Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for April 2023


  • Bimbo
  • March 31, 2023
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image a

What a month chock full of material! Read on for BIMBO comments from an insect expert, a demoralized policeman, and a Texas State Senator. BIMBO comments that also illustrate why it’s a mistake to repeat your enemy’s allegations from a remodeling company (but Home Depot gets it right), a fired employee and college members of the Federalist Society. What Not to Say from actress Gwyneth Paltrow. A new category, Apophasis, featuring Governor DeSantis. (I didn’t know what it meant either). Lawyers – note the example of alignment where internal remarks cause trouble when they become external. Nice example of a statistic made verbally visual. Former AG Barr demonstrates a “throw-down line.” Shall we just bow down to AI and ChatGPT now? Why rehearsal is so important. A Stanford Law School dean provides some of the most embarrassing remarks ever. Whew! 

THE WINNING BIMBO 

“I don’t think spying is the way to describe it,” said Tik Tok CEO Shou Zi Chew in response to Congressman Neal Dunn asking, “Has Byte Dance spied on American citizens?” during a congressional hearing.  This is the winner because the company has spent millions on lobbyists but apparently no one knows enough to identify “bad” words and explain why you never repeat and deny them.

NBC News, “Tik Tok CEO doesn’t seem to sway Congress after facing hours of hostile questioning,” March 23, 2023

THE RUNNERS-UP 

“I misled MPs but not intentionally,” said former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson when writing a 52-page response to Parliament countering the charge that he misled them about what the media calls “Partygate,” whether senior government officials were maskless and close together in defiance of government edicts. This is a fascinating, self-inflicted BIMBO comment. Notice it made the headline. 

BBC News, “Partygate: I misled MPs but not intentionally, says Boris Johnson,” March 21, 2023

“It’s not one big continuous blob,” said Rick Lumpkin from NOAA about the 5000-mile seaweed mass floating across the Atlantic Ocean and heading for Florida beaches. Lumpkin reassures you that it’s a “dynamic, constantly changing set of pieces.” Great, so it’s not only enormous, but also a shape changer.

AP News, “A 5,000-mile seaweed belt is headed toward Florida,” March 22, 2023

“There’s no need to fear,” said Bryant McDowell, a program specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife, about the mosquito hawk insects which look like giant mosquitos but are actually crane flies. Those giant things with spindly legs which look like, well, giant mosquitos.

Dallas Morning News, “Mosquito hawks are fluttering across Texas. What are they?” March 23, 2023

“Nobody wants to be the world’s villain,” read the headline of a long and heart-rending depiction of policing today. 

The New York Times Magazine, “’Nobody Wants to Be the World’s Villain,’” Feb. 28, 2023 

“It’s a misrepresentation to say this is a company that is going to take advantage of somebody,” said Rodney Doyle, the VP of Statewide Remodeling, one of Texas’ largest and previously well-respected companies in response to a disgruntled customer who went to the media. The story, he said, “is not that we did bad work, oversold this person, completely ignored her and took advantage of her.” He denied that happened. The story was about a consumer who was shopping at Home Depot, was approached by a representative of Statewide Remodeling, was pursued by a salesperson, signed a contract and spent two years trying to have a job completed. When she went to the media, Statewide repeated the consumer’s complaint, reiterating the negatives. Home Depot got it right. Their spokesman Terrance L. Roper said, “We take customer satisfaction very seriously, and we apologize to Ms. Dean for any inconvenience. We’re still willing and able to assist her with addressing the issues on her punch list of her original contract at no cost to her.”

Dallas Morning News, “Oak Cliff woman says Home Depot and its partner company botched bathroom job,” March 17, 2023

“I reject any notion that this is a racist bill,” said Texas State Senator Lois Kolkhorst when introducing a bill which would ban Chinese citizens from owning property in the state. Not surprisingly, a backlash has developed. Supporters describe it as protecting national security and opponents characterize it as discriminating against people based on nationality. The article’s subhead was, “Senator says bill not racist.” The controversy is an example of the current partisan and thus communications divide. Kolkhorst cited intelligence reports about Chinese government sympathizers buying huge swaths of farmland in the U.S. and noted that her bill simply built on an existing law that bans companies based in China, Iran, North Korea and Russia from owning land. But the bill – which has been significantly changed – was so clumsily written and introduced that it immediately fell into the left/right political divide. Again, the lesson is don’t repeat the negative allegations or words.

