Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for September 2011


  • Bimbo
  • September 1, 2011
  • by Spaeth Communications

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THE WINNING BIMBO

“I’m not a terrorist,” said freshman Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., in a video response to comments from Vice President Biden made at a “private” (Private? You’ve got to be kidding) meeting of the Democratic caucus. Biden reportedly said Republicans, especially Tea Party members, were acting “like terrorists” in the debt ceiling discussions. Walsh also wrote to New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, “I don’t wear a suicide vest or wage jihad,” in response to Nocera’s line that “Tea Party Republicans have waged jihad on the American people.” And finally, to keep the sound bite war going, Walsh called Sen. John McCain “a troll” after McCain referred to Tea Party members as “hobbits” who weren’t smart enough to recognize they had succeeded. (First, the vice president should know words like “terrorist” will never stay private. It’s a major “bad word.” Then, he made it worse by denying he had said it! Bad move! That, too, made news and ultimately made him look worried and deceptive. Mr. Nocera, whom we usually respect, does not seem to have made a good transition from the Business Section – where we routinely passed around his sage comments – to the Times’ Editorial Opinion Page. Has he had too many coffees with Professor Krugman? And Mr. Walsh isn’t helping the Tea Party’s cause by repeating negatives. To all these charges, he should have said, “I’m not going to repeat the words our opponents use to describe us because the American people deserve to know the truth about what’s really happening with our spending and they deserve to get an accurate picture of what our proposals will accomplish.” Notice the BIMBO comment made it into the headline.)

The Hill, “GOP freshman to Biden: ‘I’m not a terrorist,’” Aug. 3, 2011

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I am not worried,” said Syrian President Bashar Assad on state-run television about the continuing protests against his family’s multi-decade repressive reign. (We predict this will be a classic BIMBO, meaning – he’s toast. Many readers say they appreciate the “what they could and should have said” comment when we include it. This is another situation where we can’t think of anything and where we reprise the great advice from Don Etling, “You simply can't communicate your way out of a situation you've behaved your way into.” President Bashar is listening to all the wrong people and is clearly scared – perhaps to death? Literally? Note the BIMBO comment in a lengthy story made it into the headline.)

Salon.com, “Syria’s Assad: “I’m not worried” about security,” Aug. 22, 2011

“It was certainly not a publicity stunt,” former Senatorial Republican candidate Christine O’Donnell told the “Today” show about her widely ridiculed ad which began with her saying, “I am not a witch.”  (Does this young woman still have no one competent advising her? The interviewer asked, “Some people think of this as a publicity stunt on your part.”  She fell right into the trap. She should have said, “Of course not. It’s an opportunity to focus the attention of the American public on the need to bring new faces who aren’t career politicians into the political discussion.” Ms. O’Donnell wrote a new book and allowed herself to be baited by the struggling Piers Morgan. She walked out of an interview, which guaranteed that would be the news rather than anything she said. One of her staff people actually stood in front of CNN’s camera to end the interview. O’Donnell took issue with the questions Morgan kept asking, fundamentally confusing what a reporter’s job is and what she can do as the interviewee. Of course, he’s going to ask her leading and snide questions. All she had to do was acknowledge the question and have interesting comments of her own. For readers familiar with our courses, this would be a good place for General Petraeus’ response to Diane Sawyer when he said, “Where do they get this stuff?” with bemused intonation.)

“Today” show, Aug. 19, 2011

“Piers Morgan Tonight,” Aug. 18, 2011

“This is not an ego [thing],” said David Fischer, friend of Jon Huntsman, to a reporter in conjunction with a leaked email about the resignation of his campaign manager, Susan Wiles. (Well, we know Gov. Huntsman isn’t going anywhere. He doesn’t apparently understand that any email can become fodder for news, and he certainly doesn’t understand the power of “good” and “bad” words. The campaign put out a statement saying Mr. Fischer tried to “threaten” the campaign. In a presidential campaign, no “internal” spat is internal— it becomes public almost immediately and the focus of a long article was on the dysfunctional nature of the campaign staff and Gov. Huntsman’s lack of understanding of what’s required to run a presidential campaign. The infighting is so bad that Mr. Fischer told Politico chief strategist that John Weaver hired a staffer with a reputation for harassing young female volunteers. That, of course, is criminal, and Mr. Fischer has probably ended Gov. Huntsman’s chances by providing enough fodder for several months.)

