Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for October 2009


  • Bimbo
  • October 1, 2009
  • by Spaeth Communications

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We almost renamed this month’s “Wrong Thing to Say” category “Wrong Thing to Do” following a trifecta of outbursts by Joe Wilson, Serena Williams and Kanye West.  We did assign a new name to Twitter blunders, which will now be referred to as “bleets.”  Read about bleets that plagued ABC News and two National Football League players. Also, former Gov. Blogojevich, the head of South Africa’s track and field, a California legislator caught bragging about sex, the head of an anti-vaccine group, ACORN, a sports columnist, Jon Gosselin (now depressingly predictable), a White House spokesperson and a shocking anti-Jewish comment from former Congressman James Traficant.

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THE WINNING BLUNDERS

A trifecta of outbursts that gave new meaning to the term “shout-out.”

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., made the outburst, “You lie!” during President Obama’s speech on health care to Congress. (While Wilson has been lauded by frustrated conservatives, here’s why I think this is the worst example of the month: Wilson’s outburst crowded out the Republican message designed to show the American people they did have a health care plan. When the president chastised the opposition saying, “Where’s their plan? They haven’t got one,” members should have pulled copies of their blocked proposals and waived them. Next, if Wilson’s outburst was out of line, which it was, what about Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s “profanity laced tirade”  to Reps. Blunt, R-Mo., McCarthy, R-Calif., and Ryan, R-Wis. I didn’t see any reporting by the main stream media on that? The president came out best, graciously accepting Wilson’s apology, but the White House later quietly issued language recommending that proof of identity be required to receive health care, an implicit recognition that Wilson’s contention about provision of services to immigrants here illegally had some basis. Finally, if there weren’t enough communication bungles, the Democrats publicly demanded Wilson apologize – again – on the floor of the House, with Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., insisting, “This is not a partisan stunt.”  The best advice came from Ryan, who counseled his Republican colleagues, “That is a danger, that we are seen as shrill and angry.”

The Wall Street Journal, “’You Lie!’ Jars Washington But Resonates Back Home,” Sept. 11, 2009

The Associated Press, “House votes to rebuke Rep. Wilson,” Sept. 15, 2009

After throwing a tantrum at a line judge at the U.S. Open, including threatening to shove a tennis ball down the judge’s throat, Serena Williams issued a pathetic statement, which was followed by the inexplicable silence of tennis authorities. Our criticism is for her completely unacceptable comments the next day, issuing a statement that will stand as a case study for how not to handle a bad situation: “Now that I have had time to gain my composure, I can see that while I don’t agree with the unfair line call, in the heat of battle I let my passion and emotion get the better of me, and as a result handled the situation poorly. I would like to thank my fans and supporters for understanding that I am human, and I look forward to continuing the journey, professionally and personally, with you all as I move forward and grow from this experience.”  Then she said she was, “Moving on.” An apology never surfaced. Where is the USTA? Are they going to let her get away with this?

USA Today, “Serena fined for outburst,” Sept. 14, 2009

The New York Times, “Tantrum Taints Williams, But Not at Clijster’s Expense,” Sept. 14, 2009

The New York Times, “Serena Williams Fined $10,500 for Penalties During Semifinal,” Sept. 14, 2009

Kanye West’s alcohol-fueled interruption at the MTV Video Music Awards was obviously the “Wrong Thing to Say” and do. Taylor Swift was gracious and even gave a play-by-play of her thought process when she was on stage receiving her award, "My overall thought process went something like, 'Wow, I can't believe I won. This is awesome. Don't trip and fall. I'm going to get to thank the fans, this is so cool ... Oh, Kanye West is here! Cool haircut! What are you doing there? And then, ouch. And then, I guess I'm not going to thank the fans.' "(Celebrities in attendance immediately began tweeting about the incident and Beyoncè Knowles (the unwilling subject of Kanye’s rant) gave Taylor a chance to thank her fans during what should have been Beyoncè’s acceptance speech.  At least some people still have class.)

Amidst the fallout, we point out President Obama’s characterization of West as a “jackass,” which is certainly a “bad word.” This is a lesson in how words travel: ABC reporter Terry Moran passed on the comment via Twitter as the president was preparing for another interview. When the word went viral, everyone insisted this had been said “off-the-record.” ABC then apologized to the White House and CNBC. (Presidents should know that nothing, particularly something inflammatory such as the word ‘jackass,’ is ever ‘off-the-record,’ and never in my experience have I seen a major network groveling in apology like this. The electronic version of the word is now with us forever.)

Politico.com, “ABC’s Moran removes tweet with Obama’s swipe at Kanye,” Sept. 14, 2009

People.com, “Taylor Swift Wins Best Female Video – Upsetting Kanye West,” Sept. 13, 2009

The Los Angeles Times, “Several ABC News staffers jumped the gun in Tweeting Obama’s ‘jackass’ remark,” Sept. 15, 2009

The New York Times, “The Taylor Swift-Kanye West Spectacle Stoked on Several Screens,” Sept. 16, 2009

BIMBO RUNNERS-UP

“I’m the anti-Nixon here. This is the anti-Watergate scandal. I’m not trying to hide anything,” said former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich during an interview following the release of his new book. (This guy is setting new standards for feeling no remorse or shame. The book is useful for its look into Illinois politics, since our president and much of his staff hale from the same political system. Blagojevich said his conversations about trading an appointment were “a routine political deal.”)

