Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for May 2023

  • Bimbo
  • April 28, 2023
  • by Spaeth Communications

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This is one of the fullest memos ever! More BIMBO comments from a pastor running for the Republican nomination for president, the head of Russian “child rights,” an AP headline writer on a mass shooter, the White House Press Secretary, one of Trump’s attorneys and South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley (great lesson there). Examples of the Wrong Thing to Say: lots of illustrations of our theory about “bad words,” from a Wayne State professor (truly amazing), our take on the Bud Light marketing disaster, and the CEO of a furniture company (also illustrating the perils of internal Zoom meetings). Questionable comments from SpaceX after the Starship exploded, a senior Ernst & Young executive and poor Don Lemon’s comment about women in their prime just won’t go away. Interesting and potentially useful articles about words that get results, “filler words” in speeches and how and why to express gratitude more frequently.


"I just don't buy the whole argument of chaos," said National Security Spokesman John Kirby in reference to the official report documenting – what else? – the chaos of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Americans saw the heart-breaking pictures of desperate people swarming the airport and clinging to the wheels of moving airplanes taking off. Kirby can claim what he wants but the pictures tell a whole different story. 

Washington Examiner, “White House denies 'chaos' during Afghanistan withdrawal: 'Didn't see it from my perch'," April 6, 2023


“Nothing nefarious” protested Federal Reserve vice chair Christopher Waller about the central bank's upcoming payments system FedNow, which is set to debut in July. We realize the proposed system is unrelated to the debacle of Silicon Valley Bank and the Fed’s precipitous decision to pay one hundred percent of deposits instead of only the $250,000 supposedly insured, but saying “nothing nefarious” doesn’t inspire confidence.  

American Banker, “Fed's Waller: 'Nothing nefarious about FedNow',” April 20, 2023

“I’m not going to burn down any buildings,” tweeted Professor Aaron Hillegass about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ efforts to turn the New College of Florida into the “Hillsdale of the South.” To put this into context, the Hillsdale reference means being a college based on classic liberal course of study (which now, oddly, means it’s considered conservative and the opposite of the New College). Hillegass was outraged. The line about burning buildings was predictably retweeted multiple times and – again predictably, got misquoted. He may have started off with “I’m not going to burn down any buildings. I’m just going to walk away,” or “If I were more patriotic, I’d burn the college’s buildings to the ground.” Whatever the original phrasing, “burn the buildings down” sounds like “bad words” to us and he tweeted a clarification. We’re including this as an example of how “bad words” travel, mutate and dominate a discussion.

The National Desk, “Director bashed for comment about burning Florida college 'to the ground',” April 10, 2023

“I am not in this to just fight wokeism," said Pastor Ryan Binkley of Richardson, Texas. "I am not looking for another job. I am not looking for name recognition.” He said these things at a press conference where he got name recognition and announced his 2024 election bid for the Republican presidential nomination. He continued with, “we better wake up and understand the true problems that we face." We suggest he have more impact by forming a SuperPAC or by enlisting his parishioners as ambassadors. Binkley is the CEO of Generational Group, an investment bank, and the pastor and founder of Create Church in Richardson.

WFAA, “A North Texas pastor and CEO says he's running for president,” April 24, 2023

“I’m honestly not ashamed of this year. I’m not ashamed,” said Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, about the much-criticized initiative bringing children from Ukraine to Russia for adoption by Russian families. Nonprofit groups estimate as many as 16,000 children have been removed from “orphanages” including some facilities housing children to get them away from the hostilities in Eastern Russian-occupied Ukraine. The International Criminal Court investigating war crimes has issued arrest warrants for only two people, Putin and Lvova-Belova. Compounding the impact of her protestation, she continued that “my team worked not 100 percent but 150 percent.” She should be ashamed. 

The New York Times, “The Children’s Rights Advocate Accused of Russian War Crimes,” April 2, 2023

“No ‘incredible rise’ in transgender shooters” was the Associated Press headline as the controversy arose whether to mention that the shooter in Nashville was a transgender individual. Days after the Nashville tragedy where six people were killed, a second individual was found plotting a shooting reportedly also focused on a Christian institution. This is more about the debate about what to cover or what not to mention. A rise of one to two transgender mass shooters is 100 percent increase but starting from a base (a denominator) of only “one”, the result is statistical lying by conservatives. However, not mentioning the shooter’s gender (transgender or otherwise) is the same as declining to identify a criminal as a man or woman.

