Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for October 2017


  • Bimbo
  • October 5, 2017
  • by Spaeth Communications

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This might be the largest batch of examples in our history! We have BIMBOs from a New York Times analyst, a non-underwear-wearing waitress, Vladimir Putin, an Italian politician, Hillary Clinton, Australian actress Rebel Wilson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a border smuggler, an accused NSA leaker and, of course, a few senators. The New America Foundation, IBM’s CEO, a Wisconsin sheriff, Tennessee’s insurance commissioner, a lawyer for the Colorado River and former US Attorney Preet Bharara also make appearances. We have a very good example of making statistics verbally visual as well as of how to restructure medical advice based on how the patient hears the information.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“We are definitely not tanking,” said the New York Jets’ new CEO, Christopher Johnson, after taking over the position from his brother Woody, who is now U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom. (The Jets have a 0-2 start, and it looks like reporters asked something about “tanking,” which triggered Johnson’s response and created the headline. Johnson needs some media and messaging help. He should have focused on his positive message: “I’ve been a fan of this team all my life,” and “I think you’re going to see this team get better and better and better.” His positive prediction should have been the headline. It just got overpowered by comments like “growing pains” and “not tanking.”)

New York Post, “Jets’ new boss speaks: I’m in charge, and we’re not tanking,’” Sept. 20, 2017

THE RUNNERS-UP

“This is not about the bikini,” said Schuyler Lifschultz, the attorney for a group of baristas who work for a chain of bikini coffee stands and wear, what else? Bikinis! The City Council of Everett, Washington, recently passed two ordinances for how much skin restaurant employees can reveal. (This must have been an interesting discussion because the level of specificity reached identifying shoulders, breasts, torso and three inches below buttocks as areas that must be covered. The Council called it a health issue and a way to combat what are really “sexpresso” stores. The plaintiffs replied that their tattoos and scars prompt conversations with their patrons. We bet they do. Also, the regulation provides diagrams to illustrate the new requirements. Lifschultz gets a high five for the ability to defend bikinis with a straight face.)

The Seattle Times, “Bikini baristas sue Everett, say bare-skin ban violates their freedom of expression,” Sept. 11, 2017

“I don’t give Shermanesque statements on anything,” said Governor Chris Christie. This is a worthwhile example because it shows a reporter baiting Christie and trying very hard to plant words in his mouth. (The issue was whether Christie might appoint himself as New Jersey’s senator if Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., currently on trial for bribery, is convicted and forced to resign. A New York Times reporter, Nick Confessore, asked Christie about his plans and said, “I’m looking for a Shermanesque statement here,” prompting the response above. Confessore then tried to box Christie in, saying, “So it’s possible?” That would have led to a story about how Christie refused to rule himself out. Not done, Confessore said that “Senator Christie had a nice sound,” hoping Christie would agree. These guys never give up when they have a story narrative in mind. Beware.)

Legal Insurrection, “Chris Christie Will not give ‘Shermanesque’ Refusal to Appoint Himself to Replace Menendez,” Sept. 4, 2017

WRONG THING TO SAY

“It’s not evil,” said Pradeep Chauhan, managing partner of OnContracting, a site that helps people find contracting positions in tech. (He is referring to the seismic shift in employment away from lifetime employment with a company where employees can start by sweeping the floor and end up doing high end research in contrast to highly focused companies who subcontract all non-core functions. This lengthy and impeccably written article is a must read for anyone interested in policy and politics. It compares two individuals, one who began sweeping floors for Eastman Kodak for years and ended up as the company’s chief technology officer and her current counterpart at Apple who is stuck in a janitorial job – forever. Chauhan is explaining the pluses of the shift while recognizing the costs are primarily to employees. Conservatives, who are ideologically wedded to the importance of hard work, need to acknowledge the shifting environment for opportunity. One final comment, this is the Times at its best.)

