Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for September 2013


  • Bimbo
  • September 1, 2013
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image b

What a month! Is there something in the water? There is so much to talk about.  We have BIMBO comments from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the Tea Party candidate challenging Mitch McConnell (whose campaign gets one of its own), the postmaster general, the EPA administrator, Chris Matthews (who is indeed paranoid), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Marty Dempsey, supermodel Kate Upton (whine, whine, whine) and more. We have illustrations of the power of negative words from Commander of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos and from the US Airways president and CEO, courtesy of a Department of Justice anti-trust lawsuit. Winners of the “Wrong Thing to Say” category include two CEOs along with Bradley Manning’s own legal counsel. Also, a Republican PAC gives itself a black eye by promoting a game where people can slap former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This month also features social media moments gone terribly wrong with examples from an Alabama TV reporter who shares a top ten list on her blog and is surprised when her supervisors read it. Former New England Patriot and accused killer Aaron Hernandez writes a letter to a fan with “keep out of social media” instructions. (The fan doesn’t follow them.) The New York Times Magazine asks, “Should Reddit be Blamed for the Spreading of a Smear?” And Slate magazine takes an unusually candid look at how the Associated Press sensationalizes a story.

THE WINNER

“This is not a bait and switch,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, trying to reassure states that are reluctant to expand Medicaid programs because they fear Washington will renege on paying 100 percent of the costs. (The secretary is on somewhat shaky analytical grounds. She also told a bipartisan group, “This is no longer a political debate; this is the law,” after the administration announced the current law isn’t enough to enforce the employer mandate. Note that the BIMBO comment becomes the headline.)

Associated Press, “Sebelius: ‘this is not a Bait-and-Switch,’” Aug. 12, 2013

THE RUNNERS UP

“I’m not going to be one of these people who’s going to come and call our party stupid,” said New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to a Republican National Committee meeting in Boston. (The governor was widely perceived as making a case for himself as the 2016 nominee, but his BIMBO statement makes the listener wonder, what if the party is stupid?)

The New York Times, “The Past’s Future Republicans,” Aug. 17, 2013

“I have no tax delinquency problems,” said U.S. Senate candidate Matt Bevin, who is challenging Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in the primary. (But wait! This isn’t the BIMBO you think it is, although Tea Party-backed Bevin did provide the McConnell campaign with a perfect sound bite. The comment is in an ad run by the McConnell campaign. The ad charged that Bevin owed taxes both for a company he took over in 2008 and on a vacation home in Maine. However, PolitiFact.com investigated both claims and rated them “mostly false.” The town manager where the company is located credited Bevin with saving the company and resolving the tax problems caused by the downturn in the economy when the company was under different management. The taxes due on the home in Maine were left unpaid when his mortgage bank collapsed and was purchased by PNC Financial Services, which then cleared the taxes due. Poor candidate Bevin needs to learn to play in the big leagues but the minority leader’s twisted attack is certainly at odds with the word leader.)

 Tampa Bay Times, “Mitch McConnell tags Kentucky primary opponent as tax delinquent,” Aug. 5, 2013

“I am not a war criminal,” wrote Sydney Leathers, the young woman caught sexting with former representative turned mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, in a long blog post about how to seduce a politician. (This is a must read. Not only is Leathers capable of humor – “For me, Anthony Weiner was a weird science experiment” – it’s a terrifying commentary on contemporary life. It will also make you wonder how Weiner could claim with a straight face to be “reformed” since Leathers thoughtfully includes lots of actual texts from Dangr33. Her top ten list on how to seduce a politician notes that “some people are going to brand you as an evil home wrecker,” but that’s okay if you just “keep your head up no matter what people think of you.” Click here for the entire commentary. Weiner’s campaign made more headlines when its communications director, Barbara Morgan, gave an interview filled with profanity-laced commentary attacking a former intern who wrote about her experience on the campaign. The director trashed the intern, accused her of incompetence and worse, but the most amazing part of this story is that Morgan, who grudgingly apologized, claimed she thought the interview was “off the record.” Really? And she’s the communications director? No wonder this campaign has one problem after another.)

