Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for November 2013


  • Bimbo
  • November 1, 2013
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image d

Controversy fueled a number of choice comments this month. The chaotic rollout of Obamacare was at the center of much debate and although we picked Secretary Sebelius as the winner, there were quite a few additional comments we just couldn’t pass up sharing with you. We have comments from White House press secretary Jay Carney and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. More BIMBO comments came from the University of Illinois football coach, Grambling State University, an IRS official testifying before Congress, a GoDaddy spokesperson and a college administrator. Despite our admiration for Dr. Ben Carson, we’ve got him in the “Wrong Thing to Say” category this month along with an outrageous email from the Global Golf Post you have to read to believe. Last but certainly not least, we have Twitter lessons from a Philadelphia reporter and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I’m not throwing out the system and starting over,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about the rocky start to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”  (We’re rating this as the winner because so many people believe this is exactly what should be done. Trying to characterize the unworkable system created by the 2,700 page bill with its 20,000 plus pages of regulation isn’t just a matter of “glitches” or something that a “tech surge” can fix– an obvious reference to the successful troop surge in Iraq. See Ross Douthat’s Op Ed in The New York Times, “What if Obama Care Does Work?” for an explanation of why mandating expensive, extensive coverage is highly problematic.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Health Law’s Rocky Debut Puts Sebelius in Cross Hairs,” Oct. 18, 2013 

THE RUNNERS-UP

“The system is not failing,” and “It shouldn’t be about making heads roll or firing people,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, fending off bipartisan criticism of the rollout of healthcare.gov. (Mr. Carney is wrong. In any other sector, the person responsible for a debacle of this magnitude would be fired. Carney claimed the president was focused on “accountability,” but apparently not for the lack of supervision. Secretary Sebelius either wasn’t paying attention to repeated warnings that the site and initiative weren’t ready for primetime or she was listening to political imperatives, which dictated sticking to an unrealistic deadline and requirement to try to sign-up individuals even while businesses got a one-year delay. Note that the BIMBO comment makes it into the headline.)

Washington Examiner, Piers Morgan/CNN, “Carney: Obamacare ‘System is not failing,’” Oct. 21, 2013

“I don’t remember saying that everyone in the country would have a lower premium,” said House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, distancing herself from the array of well-publicized problems associated with launching Obamacare. (The former speaker alas was recorded making the same claim earlier this year. The video was reprised as the Affordable Care Act moved forward with its botched rollout. Note the BIMBO comment makes it into the headline.)

Hot Air, “I don’t remember saying that everyone in the country would have a lower premium,” Sept. 30, 2013

“There’s no morale problem here,” said University of Illinois football coach Tim Beckman after a losing performance against Wisconsin. (A typical sports article highlighting negatives. The problem with this BIMBO is, as usual, it crowds out better quotes such as “We’ve got a long way to go, no question, I don’t think there’s a question in these kids’ minds that we’ve got to take the next step.” And, as so frequently happens, the BIMBO comment migrates to the headline.)

The News-Gazette, “Wisconsin 56, UI 32: ‘There’s no morale problem here,’” Oct. 19, 2013

“It wasn’t a threat,” said Grambling State University Athletics Director Aaron James after the university’s football players organized a boycott and refused to ride the bus to its game against Jackson State. The response was in reference to an email sent to players saying that if they went through with the threat of the boycott, they might face loss of their academic scholarships. University President Frank Pogue added that the players were not in control, “I have never lost control of an institution.” (Of course it was a threat. The administration was furious about the players’ ability to get national attention on the school’s decrepit football facilities. It’s worth noting that the football players only said they weren’t taking the long bus ride – while other schools flew to games – after a tense meeting with Pogue and the unexpected firing of football coach George Ragsdale. As with so many examples, the negative quotes crowded out positive messages. The email was a mistake. They should have expected it would end up in the media and the quote should have been “We have a proud and storied history in football and commit ourselves to building on that legacy and improving current issues.”)

USA Today, “After Grambling player revolt, game at Jackson State cancelled,” Oct. 19, 2013

“IRS official says she never consorted with devil,” read the headline after Sarah Hall Ingram from the IRS testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the division she headed that singled out conservative Tea Party groups to delay their applications for tax exempt status. (We gather this was supposed to be humorous, but it just came across as a version of Christine O’Donnell‘s unfortunate “I am not a witch” BIMBO comment from 2010. Although the media left Ms. Ingram’s comment alone, there has still been no word on what actually motivated the IRS.)

Yahoo News, “IRS official says she never consorted with devil,” Oct. 9, 2013

“I’m not ashamed of our past,” said GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman, announcing that the company’s Super Bowl spots would avoid sex and innuendo. (Not a disaster but an example of inverted speech. She also said, “We need to take this brand to a new level,” which is quite different. Opinion among experts was divided with some feeling that the brand’s sophomoric humor over the past 10 years did an excellent job working to establish the brand’s identity. Spokeswoman Danica Patrick said she was ready for new material and that she “loves what’s going on at GoDaddy.”)