The New York Times, “To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now, Neil Irwin,” Sept. 3, 2017

“I’m not prancing my breasts around,” complained waitress Genevieve Loiselle who works for East Side Mario’s in Timmins, Ontario. She was protesting the manager’s request that she wear a bra. (This hilarious story is actually an examination in miniature of an employee’s rights and managerial communication. The manager in question was obviously uncomfortable with Loiselle’s clearly observable breasts with nipple rings, but she made a mistake: after an outcry, the manager backtracked and tried to rationalize the request, then she denied she had made it, then she retracted it. Maybe she needs to talk to the Everett, Washington, Council folks. We expect Loiselle to be hiring lawyer Lifschultz.)

Yahoo Finance, “East Side Mario’s waitress complains about manager’s demand that she wear a bra,” Sep. 8, 2017

“He’s not my bride,” retorted Russian President Vladimir Putin when asked if he was disappointed in the supposedly-close-now-fracturing relationship with President Trump. (Putin certainly has a way with words. We’re with Putin who added that the whole line of questioning “sounds very naïve.” Note that the line did make its own news and became the headline.)

ABC News, “Trump ‘is not my bride,’ Russian President Vladimir Putin says,” Sept. 5, 2017

“We absolutely don’t want to create a populist, extremist and anti-European Italy,” said Italian politician, Luigi Di Maio. The comment is noteworthy, if not believable because he may be Italy’s next Prime Minister. (Di Maio, who’s only 31, is part of what’s called the 5 Star Movement, a new party founded by Beppe Grillo which advocates for Italy to leave the Eurozone and to ignore and abandon the fiscal restraints agreed to in return for bail out from the European Union. Di Maio has certainly learned how to be a politician.  Of course, if elected and able to carry out the party’s platform, the result will be just the country described by the adjectives above.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Italy’s Upstart 5 Star Movement Looks to Candidate with Mainstream Appeal,” Sept. 20, 2017

“I am not someone who will say things that aren’t true,” said Hillary Clinton touring for her book, “What Happened.” (The tour has generated non-stop soundbites and controversy. Her harshest criticism is directed at former fellow Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. “He’s not a Democrat—that’s not a smear, that’s what he said.” Of course, it is. As with many politicians, we are in awe of Clinton’s abilities to say the patently untrue with a straight face – the subtitle of the article is, “Says she’s too honest for politics…?”—while selling tickets for, in some cases, thousands of dollars for book signings.)

The Daily Wire, “Clinton: ‘I am Not Someone Who Will Say Things That Aren’t True,’” Sept. 13, 2017

“This case wasn’t about the money,” claimed Australian actress, Rebel Wilson, who was awarded $3.6 million in a defamation suit against Woman’s Day magazine. (Oh please! Just like it isn’t about the bikinis. Predictably she wants to give the money to charity. We’ll hold our breath for those stories. While we sympathize with Wilson who was unfairly savaged by a gossip magazine, and we’re glad she won, she should have said, “I’m glad the truth and sanity won out and this judgment should remind publications of the importance of getting the facts and story right.”)

CNN, “Actress Rebel Wilson awarded record $3.6 M in Australian defamation case,” Sep.114, 2017

“This had nothing to do with convenience,” claimed Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin responding to criticism over his use of a government jet for his European honeymoon. (Mnuchin claimed it was for “national security” reasons. Oh please again! He also tried to rationalize a recent trip to Fort Knox, which coincidentally happened to be along the path of the total eclipse. “You know, people in Kentucky took this stuff very serious. Being a New Yorker…I was like, the eclipse? Really? I don’t have any interest in watching the eclipse.”)

Axios, “Mnuchin claims request for government jet was for ‘national security,’” Sept. 15, 2017

“Look, I’m not a hypocrite. I do it for the money,” said Alexis, the pseudonym of a human smuggler at the Mexican border. (This highlights the tension between being a reporter and a good citizen. While not disputing the superb reporting that went into this lengthy story, the paper and the reporter are helping criminals break the law and putting people’s lives at risk. And Alexis is a hypocrite. He crossed into and worked in the U.S. illegally himself. But we urge people to read the story because it’s a compelling explanation of why a “wall” won’t achieve its goal of border security.)