Politico, “Inside the Huntsman drama,’” Aug. 4, 2011

“At no time has the campaign or Gingrich Communications employed an outside group to inflate the number of followers of @newtgingrich,” said spokesman for the former House speaker’s presidential campaign following a widely publicized accusation by a social networking firm, PeekYou, which examined the Twitter followers of the presidential candidates, questioning Gingrich’s huge lead of 1.3 million over Sarah Palin’s 600,000 followers and Mitt Romney’s 64,000. (This is a good learning example. When a company makes an allegation as PeekYou did, that’s going to be the story. The question is – how to use your quotes? It’s human nature to want to deny the allegations. Gingrich’s staff did have a decent quote, also included, “Twitter users follow Newt the same way they elect to follow Ashton Kutcher, Shaquille O’Neal or John McCain.” The problem is the denial gets much higher billing in the article and becomes the headline. Here’s where the acknowledgment phrase, “on the contrary,” is very useful. Use the phrase to invalidate the accusations, and then move to the message. In this case, in addition to the “Ashton Kutcher” quote, they could have added, “They follow Newt because he actually has something to say.”)

Fox News, “Gingrich Denies Allegations that Most of his 1.3 Million Twitter Followers are Fake and Paid,”

Aug. 3, 2011

“We strenuously refute any suggestion that Sky is not a ‘fit and proper’ holder of a broadcast license,” said BSkyB spokesman Robert Fraser. (This is similar to the Gingrich example—the issue is how to respond to allegations. News Corp. had a good quote, “News Corp has contributed greatly to the choice and quality of broadcasting in the UK,” which is certainly true. Murdoch’s incredibly foresighted purchase of Sky Television for one pound in 1983 prospered because people were tired of the BBC’s predictable offerings. We think they should have stuck to one quote rather than two. One reason this happens is because statements, quotes and responses tend to be written by committee, and the tendency to “add on” is hard to resist.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “BSkyB’s Ties to Murdoch Still Bind,” Aug. 1 - Aug.7, 2011

“I don’t think we’re in danger of another recession,” President Obama told the country. (Another example where the questioner used the word – in this case, “danger”– and the respondent, in this case President Obama, spit it back with a denial. Note it makes the headline. He should have said, “I hope not, and I also hope we can find areas of common agreement when I put my jobs program forward in September.” One can hope.)   

CBS, “Obama: U.S. isn’t in danger of second recession,” Aug. 17, 2011

“Just because we enter a space, that’s not to say we plagiarize your features and code,” said Ma Huateng, founder of the Chinese Internet company Tencent. Tencent has grown spectacularly since 1998 and offers a virtual currency, a search engine, e-commerce marketplaces, social networks, games and a service similar to Twitter. Analysts have commented on how they resemble AOL, Yahoo!, Facebook and Twitter. (In this “what could he have said?” discussion, he could have avoided the mistake of using the “bad” word “plagiarize.” That would probably be enough.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “March of the Penguins,” Aug. 8 - Aug.14, 2011

“Apple is not going to change,” wrote newly appointed CEO Tim Cook in an email to employees the day after Steve Jobs announced his resignation. (While this is a BIMBO, the email – except for this phrase – was right on target: timely, down-to-earth, personal and conversational, it said all the right things. And of course, the “internal” email promptly found its way to the media and public. I do wish he had written, “Apple is going to continue to be the company we all revere.” Again, notice the denial made the headline.)

Arstechnica.com, “Exclusive: Tim Cook emails Apple employees: ‘Apple is not going to change,’”

Aug. 25, 2011

Maybe we should create a new category named “Testosterone Display of the Month” for this next example. Three CEOs have funded efforts to build submarines/submersibles capable of descending to the deepest spot in the ocean, known as the Challenger Deep in the Pacific. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic, is the first. As the race became known, he said the purpose is to “explore the depths of our planet’s oceans.” A second company financed by unidentified “billionaires and near billionaires” is competing with its own design, but company president L. Bruce Jones said, “It’s not a publicity stunt.” And the third company is financed by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. They claim their vehicle, the Deepsearch, “is not a stunt dive.” (Actually, we love this. What a great testament to the power of competition and what innovation can accomplish.)