XO Jane, “Anthony Weiner’s sexting partner Sydney Leathers reveals her 10 secrets for seducing a politician,”Aug. 6, 2013

ABC News, “Anthony Weiner’s Aide’s Foul Mouth Attack on Ex-intern,” July 1, 2013

“We don’t snoop on customers,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe when it was revealed that the U.S. Postal Service photographs all 160 billion pieces of mail each year and stores them for a month. (Wow! The U.S. Postal Service created the program in 2001 when some elected officials and others received letters laced with deadly anthrax. It appears the program does have a use, but Donahoe fell into the trap of competing with his own message.)

MSN, “Why Postal Service photographs all of our mail,” Aug. 3, 2013

“Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs please?” begged EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy while speaking at Harvard Law School. (We can’t when it’s happening daily. McCarthy spoke in support of the EPA’s determination to close down all coal-fired power plants. Note that the BIMBO comment makes it into the headline.)

Washington Examiner, “New EPA chief: ‘Stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs,” July 31, 2013

“I am not paranoid,” cried Chris Matthews on a riff where he accused Republicans of trying to “delegitimize” President Obama by calling him “a liberal leader” or “Obama” instead of “the president of the United States.” (Of course, we can never remember Matthews or any other journalist calling President Bush simply by the name “Bush” – or “Shrub.” But that was probably affectionate.)

Mediaite.com, “‘I am not paranoid,’: Matthew says GOP’ers calling Obama ‘Obama’ attempt to ‘Delegitimize’ him,” Aug. 20, 2013

“I don’t have a zero option,” said Army Gen. and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, insisting that pulling all troops out of Afghanistan next year is not on his list of options. “No one has asked me to prepare a zero option. I don’t recommend a zero option. So there is no zero option, but there could be a zero outcome…” (Isn’t this the moment when the character appears stage left and says “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much?” It’s the same outcome as other examples we’ve seen this month: the BIMBO comment becomes the headline.)

Washington Times, “Dempsey: No Zero Option,” July 29, 2013

“I’m not a toy,” said supermodel Kate Upton after landing the coveted cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. (It is really hard to feel sorry for her. Apparently someone is forcing – forcing – her to dress skimpily and pose in a beautiful setting while collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars. And again, the BIMBO becomes the headline.)

CBS News, “Kate Upton: ‘I’m not a Toy, I’m a Human,’” Aug. 8, 2013

Claiming last month he “broke no laws,” Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell ’s denial made news again as additional revelations surfaced about gifts and loans to the governor’s wife and children, including high-profile items like a $10,000 Rolex. (The governor paid for or gave back the dicey goods. What’s missing from the story is any recognition by the governor that the loopholes, which allow gifts to spouses, kids and jointly-owned businesses, are not up to the ethical standards McDonnell and conservatives claim they represent. It shows McDonnell as greedy and stupid because these examples always come out. Remember Sen. Edwards and his love child?) 

USA Today, “Gifts to Virginia governor expose lax state laws,” Aug. 8, 2013

“I want to make it clear, once again, that America is not interested in spying on ordinary people,” said President Obama at a news conference where he tried to deal with the ongoing controversy over the discovery that the NSA is routinely collecting information.  (The conference was filled with poorly phrased comments, complaining that the news coverage was creating the impression that the U.S. “is out there willy-nilly just sucking in information on everybody and doing what we please with it.” He also claimed, “I don’t have a bad personal relationship with Putin,” when in fact there is no relationship with Russia’s strongman. The Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto wrote, “the statement violates the BIMBO principle: repeating negative words only reinforced the negative message as well as misses the opportunity to convey the right message to the reader or listener. If the idea that the U.S. government may be interested in spying on ‘ordinary people’ hadn’t occurred to you before, Obama has now put it in your head.” Note that the “spying” line also makes it into the headline.)

ABC News, “Obama touts NSA Reforms: ‘America is not interested in Spying on Ordinary people,” Aug. 9, 2013

The Wall Street Journal, “This is not Rosa Parks,” Aug. 12, 2013

“Not a crisis but a transition,” is how Australian Treasurer Chris Bowen described the country’s finances. (Obviously, Mr. Bowen should have avoided the word “crisis” and simply said, “The appropriate description of our situation would be as a transition.” It’s nice to see that politicians from other countries make the same mistakes. And, the BIMBO comment becomes the headline.)