USA Today, “Human smuggler says wall would make him rich,” Sept. 21, 2017

“I wasn’t trying to be a Snowden or anything,” says Reality Winner, an NSA contractor arrested and charged with smuggling a highly confidential intelligence report on Russian attempts to obtain U.S. voter data and giving it to a new outlet. (This young lady had clearly read too many Mother Jones articles. (The only link she has to reality is her name. First, she denied the crime, and then she said the report  sat on her desk for days and someone else could have seen it. She finally admitted she smuggled it out in her pantyhose. We were amazed. She is the only 25-year-old who admits to wearing panty hose. She had also posted incriminating comments about her motivation on Facebook. As with all screw-ups, the smart thing to do would have been to admit the truth right up front.)

Politico, “Alleged leaker Reality Winner said she stuffed NSA report in her pantyhose,” Sept. 27, 2017

“I will not be bought off,” is what Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, supposedly said when asked by a constituent about her opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill to partially repeal and replace Obamacare. (Maybe we should bring back earmarks…)

Twitter, September 25, 2017

Fired. That’s what happened to Barry Lynn, the founder of Open Markets, a left-liberal project that issued a press release supporting the European Union’s anti-trust regulator’s record $2.7 billion fine against Google. His project was housed within the even-more-left New America Foundation, which is heavily financed by – guess who—Google! The communication lesson, however, isn’t the firing, but the clumsy lengths NAF went to trying to deny that Google had pressured them to ditch Lynn. NAF’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, who makes $500,000 annually, told Lynn he was “imperiling the institution as a whole,” but insisted that the decision was “in no way based on the content of your work.” A spokesperson for NAF insisted that the Foundation’s financial backers “have no influence or control over the research design, methodology, analysis or findings” of its scholarly work. Lynn’s press release was removed from NAF’s website then restored citing “an unintentional internal issue.” Eric Schmidt, Google’s non-executive chairman reportedly stepped down as chairman to protest the support for the EU anti-trust initiative. What should NAF have said? Nothing if their goal is to maintain the illusion that they are a real academic think tank, but then, there aren’t any. Purity is an illusion. They should have said that they are pleased to be funded by people who share their vision for what technology can bring to individual lives and countries. Remember, in a pinch, always tell the truth. You can remember it. For a more in depth examination of what happened with Open Markets and the NAF, see The Weekly Standard article, which is a sobering examination of how Google and other large companies use so-called think tanks as an unregistered and untraceable lobbying tool.)

The New York Times, “Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant,” Aug. 31, 2017

“We aren’t out here to destroy man,” said IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty, in a lengthy article about Artificial Intelligence. (She explains the difference between AI and old-fashioned computing by saying that in the future, there will be no computer programming. “Machines will look at data, understand, reason over it and they continue to learn.” We don’t presume to know enough to comment on the technology. This lesson just points out that her whole argument is that AI allows machines to “work with man.” The negative inversion was unnecessary and she’s lucky it didn’t become the title.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Debrief: Ginni Rometty, CEO, IBM,” Sept. 25, 2017

“This is not for violating Fourth Amendment rights or for spying,” said West Salem, Wisconsin’s police chief, next to a picture of a very imposing drone hovering above. (This excellent article is enough to scare the pajamas off you. While it’s a very erudite history of the Fourth Amendment, most lay readers will focus only – as we did – on the exploding use of drones, which may indeed have wonderful uses, but are clearly extremely useful for watching all of us all the time.)

The Weekly Standard, “Protecting Privacy,” Sept. 4, 2017

“This issue is not an insurer bailout,” said Julie Mix McPeak, Tennessee’s insurance commissioner, about the debate over whether President Trump should continue the euphemistically titled “cost sharing” whereby the federal government gives taxpayer money to insurance companies so they can avoid raiding deductibles or out-of-pocket costs for low income people. (A rose by any other name? Of course it’s a bailout. Everyone knows the history of Obamacare: the insurance companies were bullied into supporting it with the promise that millions of new, young, healthy customers would sign up for the now-commoditized plans and would compensate for the cost of a host of new requirements. But the healthy young people didn’t want to sign up, and because insurance companies couldn’t decline or charge more for people with pre-existing conditions, many lost tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. Given Congress’ inability to rope in its self-promoting members to pass a partial repeal, the insurance companies are likely to feel more pain.