USA Today, “Blagojevich book offers his side: Former Illinois governor says he’s not perfect but he’s not guilty of corruption,” Sept. 8, 2009

“I can no longer stand before you and say that I am not aware of gender tests conducted on Caster Semenya,” said Leonard Chuene, head of Athletics South Africa after admitting that he had lied to the world, calling it an “error of judgment.”  (Semenya is a runner whose gender was in question after setting world records this summer. Chuene had insisted that there were no tests to determine her actual gender. Our quarrel isn’t with the runner, but with Chuene who also said, “Tell me someone who has not lied to protect a child.”  This is relativism at its worst. It’s OK to lie as long as your intentions are good, or it’s for “the children.”  The silence from organized track and field is deafening and sends a very bad message.)

The Associated Press, “Track chief sorry for lying about Semenya test,” Sept. 19, 2009

“There was no conspiracy, no cover-up, no double dealing, no deal on oil,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown after a storm of protest over the Scottish government’s decision to release convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi on grounds of “compassion.”(This is not credible because negotiations and trade agreements dating to 2007 included putting al-Megrahi back into the pool a possible prisoner exchange and a suspiciously timed oil deal between Libya and the United Kingdom. Notice that the denial “no deal” makes it into the headline. )

The Associated Press, “Brown: ‘No deal’ made in release,’ Sept. 3, 2009

The Washington Post National Weekly, “Lockerbie Relives Its Horror,” Sept. 14-20 2009

“I want to make it clear that my decision to resign is in no way an admission that I had an affair or affairs,”  said California legislator Mike Duvall after an open microphone picked up his boasts about having sex with two women lobbyists.(This is another reminder that microphones are always potentially on. This guy needed to be chased out. His comments, “I’ve been getting into spanking her…” are truly disgusting.)

Reuters, “California lawmaker admits sex talk, not affair,” Sept. 10, 2009

 “There is no national security threat here. This is not polio. This is not smallpox,” said Barbara Loe Fisher of an anti-vaccination group that is urging parents not to have their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu. (This is a classic example of introducing negative words into the discussion so people hear only “polio” and “smallpox.”)

The Washington Post National Weekly, “Prepare to Roll Up Your Sleeve,” Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2009

“This isn’t a radical plan,” said President Obama on one of the Sunday morning talk shows. (We beg to differ. One can be for it or against it, but in scope, expense and change of philosophy, it’s about as “radical” as legislation can get. Again, notice that the “not radical” makes it into the headline.)

Politico, “Obama: Health plan ‘not radical’” Sept. 20, 2009

 “Just to be clear, ACORN is not in the prostitution business,” said ACORN office supervisor, Christina Spach after shocking videos show ACORN employees displaying no concern to young investigative journalists posing as a pimp and a prostitute looking for help to set up a brothel for underage, illegal immigrant girls.  (ACRORN repeatedly stated that this was all cooked up as a right wing conspiracy, and that it was only a few “bad apples who have since been fired.”  There was also a complete lack of attention and support from the main stream media whose lack of curiosity about the scope of ACORN’s misdeeds should be a journalism case study. Jon Stewart of the Daily Report said it best when he chastised the media for willful obliviousness, saying, “I’m only a fake journalist, and I’m embarrassed.”  The Associated Press story is noteworthy because the writer sniffs that the media ignores news that makes liberal causes look bad. The Sun called the pair “conservative journalists” but has never referred to those promoting Democrats as “liberal journalists.”)

The Sun, “Conservative journalists post ‘sting’ at ACORN’s San Bernardino office,” Sept. 15, 2009  

“I vehemently believe I wasn’t insensitive about the fact that she was kidnapped,” wrote Orange County Register sports writer Mark Whicker about Jaycee Dugard, a woman who was kidnapped at age 11 and escaped this month after 18 years of imprisonment. Whicker’s column lamented all the sports highlights Dugard missed and wrote, “Now, that’s deprivation.” (Even worse, Whicker never apologized, but he and his editors sent out an e-mail saying they had decided not to comment further on the matter. I guess, like Serena Williams, they’re ‘moving on’.)

The New York Times, “Outrage Over Column on California Kidnapping,” Sept. 14, 2009

“I’m not saying TLC is exploiting my children. But I do believe the media and tabloids covering my family and the show for their own financial gain are the ones exploiting them,” said the now-too-familiar Jon Gosselin whining about the coverage he brought on his family. (Note that the word ‘exploiting’ is also the headline.)

