Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for October 2014


  • Bimbo
  • October 8, 2014
  • by Spaeth Communications

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Politicians, athletes and businesses made noteworthy BIMBO comments this month, but the winner is an ordinary citizen because of the implications of her statements. Right behind her are the politicians, largely because they’re paying consultants who should know better than to let them speak this out of turn. Check out the winners, and click through to the full BIMBO memo for more, including Secretary of State John Kerry demonstrating the power of words, examples of the Wrong Thing to Say from the Vancouver Sun, Malaysian Airlines, Fox and Friends and Urban Outfitters. We also have a good Twitter example from Rep. Dingell, D-Mich.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“We are not scared,” said Hong Kong democracy activist and civil servant Carol Chan participating in mass demonstrations in response to the Chinese government’s insistence that they would pick the candidates for Hong Kong voters in upcoming elections. (She should be scared. The Chinese police used tear gas and have shown every indication that they intend to crush the demonstrators. Beijing doesn’t currently have a face-saving way out. Their list of approved candidates should include several who are reasonable business or civic leaders who could get along with the mainland and Hong Kong. That would allow Beijing to claim victory and Hong Kong to prolong the status quo. And, as we so frequently note, the denial became the headline.)

The Associated Press, “Protestors set deadline: Demands include democracy, city leader’s exit: ‘We are not scared,’” Sept. 30, 2014

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I’m not Barack Obama,” said Alison Grimes, the Democratic challenger to Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky senate race. (Grimes claimed she opposes the president on guns, coal and the EPA. This race, and the subsequent analysis, will provide good research on how people hear denials. Grimes votes with President Obama about 96 percent of the time. Note the BIMBO comment made it into the headline.)

Gateway Pundit, “Democrat Alison Grimes Releases New Ad: ‘I’m not Barack Obama,’” Sept. 15, 2014

“I am not an isolationist,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., responding to questions about whether he approved of President Obama’s intervention into Iraq and Syria to combat ISIL. (This is a good illustration of why denials are a mistake. The rest of Sen. Paul’s statement was thoughtful and persuasive, but the only sentence that is excerpted is the “not an isolationist” phrase. Remember: denials compete with and drive out the real message. Sen. Paul should have said, “I have strong principles and I support policies that protect America and uphold American values.”)

Time, “Rand Paul: ‘I Am Not an Isolationist,’” Sept. 4, 2014

“I am not saying the republican party [sic] is beheading people in the streets,” tweeted Jesse Smith, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Alabama. (Smith tweeted earlier in the month then expanded upon it with a Facebook post on his campaign page. Smith described the Republicans’ tax and fiscal programs as “beheadings” similar to what the extremist group ISIL was doing. This is an example of how not to make things worse. Having made a stupid comment, Smith doubled down with denials and explanations. It’s listed here, under denials, but it’s also a worthy social media example: Smith deleted the exchange but Google’s cache kept it alive and screenshots can live forever.)

International Business Times, “Republicans in Congress Are Worse Than ISIL’ Tweet By Democrat ‘JT’ Smith Slammed on Twitter,” Sept. 2, 2014

“It is not a clash of civilizations…This is not the prelude to another US ground war in the Middle East…This campaign is not about helping President Bashar Assad of Syria,” said Secretary of State John Kerry defending the U.S. decision to launch air strikes against ISIL. (Secretary Kerry has a terrible habit of running at the mouth, and it frequently manifests itself via these strings of denials. It’s a mistake because it lengthens the verbiage, and because it fuzzes up the actual message. In this case, the rest of the Secretary’s message is very powerful and well stated.)

The Boston Globe, “Under US leadership, world will defeat ISIS,” Sept. 26, 2014

“I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser,” said Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson about charges that he disciplined his four-year-old son too severely. (Although this is a communication crisis, it’s also a very sad family story. We believe Peterson when he says that he only did to his child what was done to him. While he may not have a doubt about classifying his behavior, we’re willing to bet that he spends a good deal of time studying football plays and films. We wish he would spend a little more time studying to be a decent parent. Peterson’s statement is heartfelt but notice that the BIMBO comment made it into the headline.)

The Times-Picayune, “Adrian Peterson releases statement: ‘I am, without a doubt, not a child abuser,’” Sept. 15, 2014

“I’m not someone who operates in the shadows,” said a physician who performs abortions. (Dr. Stacy De-Lin responded to a reporter who wrote about having an abortion. De-Lin turned out to be the doctor who had performed the abortion. The article is a thoughtful discussion about whether OBGYN training should include training on abortions and recounts anecdotes of horror stories of women who had back alley abortions. It excludes discussion of how the availability of abortion for any reason has had an impact on relationships and the willingness to have unprotected sex. Unfortunately, the issue has become so polarized that we do not allow any nuanced or middle discussion. And, note the denial made it into the headline.)

Salon, “’I’m not someone who operates in the shadows’: An abortion provider on stigma, safety and ‘coming out’ about her job,” Aug. 30, 2014

“I am not a sexual predator,” said British radio host Dave Lee Travis in response to accusations of groping a staffer. (Travis, a popular radio personality, was accused two years ago and cleared of 12 counts of indecency and convicted of one. While we sympathize with his predicament, we point out that his comments about being cleared on 12 counts and “mortified” by the conviction on one count are crowded out by the denial.)