The New York Times, “Work Toward Bipartisan Fix for Health Markets Begins in Senate,” Sept. 6, 2017

“You’re not being an outcast. You’re not being a fringe member of Congress,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders , I-Vt. (The context was the Senator’s announcement of a plan calling for free health and medical care for all Americans, dubbed “Medicaid for all,” noting that what was once a far-left impossible dream had become mainstream for progressives and Democrats. Listen to him. He’s right.  This shows how economically illiterate the public is and illustrates the self-defeating nature of the three Republican senators who refused to accept the Graham-Cassidy approach to providing an alternative.)

The New York Times, “How Single-Payer Health Care Could Trip Up Democrats,” Sept. 11, 2107

“It’s not pie in the sky,” said Jason Flores-Williams, a Denver lawyer who is trying to file a suit establishing the Colorado River as a person, which will allow it to have rights and sue the government, nearby landowners, pipeline developers and just about anyone else. (We doubt this is what composer, Jerome Kern, had in mind when he wrote, “Ole Man River,” but the group, Deep Green Resistance, is dead serious and with the number of activist federal judges, who knows how far they’ll get? This story is so preposterous that even The New York Times referred to the group as “a far left environmental group.” The paper routinely characterizes “far right” groups but to our knowledge, this is the first time we’ve seen a “far left” description. What’s next? Mountains? They’ll want to sue skiers for the pain of ski trails. Certainly barrier islands that can finally go after the brutalization they’ve experienced at the hands of vacation home builders.)

The New York Times, “Corporations Have Rights. Why Shouldn’t Rivers?” Sept. 26, 2017

“I’m not doing a weekly podcast to throw bombs,” said Preet Bharara. Until recently he was the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York until President Trump fired him when he refused to resign. (Bharara has a new podcast where he is doing – guess what – throwing bombs at – guess who – President Trump. Although new presidents always appoint their own US Attorneys and almost all tender their resignations as a matter of principle, Bharara did not.)

USA Today, “EXCLUSIVE: Preet Bharara’s new podcast to take on justice issues, Trump. Nothing’s ‘off limits,’” Sept. 18, 2017

“We’re not heartless,” said Nicole McQuarry, regional manager for City Gate Property Group. (This is a cautionary lesson in why every company’s staff needs media training. The story is about an elderly woman with health problems living on tiny monthly income. She occasionally falls behind on her rent, triggering late fees that pile up and almost end up with her evicted. Part of the problem is her and her family’s lack of awareness of how to deal with problems and of additional sources of income. Part of it was her reluctance to tell her family she needed help and part of it was the property company’s refusal to take a humane approach. When her story hit the press, City Gate immediately did the right thing and worked with her. The “heartless” quote, followed by “We’re just doing our jobs and trying to make sure everyone pays their rents,” was just the wrong one. They should have said, “When Mrs. Rooter’s situation was brought to our attention, we worked with her and will continue to do so.”)   

The Dallas Morning News, “Late fees compounded tenant’s woes,” Sept. 17, 2017

There is “no link between gaming machines in betting shops and problem gambling,” claimed the Association for British Bookmakers in a story about the growing number of addicted gamblers and a machine that allows people to place £100 bets every 20 seconds. (The debate is over a machine, the “fixed odds betting terminal,” which is also heavily concentrated in low-income neighborhoods. This is another eye rolling moment. We believe in legal gambling, but we’re also advocates of recognizing the damage of addictive behavior and how policies and geographic availability can aggravate it.)

The New York Times, “42 Minutes, £2,600 Lost: The U.K.’s Growing Gambling Problem,” Sept. 23, 2017

POWER OF BAD WORDS

“Are you on drugs?” wrote White House Special Counsel, Ty Cobb, to a reporter when she pressed him about a letter President Trump supposedly composed to fire FBI Director, James Comey, but never sent. (The reporter, Natasha Bertrand of Business Insider, posted the email to Twitter the next day, which should have been expected. An inflammatory question with the word “drugs” is going to get passed on, and in today’s social media landscape that can mean it gets passed on to lots of people. Notice the phrase made the headline.)