USA Today, “GoDaddy isn’t bringing sexy back to Super Bowl,” Oct. 31, 2013

“I’m not in that crisis mode yet,” said Chris Lydon, vice president of Enrollment Management for Stonehill College in Massachusetts. Lydon was responding to well-publicized problems with the “common application,” a website meant to aggregate and simplify college applications. The website failed multiple times by giving wrong instruction thus resulting in tens of thousands of students’ applications not going through. Lydon added, “I don’t feel we’re at anything close to a permanent solution.”  (Most colleges made the sensible move to roll back application deadlines to give the website time to be fixed and to address students’ concerns. Now, can they convince the Obama Administration to do the same for healthcare.gov?)

USA Today, “Balky website still bugs college applicants,”  Oct. 31, 2013

WRONG THING TO SAY

“You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system,” is the disclaimer you must accept in order to proceed with the application for Obamacare. (Although Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius swore at Congressional hearings that all data submitted via healthcare.gov is secure, this disclaimer does not inspire confidence. The material collected includes all data plus what the applicant tells his/her doctor gathered via electronic records, along with what other companies collect including banks, credit agencies and anything else.)

The Weekly Standard, “Obamacare Website Source Code: ‘No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy,” Oct. 14, 2013

“I have to tell you, Obamacare is, really, I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery and it is slavery in a way,” said retired Johns Hopkins Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson. (Despite our admiration for the doctor, we had to put this under Wrong Thing to Say because of the interference it causes with Dr. Carson’s ability to influence middle-of-the-road voters and African Americans. We’re concerned those groups stop listening when the “dialogue” becomes hyper charged. Dr. Carson’s most powerful argument, particularly as a physician, is that Obamacare dramatically constricts the patient-doctor relationship, thus imposing “one-size-fits-all” criteria on insurance policies  rather than promoting real options and choice. We’d rather have Dr. Carson calling attention to the Mayo Clinic, which has been laying off personnel and reducing its cardiac research. Plus, the slavery line became the headline.)

The Root, “Dr. Ben Carson: Obamacare Worst Thing Since Slavery,” Oct. 11, 2013

Proving that email has not lost out to Twitter (yet) in its ability to cause trouble, a writer at the Global Golf Post sent an email to Texas Golf Association members reading “Drunker than a m**therf***er, walk up into Denny’s, ate a plate of eggs and bacon and then I tipped that b***h in pennies.”  (While it’s not clear who sent out the email, the publisher, Jim Nugent, did send out an apology: “I sincerely apologize to all of you for the vulgar language that appeared in the email that arrived today in the Sept. 30 edition of Global Golf Post. We hold ourselves to the highest standards, not only journalistically but also morally and ethically, and what happened today – accident or not – is not acceptable to me or to anyone on our staff. This was a serious mistake and we have already taken steps to ensure that this will not happen again. The error was ours and is in no way the responsibility of the Texas Golf Association. As publisher, I accept full responsibility for this error and ask that you accept our apology. We value your readership and hope that this mistake doesn’t tarnish your view of the publication.” (It’s not clear if the email was sent on Sept. 30, or if it took three days to respond. Plus, the word “accident” just comes off as strange. Someone stumbled onto a computer keyboard and the message typed itself? The rest of the apology is decent and avoids the annoying mistake of apologizing by stating “If we offended anyone.”)

Global Golf Post Email, “Oct. 2, 2013

TWITTER LESSONS OF THE MONTH

“Thought ‘Breaking Bad’ was hot last Sunday? @FOX29philly See who’s breakin’ bad in SW Philly leavin’ 6 people SHOT – Tonite at Ten!” tweeted reporter Joyce Evans trying to rev up interest for an upcoming report regarding a shooting incident that left one person dead and six wounded. (Reaction was swift and fierce. Complaints about trivializing a fatality and about the juvenile spellings of “breakin” and “leavin” made this a teaching example for everyone.  Lesson: as always, think before you tweet.)

PRNewser, “Philly Reporter Learns Not to Compare Real-Life Murderers to Walter White,” Oct. 7, 2013

After Willie Lynch from Atlanta won $1.2 million in the Georgia lottery, the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) tweeted that he could “get 40 acres and a whole lotta mules.” (The AJC issued an apology that said “The AJC sincerely regrets an earlier Twitter message that contained an inappropriate statement. We took immediate action to apologize via social media and our website and will issue an apology in Thursday morning’s print edition.” We’re not entirely clear why this warranted more than the first sentence.  We think the depiction by the Poynter Institute’s headline is more apt.  Abject apologies should be kept for serious matters.)

Poynter.org, “Atlanta Journal Constitution apologized for weird tweet,” Oct. 3, 2013



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