The Telegraph, “Dave Lee Travis: ‘I am not a sexual predator,’” Sept. 26, 2014

“We were given no indication that this has anything to do with the SEC inquiry,” said the German insurance company Allianz commenting on the sudden resignation of Pimco’s famed Chief Investment Officer Bill Gross as an SEC investigation came to light. (Allianz should have simply noted that they have a robust process to ensure transparency and compliance on a global scale. And, once more, the denial made the headline.)

Reuters, “No sign Gross departure linked to SEC probe: Allianz,” Sept. 26, 2014

POWER OF WORDS

“War” – are we at “war” with ISIL or is it just a “counterterrorism exercise” as Secretary of State John Kerry insisted last month? Finally, the secretary has thrown in the towel and agreed we can call it “war.” (Again, the secretary went on and on and on. He did eventually say, “In terms of al-Qaeda, which we have used the word ‘war’ with, yeah, we are at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and in the same context, if you want to use it, yes, we’re at war with ISIL in that sense.” The secretary continued that the debate was a “waste of time” but by engaging in it, he prolonged it.)

CBS “Face the Nation,” “Kerry: Okay We Can Call it ‘War’ if You Want,” Sept. 14, 2014

“Rape” is one of the most volatile and sensational words in our vocabulary. It arguably cost two 2012 Republican Senate candidates electoral success. The latest example comes from a dispute in Massachusetts involving the governor’s brother-in-law who was convicted in 1993 of spousal rape. (The convoluted facts involve his conviction in California, whether he should continue to be listed on the Massachusetts sex offender registry and Gov. Patrick’s firing of members of the Sex Offender Registry Board and staff. The newly fired members allegedly pressured agency staff to keep the brother-in-law on the registry. Just to confuse the issue more, the argument involved whether the legal standards in Massachusetts are different from California.)

Boston Herald, “Advocates livid about rape ruling on Gov. Deval Patrick’s brother-in-law,” Sept. 24, 2014

WRONG THING TO SAY

The antiquated term “Orient” and the well-established anti-Semitic slur “Shylock” from the Merchant of Venice do not often make an appearance in the same day. Vice President Joe Biden managed to deliver both recently. (The vice president was discussing the problems of some returning service personnel in keeping up with their mortgages. “These Shylocks who took advantage of these men and women while overseas,” said Biden. He then apologized for using the term only to refer to Singapore politician Lee Kuan Yew as highly regarded in “the Orient.” As we’ve seen, the offensive word made it into the headline.)

Los Angeles Times, “Joe Biden, rebuked by Jewish groups, apologizes, then refers to ‘Orient,’” Sept. 17, 2014

“The dark guy in the middle,” was the phrase chosen by the Vancouver Sun to identify a hockey player in a photo. Jordan Subban scored his first goal in the National Hockey League. (The Sun had a great picture but alas, it identified Jordan as noted above. Bizarre. They could have just said “third from the left” or “facing the camera and smiling.”)

Yahoo Sports, “Vancouver Sun apologizes for photo calling Jordan Subban ‘dark guy in middle,’” Sept. 24, 2014

“My Ultimate Bucket List Contest,” was a sweepstakes organized by Malaysia Airlines. (A “bucket list” is supposed to be things we want to do before we die. However, given Malaysia Airlines’ recent history, this was not the wisest choice. Flight 370 disappeared at sea in March and Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine by Russian separatists in July.)

The Washington Post, “Malaysia Airlines, still reeling from tragedies, scrubs its ‘ultimate bucket list’ contest,” Sept. 3, 2014

“The message is, take the stairs,” was Fox and Friends host Brian Kilmeade’s bad joke when discussing the NFL’s Ray Rice incident. (The violent video of Rice shows his abuse of his now-wife in an elevator. Kilmeade’s joke came after reading a series of tweets and emails from viewers. While we are advocates of using humor, this would qualify of an inappropriate instance.)

New York Daily News, “’Fox & Friends hosts joke about Ray Rice video: ‘The message is, take the stairs,’” Sept. 8, 2014

Urban Outfitters again outraged people with a $129 Kent State sweatshirt that has faux blood stains on it. Rather than issue an apology, Urban Outfitters said they were sorry the sweatshirt had “been perceived negatively.” (The company has made other gaffes, calling a color “Obama/Black” and having a shirt with “eat less” modeled by a skinny girl. Founder Richard Hayne said in a call to analysts last year that their customer was “the upscale homeless person who has a slight degree of angst.” To top it off, Urban Outfitters did not comment when Forbes, where this column appeared, asked for a spokesperson.)

Forbes, “Urban Outfitters’ Real Scandal: Its Disdain For Its Customers,” Sept. 18, 2014

SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMPLES

“Terrific way to start the game, @Lions. Just what the doctor ordered. (Not really. They ordered antibiotics, thankfully. But the TD helps.),” tweeted Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich. from the hospital. (Since the Federal Trade Commission suffered much at Rep. Dingell’s hands, I am grumpy about giving him kudos. The 88-year-old lifetime congressman landed in the hospital and chronicled the experience by entertaining his followers with highly-personalized tweets. It’s a good example of how to turn a personal experience into a public one.)

ABC News, “88-year-old Rep. John Dingell’s Hospital Tweets are Hilarious,” Sept. 10, 2014

Watch those codes! Delaware Gov. Jack Markell tried to promote an educational event with a photo but he didn’t get the sequence of letters and numbers right and so the picture was a semi-stripper in a suggestive outfit. The offensive link was only character off from the photo Markell intended to tweet.

The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal, “#oops! Del. Governor mistakenly tweets suggestive photo,” Sept. 5, 2014



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