Huffington Post, “Trump lawyer Asks Journalist If She’s On Drugs After James Comey Question,” Sept. 3, 2017

APOLOGIES

Golden State Warriors star, Kevin Durant, found out the hard way that Twitter can backfire. This is an example of bad choices and a good recovery. Durant decided – inexplicably – to post critical comments of his former team, the Oklahoma Thunder, and coach. He did so through a fake account and when he posted again, but forgot to switch back from his verified official account, he was outed. The presumable outrage ensued. That’s the bad choice. The positive recovery is that he admitted his behavior was wrong and sat for an abject “mea culpa” interview with sports columnist, Sam Amick, where he appeared genuinely remorseful and upset with himself. No defense. No canned language. It’s a good read.

USA Today, “Remorseful Kevin Durant feels terrible about Twitter incident: ‘Disappointed in myself,” Sept. 19, 2017

Last month Louise Linton caused a snafu calling an Instagram user “adorably out of touch.” Read our full break down in last month’s BIMBO. If the story ended there, it would be another typical example of inexplicably bad behavior. But after a week hunkered down, Linton sat for a long interview with a Washington Life Magazine reporter. She came across as genuinely remorseful, as does Durant, and – like Durant – puzzled that she could have exhibited such bad judgment. Again, it’s a good read.

Washington Life Magazine, “Exclusive Interview: Louise Linton Gets Real,” Sept. 5, 2017

STATISTICS

If you’ve been through our courses, you know that statistics can drive memory, but also that they can be confusing and irrelevant. We urge clients to make them “verbally visual.” That is, if you have a number you have to use, try to relate it to something to create a visual. Here’s an example: in an article on hummingbirds, the photographer had to shoot 500 frames per second to catch the movement which allows the bird to hover and to fly. How much is 500 frames? “At the typical frames-per-second rate of a theatrical movie—let’s say the 1939 classic ‘Gone with the Wind’—500 frames is roughly what it took for Scarlett O’Hara to run down the staircase and tearfully plead, ‘Rhett, Rhett! If you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?’” That’s a lot to pack into one second of hummingbird wing movement. Of course, the only problem with this wonderful example – have millennials seen “Gone with the Wind”?  Maybe we need to find an example from “Wonder Woman.”

National Geographic, “Unlocking the Secrets Behind the Hummingbird’s Frenzy,” July 2017 Issue

Dr. Behar Ehdale, a surgeon at Memorial Sloan Kettering, was puzzled. He was telling patients who had prostate cancer that they didn’t need surgery, just monitoring. And they were going ahead and opting for the surgery anyway. What was going on? He consulted with a Harvard professor who taught him to apply negotiating techniques – but they didn’t call them that. Rather, they restructure the verbal advice to take into account how the patient heard the advice. Initially, physicians generally reviewed options with surgery as the first choice and active surveillance as the last. They flipped the order, so they started surveillance, then radiation and lastly surgery. Next, rather than saying “I’ll see you in six months,” which caused the patient to worry how much cancer could spread in six months, he would say that the cancer was growing very slowly and would normally be safe to be checked in five years, but that he would see them in six months. Further, he told the patient that they will get a rigorous program of MRIs, tests and biopsies.  They tested the approach and found the percentage of men who chose active surveillance rose 30%, which decreases the amount of surgery and the adverse side effects.  

The Wall Street Journal, “Bargaining With Cancer Patients About Treatment,” Sep. 2, 2017

There was a lot of discussion following killer hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, about what worked to encourage residents to evacuate. This is worth reading. The design firm, Ideo, worked with a New York City nonprofit to re-do a website that helps residents envision what could happen with flooding in their neighborhood. The critical finding, “fear based messages didn’t really work.” What did? Among other techniques, virtual reality goggles that allowed participants in the experiment to experience and envision what a flooded neighborhood would look like and experiment with how to re-do and protect their local environs.

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Giving New Yorkers a Real Feel For Flooding,” Sept. 25, 2017



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