The New York Times, “Ambitions as Deep as their Pockets,” Aug. 2, 2011

“I’m not flipping,” protested H-P CEO Leo Apotheker who took over after Mark Hurd resigned under a cloud of controversy. (The story is about Mr. Apotheker’s seemingly back-and-forth decision making about key issues facing the company. He floated the idea of spinning off the iconic PC business and the acquisition of a pricey software firm, but the nervousness started when he assumed the position after Hurd and announced H-P’s strategy was sound and would continue. H-P launched a tablet and smart phone to compete with Apple, with Apotheker promoting the strategy and implementation publicly. Six weeks later, he killed the products. As with other stories this month, the story contained good quotes. Chairman Ray Lane noted, “I don’t know a single technology company that has succeeded without changing its strategy.”  But as we point out over and over, the denial gets the boxed quote and worse, takes the place of what he could have said. In this case, since the narrative is about how H-P needs to look to the future, it could have been something like, “We have the experience to assess a situation quickly, realize when something isn’t delivering and adjust.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “H-P needed to evolve, CEO Says,” Aug. 23, 2011

“Bert and Ernie Aren’t Gay,” was the headline after Sesame Street posted a Facebook message in response to Change.org’s petition that the show admit the two puppets are gay and marry them. (The statement actually said Bert and Ernie “Do not have a sexual orientation,” and the headline writer added the “aren’t gay” translation. We think Change.org should leave kids shows alone. The Slate writer had the best line, noting Muppet heterosexuality was clearly present in Miss Piggy’s pursuit of Kermit and that Humphrey and Ingrid managed to produce baby Natasha.)

Slate, “Sesame Street Says Bert and Ernie Aren’t Gay,” Aug. 11, 2011

LAWYER BIMBOs

“This is not another Anthony Weiner case,” said Rocco Cipparone, a lawyer for local New Jersey office holder Louis Magazzu who sent nude pictures of himself to a woman who then shared them with the media. (Surely stupidity should disqualify one from elective office. Freeholder Magazzu protested, “A woman who I never met personally, but have corresponded with on the Internet for several years, has recently shared some photographs which she requested and that were intended only for her eyes.” Excuse us? “Corresponded for several years?” “Never met personally?” And you sent her nude pictures? Was this what Santayana meant when he said, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”)

Reuters, “New Jersey Democrat resigns after nude photos circulated,” Aug. 2, 2011

“He is not interested in pedophilia. He is not interested in little girls. He is addicted to bondage, sadomasochism and wearing diapers and frilly dresses,” said attorney Ted Steinke defending his client, Joseph Peter Garbarini, a kindergarten teacher who was accused of playing inappropriate games with five-year-old girls in his class. One child complained; police raided his home and found thousands of diapers, many dirty, a bed with shackles and other unusual devices. Steinke argued to the jury that Garbarini had some peculiar sexual tendencies but they were all legal and “young girls were the furthest thing from his mind.” (I guess we chalk this up to the old college try. It looks to us as if this was a case that should have been pled out. The jury found him guilty. I know the ethic of the legal profession dictates that everyone is innocent until convicted, and that everyone deserves a defense, but doesn’t it have to pass the laugh test?)

Dallas Morning News, “Former Plano kindergarten teacher’s sex-abuse trial opens with bizarre accusations, defense,” Aug. 15, 2011  

WRONG THING TO SAY

Professional service firms do occasionally fire clients, as opposed to being fired by them, but rarely do they do so publicly. Ft. Lauderdale-based ad agency Zimmerman resigned from Captain D’s Seafood Kitchen with an email to a blogger announcing the act that noted, “It is unfortunate that Captain D’s has brought on a new CMO (chief marketing officer) that has a history of quick reviews and short stops on his resume. While we think there may be a correlation between those things, the ‘kiss my new ring’ game is one that we simply refuse to play – especially since we have had an unwavering mission to help the brand regain its focus on seafood and commitment to kitchen fresh quality. We are clearly on a different page than the CMO. It is our hope that our mission with Captain D’s will continue if the carnage is kept in control during this CMO’s stopover.” (Woo! If you kill the king, you better kill the king.)

Nashville Business Journal, “Ad Agency throws Captain D’s overboard,” Aug. 11, 2011

Rapper “The Game” advised his 580,000 Twitter followers to call the Compton California Sheriff’s office if they wanted an internship. The resulting flood of calls overwhelmed the phone lines. (An example of how it isn’t the crisis that gets you, it’s how you handle it. This was a stupid prank. First, The Game, whose name is Jayceon Taylor, claimed his Twitter account had been hacked, and then he tried to laugh it off, tweeting “@latimes It wasn’t me (shaggy voice).”  For the uninitiated, another singer, Shaggy, sings a song about a man who gets caught cheating by his girlfriend and tries to escape by denying it was him. Finally, Taylor admitted the prank and apologized. He should have done that immediately, profusely, and offered to do something charitable for the many law enforcement charities that contribute to communities.)