E! Online, “Jon Gosselin Talks to Good Morning America, Says the Media (not TLC) Is “Exploiting” His Plus Eight,” Aug. 30, 2009

The White House said, “No one has asked the governor not to run,”  despite reports of a meeting between Political Affairs Director Patrick Gaspard and New York Gov. David Patterson as well as a flood of leaks from leading New York Democrats that Patterson couldn’t beat a strong Republican candidate.(We expect President Jimmy Carter to weigh in to note that Patterson is being pressured not to run because he is African-American.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Patterson will Run – Despite White House Concerns,” Sept. 12, 2009

LAWYER BIMBO OF THE MONTH

“It was like any other Bible study around town. It was a bunch of guys having spaghetti and meatballs, talking about philosophy. It wasn’t a bunch of Jim Jones people meeting or drinking Kool-Aid or plotting things. No cult, no nothing,” said attorney Michael Clayman about a group that met regularly to discuss religious topics after it was discovered that Scott Roeder, accused of killing abortion physician George Tiller, was a member. (Please give this guy a copy of Dan Brown’s new book, The Lost Symbol, and tell him to shut up. Clayman went on to add that they were only studying the Bible, “We didn’t sit around and have sacrifices in the back yard.” Other members explained they talked about secret societies controlling government and that Roeder was being framed.)

The Wichita Eagle, “Bible group scrutinized in Tiller killing,” Aug. 31, 2009

WRONG THING TO SAY

“Not everyone is a perfect person in the world. Everyone kills people, steals from you, steals from me,”  explained Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor when asked why he was wearing Michael Vick’s name on his face, adding “I have always looked up to Mike Vick.”  (We hope this young man’s coach has a chat with him. First, despite his background, not everyone does steal and kill. Second, one can believe Vick deserves a second chance, but certainly does not deserve to be “looked up to.” Perhaps he hasn’t read the police reports and court charges about the despicable cruelty Vick and his gang put the dogs through.)

The New York Times, “One Week’s Worth of Lessons, Surprising and Otherwise,” Sept. 7, 2009

Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Greta Van Susteren interviewed former Congressman James Traficant, who alleged that Israel “is controlling much of our foreign policy,” that they have “a powerful stranglehold on the American government. They control both members of the House, and Senate.”(The shocking thing about this interview is more than the ex-congressman’s rantings. It was the lack of reaction from the mainstream media, other Democrats and leaders. This man may be on the edge, but he is still a former congressman and he is apparently thinking about running for Congress again. A lesson in word use: He says “I have some grudges,” and a few moments later, Van Susteren says, “You said you had some grudges. Who are your grudges against?”)

Fox News.com, “Exclusive: Traficant – ‘I was a Target… I Must Have Been Doing Something Right,’” Sept. 11, 2009

“Their danger is no less than that of the Zionist Jews or of the Crusader Americans in Iraq and elsewhere,” said Sheikh Yousuf Al-Ahmad, a professor at Al-Iman University in Riyadh. The professor says that the owners of TV stations carrying foreign channels “broadcast corruption and nudity. They are all people who spread corruption in the land, and they should be tried in an Islamic court of law and sentenced to death.” When the interviewer tries to intercede and says that this isn’t Islam, the professor says that “our human nature may tell us that stoning is unacceptable but this is the punishment decreed by Allah.” (The interview is worth reading for Americans who are largely ignorant about how violent and determined radical Islamists are. We tend to think that domestic political groups are exaggerating the claims for what Islam is trying to accomplish. It’s a chilling exchange.)

Memri TV “Saudi University Professor Yousuf Al-Ahmad: Al-Walid bin Talal, Other Owners of Saudi TV Channels Should be Executed According to Islamic Law,” Aug. 30, 2009

TWITTER BLEETS

Marcus Fitzgerald tweeted curse words about Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Kurt Warner, who apparently annoyed Fitzgerald because he wasn’t giving his brother, receiver Larry Fitzgerald, enough attention.

Washington Redskins linebacker Robert Henson also called fans “dim wits” in a Tweet. He apologized saying he was “not scared but because it was the right thing to do.” (Bleet away.)

USA Today, “Cyperspace trashing, the vile frontier,” Sept. 23, 2009

GREAT EXAMPLE

A Phillies fan snagged a foul ball, celebrated and handed the trophy to his three-year-old daughter, who promptly heaved it back to the field. A stunned dad instinctively grabbed her and hugged her. “I didn’t want her to think she did anything wrong,” said Steve Monforto. The cameras caught the whole thing. (This was a great father-daughter moment and reminder about what’s really important.)

USA Today, “Catch, toss, hug, cheered by Philly fans,” Sept. 17, 2009

E-MAIL AND ALIGNMENT EXAMPLE

Connecticut Judge John Blawie compared words in UBS’s letters and marketing material claiming to provide “investment grade securities” to emails where personnel referred to the same products as “vomit” and “crap” indicating that UBS deceived clients. (This is a particularly good teaching tool. The simply named but powerful concept of “good” and “bad” words shows a stunning misalignment between internal and external networks of communication. The lesson for businesses and others is that communication is much more than a soft skill: It can literally save your business if you pay attention to the strategic implications. Apparently, no one at UBS’s bond division noticed or cared about the vast difference between how they were portraying products to customers and what they were calling them among themselves.)

The Wall Street Journal, “In UBS Case, Emails Show CDO Worries,” Sept. 11, 2009


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