Sydney Morning Herald, “Not a crisis but a transition,” Aug. 2, 2013

POWER OF WORDS

Not exactly a traditional BIMBO, but an example of the power of a word to create an issue. The word is “crush” and here’s what happened: Commander of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos ordered Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser to “crush” military personnel who were accused of urinating on Muslim prisoners and to make sure they were court-martialed. Later, Gen. Amos claimed in a sworn statement that he had never intervened in the cases. However, Gen. Waldhauser issued his own sworn statement confirming Gen. Amos did indeed direct Waldhauser to “crush” the accused Marines. Remember, we pick up and repeat each other’s words. As we’ve said so often, think and rehearse before speaking. Identify “bad” words because they can come back to haunt you.

Washington Times, “Top Marine accused of interfering in cases,” Aug. 15, 2013

Here’s another example of words coming back to haunt speakers. The Department of Justice sued to block the merger of American Airlines and US Airways, claiming the merger will lead to higher fares and fees. Their expert? US Airways President Scott Kirby. Years ago, in explaining whether airline consolidation leads to higher fares, Kirby said, “Three successful fare increases- [we are] able to pass along to customers because of consolidation.”  US Airways CEO Doug Parker is quoted asking whether “rationalization” (translation: mergers) would truly be “the last major piece needed to fully rationalize the industry.”  (The lesson from this is to remember that words live forever. The two airlines might have thought to see what their leaders had said in the past.  They should have looked for a way to get ahead of this and manage the contradiction.)

Dallas Business Journal, “Oh, the irony! Airlines’ own statement lead to lawsuits against AA-US Airways merger,”Aug. 14, 2013

ONE OF THE WORST INTERVIEWS EVER

One of the worst interviews ever was given by a candidate for Australia’s Liberal Party, immigration lawyer Jaymes Diaz, who launched his campaign by announcing he had a six-point plan to “stop the boats” of asylum seekers. The reporter asked what the other five points were, but Diaz couldn’t remember, even though he was clutching his campaign brochure. For six painful minutes, the reporter kept asking, “What are the other five points?” and Diaz kept repeating, “We’ll stop the boats.” Completing the visual, two supporters flanking him were initially upbeat, progressively more somber and eventually intervened. A good lesson on why rehearsal is crucial.

Sydney Morning Herald, “Diaz and confused: candidate misses the points,” Aug. 6, 2013

WRONG THING TO SAY

A Republican Political Action Committee (PAC) is claiming “credit” for an online game that encourages people to virtually smack former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Revoltingly called “The Hillary Project,” the site advertised itself to reporters asking if they had “slapped Hillary today?” (The obnoxious premise is that viewers should slap Clinton to prevent her from becoming the next president. Predictably, women’s groups were outraged. Missing from the reports we saw were Republicans and conservatives joining in to note this effort is not only misguided and disrespectful, it’s stupid. It’s guaranteed to make negative news and it competes with the opportunity to explain what limited government and economic opportunity truly mean.)

Raw Story, “Republican Super PAC encourages people to slap Hillary with crude online game,” Aug. 6, 2013

“Abel, put that camera down right now! Abel, you’re fired. Out,” was how AOL CEO Tim Armstrong fired Abel Lenz, creative director for Patch, AOL’s beleaguered local news service. Armstrong called the meeting to discuss the depth of challenges facing Patch when Lenz apparently began recording the event. (How not to win friends and influence people? What a terrible example of C-suite leadership. A day or so later, Armstrong sent around an internal memo saying he had apologized to Lenz while still trying to defend the firing by saying Lenz had been told not to make recordings and would not be hired back. That memo and another recording of the actual firing were predictably leaked to external media. With so little understanding of communication and the news media, it’s no wonder that any organization Armstrong leads is in trouble.)

The New York Times, “AOL Chief Apologizes Over firing of Worker,” Aug. 13, 2013

“Is Pfc. Manning somebody who is a traitor, has no loyalty to his country or the flag and who wanted to systematically harvest and download as much information as possible for his true employer?”  This charge comes not from the prosecution but from Bradley Manning’s own lawyer, David Coombs. (Where’s Vinnie Gambini when you need him?)