Slate, “Rapper Sorry for Twitter ‘Mishap’ that Jammed Police Phone Lines,” Aug. 17, 2011

Dallas County Commissioner’s Court is an ongoing, real-time reality show involving crime, insults, conflict and other tragic themes. Most recently, Commissioner John Wiley Price (Google him) attacked Dr. Ron Anderson, legend and CEO of the city hospital Parkland, for appearing with only white executives to outline their proposed budget. Anderson replied, “I do not hire based on skin tone. I hire based on quality.” (Yet another BIMBO, and example of bad and good quotes.) When Maurine Dickey, another commissioner tried to suggest Parkland had positive news, Price turned on her saying, “You’re insulting.” (Our question in this long-running farce; where are Dallas’ business community leaders and the media? The shenanigans of the Commissioner’s Court, which most recently pulled a probably illegal and certainly unethical switch of district lines to effectively eliminate Dickey’s district and put Price in charge of all five seats, have real implications for Dallas.)

Dallas Morning News, “Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price blasts Parkland chief for not hiring minority executives,” August 2, 2011

HOW INFORMATION MOVES

Whether the wave belongs at baseball games is a topic that generates strong views on both sides. A Texas A&M student recently held up a snide sign and a TV cameraman focused on it. From her cell phone, blogger Tristyn Day posted a picture of the TV shot of the sign to Reddit.com. Her post was then picked up on another website, Brobible.com, which linked to the Reddit post and added its own comment. That was enough for Sports Illustrated, ESPN, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor and numerous bloggers to join the debate. (The original student sign said, “Surgeons have determined that doing the wave will, yes, will cause tears to the suprapinatus [sic] muscle and the infraspinatus muscle from the throwing of the individual’s arm rapidly into the air. In addition, any character doing the wave will be sold to the circus. Do not do the wave in the Ballpark, doing the wave is safe at pro football games and Miley Cyrus concerts.”  The Brobible addition: “What the Rangers organization doesn’t tell you is how Nolan Ryan will personally deliver swift, unmerciful justice with his fists. Just ask Robin Ventura what that’s like.”  Apparently both messages confused some fans who thought they were coming from the Rangers officially. We have nothing to add to this debate but think it’s an interesting example of how information gets picked up and passed along these days.)

Dallas Morning News, “Texas Rangers’ jocular jab at wave inspires fans to take a stand,” Aug. 22, 2011

“I didn’t commit a crime. I didn’t kill anyone or rape anyone or anything like that,” said Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew about a push for him to apologize for a tweet that criticized Bears quarterback Jay Cutler by questioning his toughness. Jones-Drew insisted he had nothing to apologize for. (Leaving aside the First Amendment issues, we’re fascinated by another Twitter example of an athlete who tweeted whatever came into his head without thinking of the consequences. Second, Jones-Drew made the comment back in January! These things live forever! And again, the problem is that it foments controversy instead of focus on the Jaguars and football.)

NFLgridirongab.com, “Jaguars RB Jones-Drew Won’t Apologize for Jay Cutler Tweets,” Aug. 10, 2011

And from people who should know better, Greg Gutfield and Bob Beckle posted comments saying they held back from criticizing Sarah Palin, a fellow Fox News contributor, and that “It has everything to do with your paycheck.” After they were deservedly criticized, they tried to backtrack, posing they were only joking. (Once again, think before you post. Who might react to this?)

Huffington Post, “Fox News Hosts Admit they’ve ‘Pulled Punches,’ with Sarah Palin,” Aug. 4, 2011

WORTH READING

“If you want doom and gloom, this will not be it…I am not going to promise you that we will have the greatest boom in economic history, because we won’t. But nonetheless I think some of the recent negativism and doom and gloom is way overstated,” said economist Laurence Chimerine to a business group. “In virtually every single industry there is more foreign competition. And in many industries as a result of technology and companies trying to find new markets to grow more rapidly, there’s even more domestic competition.”  Here’s the quote we really like: “The combination has produced an intensely competitive economy beyond anything that has been experienced in the history of this country or anywhere else, and we’re not gong back. That’s the way it’s going to be forever.” (Amen. A must read for everyone, particularly any employees considering joining unions.)

Tallahassee Democrat, “Coping with economy takes some creativity,” Aug. 14, 2011


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