

The New York Times, “A Star Player Accused, and a Flawed Rape Investigation,” April 16, 2014

“I’m not going to be bamboozled,” said Martha E.M. Kopacz, a consultant hired by the bankruptcy court in Detroit to assess the city’s plan to reduce its debt. She added for good measure, “No one on my team is going to be bamboozled.” (Kopacz’s quote competed against what her message should have been: “We’re committed to reviewing all the decisions and options. We will be as fair as possible to all parties and focus on a future where Detroit can capitalize on its strengths.”)

The New York Times, “Consultant to Scrutinize Detroit plan,” April 23, 2014

Oscar Pistorius’ family issued a statement denying he took acting lessons prior to the dramatic trial before a South African judge where he cried and vomited on the witness stand. (This is an example of what makes news: a South African columnist made the charge about acting lessons in a well-publicized column, and Pistorius’ family faced the no-win decision about whether to deny it – and create another story – or ignore it. We have faced this decision many times. The Pistorius family apparently missed the opportunity to add their message about his grief and regret and his hope that he can find a purpose for his life going forward.)

NBC News, “Pistorius Denies Taking ‘Acting Lessons’ Before Murder Trial,” April 22, 2014

“We have nothing to hide,” said acting Malaysian transport minister Hisammuddin Hussein, about continuing the search for Flight 370. (This is a classic BIMBO comment. Malaysia is under heavy criticism for the way it handled the tragedy. The negative quote crowds out the more positive message of continuing to search for the missing plane and passengers.)

Reuters, “UPDATE: Australia, Malaysia vow to keep searching to solve plane mystery,” April 23, 2014

“I didn't break any rules or agreements in the reporting of this article," said Daily Beast reporter Josh Rogin who snuck into a Trilateral Commission meeting in Washington, D.C, and secretly recorded Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks. (The secretary’s comments about Israel and potential sanctions for Russia were not terribly surprising, nor should anyone be shocked that a Beast reporter was there unannounced and recording. This is one more reminder that nothing is “off the record.” Although the reporter snuck in uninvited, moderator Ambassador Joseph Nye should have begun by reminding attendees the remarks were “off the record” and by asking any members of the press or guests to identify themselves.)

Politico, “John Kerry’s Private Remarks Allegedly Taped by Daily Beast Reporter,” April 28, 2014

WRONG THING TO SAY – POWER OF BAD WORDS

“They like to paint us as paranoid, bitter people,” said Sen. Marco Rubio while speaking to the NRA convention about the image of supporters of Second Amendment Rights in the media. (Note that the bad words migrate to the headline. This is an example of a comment that probably played well to the immediate audience but sent the wrong message to the broader audience, the American people.)

National Review, “Rubio: ‘They like to paint us as bitter, paranoid people,’” April 25, 2014

“If they’re not writing headlines that are getting our attention, they’re not selling ads – and they die,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Julie Hermann, adding “And that would be great.” (Hermann was talking about the Newark Star-Ledger which was in the middle of layoffs and reorganization. Leaving aside the lack of caring for the people affected, Hermann, who has been the dealing with scandals left and right, was talking to a university journalism class. Not surprisingly, a student recorded the lecture. Any AD needs to have a keen awareness of how to reach key constituencies, including the press. We hope stupidity as a firing offense is built into her contract.)

The Newark Star-Ledger, “Julie Hermann: It would be ‘great’ if The Star-Ledger went out of business,” April 7, 2014

“Our customers don’t anticipate drinking water that’s been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir,” said a spokesman for the Portland, Oregon, Water Bureau after a teenager urinated into the city reservoir. (This is also an example of the power of statistics. Despite the Southwest being bone dry, this Northwestern city decided to dump 38 million gallons of water. The announcement was made after the city’s experts confirmed that the water, which had already been treated and purified, was quite safe. Whatever the merits of the decision to empty the reservoir, the quote crowded out what the message should have been, presumably something like “we are allocating the water in the most environmentally effective manner.”)

Time, “Portland Dumps 38 Million Gallons of Water after Man Pees in Reservoir,” April 17, 2014

“I want passengers, when they think of TSA, to think of something positive instead of patting down 95-year-old grannies or taking teddy bears away from children,” said TSA Administrator John Pistole responding to criticism that the agency’s PreCheck lines, which were supposed reduce wait time, were clogged and impeding check-in. (And alas, his quote ensures that we think of TSA as patting down 95-year-old grannies and snatching teddy bears from children.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Trouble Selling Fliers on the Fast Airport Security Line,” April 11, 2014

STATISTICS

“No security program is 100 percent,” said San Jose Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes after a 16-year-old boy allegedly stowed away on flight to Hawaii by hiding in the wheel well. (Video captured the boy scaling the fence and approaching the plane. While Barnes is correct, this is an example of framing the verbal vision to back-up the message strategy. These are formula responses. The goal is to emphasize safety, not create a picture of expected failure. Barnes could and should have said, “Our goal is always 100 percent safety, and while we may never achieve perfection, we improve every year.” That would have been true and could have created a very different image.)

San Jose Mercury News, “Stowaway: San Jose airport security scrutinized after boy’s flight to Maui in plane’s wheel well,” April 21, 2014

ADDITIONAL EXAMPLES

Someone who should have taken a lesson from Sen. Warren was Star Trek’s Kate Mulgrew who was hired to provide the voiceover for a documentary. Unfortunately, she didn’t read the entire script and the science fiction series star found herself narrating a documentary that argued the Earth is the center of the solar system and the sun revolves around the Earth.

Time, “Star Trek’s Kate Mulgrew Says She Was Duped on Film Narration,” April 8, 2014

Airbnb, the Internet app that allows home and apartment owners to rent out extra bedrooms, is under attack by regulators and traditional lodging interests who have enlisted New York’s attorney general to enforce anti-competitive regulations. (Airbnb’s David Hantman wrote an impassioned defense of the company’s business model. The blog post of a letter sent to Airbnb hosts was terrific except for the accusation that the regulators’ plans were “to call us slumlords and tax cheats. They might even say we all faked the moon landing.”)

Airbnb.com, “Update: Airbnb and the New York Attorney General,” April 20, 2014

Is the South American country “Columbia” or “Colombia?” Don’t know? Most of us don’t. And Colombians are sick and tired of it. A spontaneous “get it right” social media campaign has enlisted scores of Colombians to correct people who misspell the county’s name. While the initiative is impressive, it’s missing an opportunity. Instead of just correcting the spelling, participants should add a short message about what makes Colombia a great place to visit, to invest in or to simply learn about.

The Wall Street Journal, “Colombians Are Tired of People Misspelling their Country’s name as ‘Columbia,’” April 22, 2014

Always remember to rehearse and don’t finger point. When a State Department spokeswoman was asked about an achievement of the Clinton tenure, she couldn’t think of a single thing. When the Associated Press reporter kept pressing her, she shook her finger in his face and lectured him. Message: everything is recorded and could end up on the Internet.

YouTube user goprapidresponse, “State Dept Unable To Name One Accomplishment From a Clinton-Run Initiative,” April 22, 2014



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