AP News, “FACT FOCUS: No ‘incredible rise’ in transgender shooters,” March 30, 2023

“Evan Gershkovich is not a spy. He has never been a spy,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in response to a question about whether Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was, as accused by Russia, a spy. The BIMBO comment was damaging enough but she then said, “Evan has never worked for the U.S. government…” which begs the question because many people providing intelligence are not government employees. What she didn’t say but everyone knows, Gershkovich is a political prisoner snatched to give Russia bargaining chips in prisoner exchanges. 

Twitter, Karine Jean-Pierre, April 4, 2023

“There will be no guilty plea,” said Donald Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina about the circus trial in NYC where Trump has been indicted on inflated charges involving paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels. What he should have said – and it looks like there’s still plenty of time– is that they will pursue every legal avenue and are confident that the former president will make a strong argument for exoneration. 

The Hill, “Trump’s attorney says ‘there will be no guilty plea',” April 4, 2023

“We're not bar fighters. We're not thugs. We're not monkeys. We’re not street fighters,” said South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley reacting to criticism that her team played a very physical game. She made the comments following the loss to Iowa in the Final Four. Note the comment made the subhead. This started before the Gamecock’s game against Iowa. Iowa coach Lisa Bluder observed that going up against South Carolina for rebounds was “like a bar fight.” The media picked up that comment and carried it to Staley. This is a powerful lesson about how to handle what we call “quote questions”— where the question is a quote – always critical or negative. The lesson is to begin by saying “I’ve heard that” or “I haven’t heard that” and move to a competitive (and positive) quote, and heaven knows, there were a lot of those Staley could have picked.

Sports Illustrated, “Dawn Staley Addresses ‘Bar Fight’ Play Style Comments After Final Four Loss,” April 1, 2023


“Although I do not advocate violating federal and state criminal codes, I think it is far more admirable to kill a racist, homophobic, or transphobic speaker than it is to shout them down,” wrote Wayne State University professor Steven Shaviro wading into the controversy surrounding the mob of Stanford Law School students who shouted down a federal appellate judge speaking to the local chapter of the Federalist Society. Accuracy in Media responded by sending mobile billboards to the Stanford campus to hold those students accountable. Shaviro took to Facebook to respond, saying that the protesters did not go far enough in a post that began, “So here is what I think about free speech on campus.” Note to parents: send kids anywhere but Stanford. Federal Judges Jim Ho and Elizabeth Branch have announced they will not accept law clerks from Stanford. Will others follow suit? 

American Liberty News, “Professor Suspended After Advocating To Silence Speech With Violence,” April 9, 2023

Bud Light Vice President of Marketing Alissa Heinerscheid got into big trouble. The controversy focused on choosing a transgender woman to appear on a Bud Light can (which was not actually distributed but the recipient predictably made sure it was well publicized) but we view that as a separate issue and decision. Interestingly, it turns out Anheuser Busch has supported other LGBTQ events. This really turns out to be an example of the “Wrong Thing to Say.” Heinerscheid poured gasoline on the debate by calling her main customers “out of touch” and “fratty.” Sales of Anheuser Busch products dropped 30 percent the first week and draft beer sales dropped 50 percent. Heinerscheid has been put on involuntary “leave” as has her boss. Another example of the importance of asking “Who’s the audience?” and doing the “good/bad” word drill before launching a campaign.

The Daily Wire, “The Straight Hate On Bud Light Is Real And These Sales Numbers Show It,” April 11, 2023

“Leave pity city” was how Andi Owen, CEO of furniture company MillerKnoll responded during an employee Zoom meeting. She was discussing how workers should stay motivated if they don’t get a bonus. Owen started out fine, urging employees to “focus on the things you can control” such as providing excellent customer care. Then she delivered the “leave pity city” comment which didn’t go over well, apparently in part because she had not been deprived of a bonus. A clip of the video began circulating this week, sparking a backlash on social media. The story went viral and generated more stories, first on how she apologized and then as an illustration of how Zoom – or video – meetings can be recorded, edited, distributed and shared.  Notice that the offending phrase, “pity city,” made it into each headline – USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. An outside expert quoted in the WSJ article noted that companies are hiring crisis communications experts. We think they should start with our “good word” exercise. It would save them a lot of time, trouble, and money. “Pity city” would have been an obvious contender for the “bad word” column! And why is this such a good (read “bad”) training example? All this publicity and the CEO didn’t get in one good message about the company, its products, or its services. The opening was there at the beginning: she was talking about “providing excellent customer care!” 