The Wall Street Journal, “Defense Lawyer Cites Manning’s Sense of Duty,” July 27, 2013

In an internal memo announcing 100 layoffs from FAB, an online design store, CEO Jason Goldberg wrote, “You’re not being laid off, you’re getting the opportunity to start your new job search immediately.” (Again, predictably, this announcement was shared with outsiders. When people lose their jobs, it’s not funny.  The company should have talked to employees in small groups, which is much more respectful than a mass memo. Depending on the actual facts, we hope that FAB could have said they were providing counseling and severance and thanked employees for their contribution.)

Business Insider, “FAB CEO Uses Ludicrous Euphemism When Laying Off Employees,” Aug. 6, 2013

SOCIAL MEDIA EXAMPLES

Shea Allen, a reporter for ABC’s affiliate WAAY in Huntsville, Ala., shared a little too much on her personal blog, including her top ten confessions. Included on her list was a confession that she’s “gone braless during a live broadcast,” and “I’m frightened of old people and I refuse to do stories involving them or the places they reside.” Moving from the stupidity to the illegal, she blogged, “I’ve stolen mail and then put it back (maybe).” (Once when I said I was surprised by something, Lisa Drew, Alex Haley’s editor and literary icon, replied, “The only thing that’s surprising is that you’re still surprised.” Nonetheless, we admit to being surprised that a news reporter would fail to recognize that anything she blogged would be scrutinized. Also, her fear of “old people” is hardly a confirmation of fair and balanced journalism. She did have one legitimate observation, noting, “On the one hand, management wants you to exploit every social media site you possibly can, put as much content out there, drive to the web, drive to the web. And then on the other hand, I’ve done something in my personal time on the web, a personally designated space and I’ve been terminated for it.” While we sympathize, it’s another example that there is no bright line between domains. As President Carter said, “Life isn’t fair.”)

TIME, “Reporter Who Admitted working ‘Bra-less’ is Surprised She Got Sacked,” July 31, 2013

“Keep this off social media PLEASE!” wrote former football player and accused murderer Aaron Hernandez in a letter from jail to a supporter who wanted to offer words of encouragement. (The letter itself is weepy and self-promotional saying, “I’ve always been a great person an (sic) known for having an amazing heart!” This is yet one more example that something sensational will find its way from person-to-person to the media and today’s social media amplifies that immediately.) 

Dead.Spin.com, “Read a letter Aaron Hernandez wrote from jail,” Aug. 1, 2013

“Should Reddit Be Blamed for the Spreading of a Smear,” was a cover story in The New York Times Magazine. It’s worth reading and circulating. In brief: In the hours after the Boston Marathon bombings, a Reddit user found the grainy photos of the two suspects captured on security tapes and compared one with a young man named Sunil Tripathi, who had been missing. Although the man in the picture later turned out to be Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Reddit users and journalist furthered the rumors and quickly speculated through Twitter that Tripathi was “indeed” the second suspect. His family was bombarded with calls, hate mail and cascading problems. The group helping in the search for Tripathi pulled out and told the family they didn’t help terrorists.  A few days later, Tripathi’s body was pulled from the Providence River. The post mortem includes some participants who were genuinely sorry for the part they played in hounding the young man and others who insist this is just the way the world is now. The story is definitely worth reading as an example of what we need to be prepared for today.  

The New York Times Magazine, “Should Reddit Be Blamed for the Spreading of a Smear,”  July 25, 2013

UNUSUALLY THOUGHTFUL SELF-EXAMINATION

“Woman Falls 17 Stories to her Death: AP Implies She Deserved It.” In an unusually candid examination of the media’s bias and preference for sensationalism, Slate magazine took a routine Associated Press story, criticized it and rewrote it. In a memorable encapsulation of all that’s wrong with the media today, Slate writes, “The minor details that journalists choose to include or exclude from their reporting are one of the many subtle ways that oppressive gender norms are perpetuated.” The Slate story objected – properly – to the AP’s characterization of the dead woman, but the sentiment about what’s included or excluded is right on target.

Slate,“Woman Falls 17 Stories to her Death: AP Implies She Deserved It,” Aug. 2, 2013



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