USA Today, “'Leave Pity City' CEO reportedly apologizes after comments to employees go viral,” April 19, 2023

SpaceX, Tesla, and Twitter CEO Elon Musk congratulated the SpaceX team after a, shall we say, explosive launch, and said the team "learned a lot" from what SpaceX called a "rapid unscheduled disassembly". They did not elaborate further. And indeed, what more can they say? The thing blew up. 

New York Post, “Elon Musk congratulates SpaceX team on ‘exciting’ launch that ended in Starship’s explosion: ‘Learned a lot’,” April 20, 2023

“We need to do a much better job…in billing every hour we can get our hands on,” said Steve Payne, accounting giant Ernst and Young’s deputy managing principal for the Americas when discussing how the failed strategy to break up the accounting and consulting firm was impacting revenues. We don’t criticize the company’s attempts to capture revenue and we sympathize with the competing perspectives– we lived through a very similar situation with Arthur Andersen and Andersen Consulting. Our first concern is the phrasing of directive is an incentive to overbill, and our second concern is how this internal comment at an internal meeting found its way into a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal. That speaks volumes about plummeting morale and lack of trust in management. The article doesn’t say how Payne delivered the message—via email, Zoom or in-person meeting—but the Journal portrayed it as a direct quote. 

The Wall Street Journal, “EY Confronts Slowing Growth After Breakup Deal Fails,” April 20, 2023

Saying that Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was past a woman’s “prime” is a factor that cost CNN star Don Lemon his job. We include the coverage of his dismissal only to point out that this one phrase and exchange, where he insisted women were at their prime in their 20s and 30s and (grudgingly) maybe their 40s will live forever. Indeed, it’s a subhead in this lengthy New York Times article parsing his dismissal. 

The New York Times, “Don Lemon Ousted From CNN in Move That Left Him ‘Stunned’,” April 24, 2023

“This is to certify that the sweet potatoes packed in this container were grown and packed in Merced County, an area free of Sweet Potato Weevil,” was the note inside a bag, sent to us by a reader, of (of course, sweet potatoes). Meant to reassure us, we now imagine weevils crawling around all the bins of potatoes, sweet and otherwise, at grocery stores. It’s the updated version of the kid’s joke or prank: “Betcha I can’t make you think of an elephant!” 


“Finding the words that get results,” by Jonah Berger, Ph.D. contains material that will be very familiar to our readers and clients. For example, the concept of “hedged speech.” Our advice is more focused. Dr. Berger uses the example of saying something “might work.” We advise against using words like “kinda”, “sorta” and “pretty,” as in “I’m pretty sure.” But it’s worth reading and potentially useful to share with executives who do this habitually. Dr. Berger also writes about the impact of being – or appearing – confident. True and all well and good to say that, but the real key to confidence is rehearsal. Verbalize headlines a few times and delivery will improve.

The Wall Street Journal, “Finding the Words that Get Results,” April 8, 2023

Writing about what she calls “filler pauses,” the ‘uhs’ and ‘ahs’ that so many of us have, author/professor Valerie Fridland gives a scholarly analysis which is not worth reading. In summary, she argues these signal that we’re cogitating (thinking). Our version is that these “covering sounds” as we call them are related to breathing and bad habits. However, thinking through a clear “headline” gets the speaker off to a good start. Speakers with “covering sounds” frequently also have what we call “hedged speech,” noted in the example above, the use of words like “kinda” and “pretty” detract from clear communication. 

The Wall Street Journal, “Our Sounds of Hesitation Are More than Filler,” April 22, 2023

Another quick lesson to learn, particularly of the importance of verbally (or electronically) saying “thank you”, is found in “Why it’s important to show gratitude at work – and what’s the best way to do it?” by Sara Algoe in The Wall Street Journal. 

The Wall Street Journal, “Why It’s Important to Show Gratitude at Work—and What’s the Best Way to Do It,” April 16, 2023


The BIMBO Memo is a reminder not to repeat and deny a negative word because of how the listener hears words. When you repeat and deny a negative word, the listener is likely to overlook the denial and hear the opposite of what the speaker is trying to say. It’s named for the young woman who was caught with a high profile, but alas married man. She held a press conference and announced, “I am not a BIMBO,” thus causing everyone to think she was. 

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