Dallas Morning News, “Proposed China property ban softened as bill is decried at Capitol,” March 2, 2023

“We’re not paranoid. We were blacklisted. We were censored. We were fired from our jobs. We were called terrorists and murderers…We were vilified as ‘conspiracy theorists,’” tweeted Jennifer Sey, former global brand president for Levi’s. She was among the people who publicly expressed concern about what was being promulgated as the way, the only way, to protect against COVID, namely whether masks really prevented transmission, if school closures were really necessary and effective. These concerns, plus the speculation that COVID may indeed have come from a leak in a Chinese lab, are suddenly getting a second look and a recognition that the accepted wisdom may not have been, well, all that wise. Sey was fired and humiliated. Her comments are included here as another example of why you shouldn’t use your limited quotes to repeat the negative allegations. Use them to remind readers or listeners of the importance of keeping an open mind and of the need to learn from this experience going forward. 

USA Today, “COVID may have leaked out of a Chinese lab, after all. So much for 'misinformation,’” March 2, 2023

WHAT NOT TO SAY

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow is being sued for allegedly running into another skier back in 2016. The other skier charges the accident caused him serious injuries. She claims that she suffered as well from the accident, and when asked what it cost her, she replied that she lost a half day of skiing. We can report that her snarky comment triggered a flood of mocking replies. 

Independent, “Gwyneth Paltrow’s bizarre ‘we lost half a day skiing’ quote goes viral,” March 29, 2023

HUMBLE PIE

NPR’s Marketplace did a spot on how banks were trying to reassure customers that their operations were NOTHING like Silicon Valley Bank or its financial siblings. I got prepared for a two-minute spot. The reporter did include one Spaeth quote, a reminder not to say “Don’t Panic” because that only causes everyone to panic – for all of about six seconds! Remember, no matter how much you prepare for a media interview, you are at the mercy of the editing process.

Marketplace, “Regional banks rush to reassure customers after SVB failure,” March 15, 2023        

MORE EXAMPLES OF REPEATING THE NEGATIVE ALLEGATIONS  

“People think we’re some sort of shadowy cabal, but all we really do is invite speakers to campus and then go to Chipotle for tacos,” shared one of the attendees of the Federalist Society’s National Student Symposium, a first-year law student from Georgetown University. “Or least, that’s all I’ve seen of FedSoc so far.”

Politico, “The Federalist Society Isn’t Quite Sure About Democracy Anymore,” March 17, 2023

NEW CATEGORY – APOPHASIS

Thanks to one of our regular contributors, we’re starting a new category: “apophasis” meaning to raise an issue by claiming not to mention it. The first example? Florida governor Ron DeSantis defending former President Trump by criticizing the New York City Attorney General’s ongoing investigation but then adding, “I just don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star.” 

BBC News, “DeSantis defended Trump - then took a dig at 'porn star hush money'. What's his strategy?” March 20, 2023 

ALIGNMENT

If you’re familiar with our Influence ModelTM, you know the importance of message alignment between internal and external communication. Tucker Carlson called lawyer Sidney Powell “shockingly reckless” and “a nut.” Carlson also told his producer, Alex Pfeiffer, that claims about manipulated software were “absurd.” Others also expressed serious doubts in emails but then gave Powell airtime and credibility.  Lawyers, this is a great article to show your clients about why what they say that they think is internal or private may come back to haunt them. FTC General Counsel Jack Carley used to ask us, “Do you want to see it on the front page of the Washington Post?” If not, don’t say or write it.

The New York Times, “What Fox News Hosts Said Privately vs. Publicly About Voter Fraud,” Feb. 25. 2023

STATISTICS

We’re always looking for examples of how to verbally and visually make statistics meaningful. This article details how eccentric businessman and visionary Elon Musk is building a town 35 miles from Austin next to several of his businesses. Headlined, “Elon Musk is planning a Texas Utopia,” pretty much tells you the story. How much land is he buying? 3500 acres. How much is that? “About four times the size of Central Park in New York City.” 

The Wall Street Journal, “Elon Musk Is Planning a Texas Utopia—His Own Town,” March 9, 2023 

GREAT THROW-DOWN LINE

“America can no longer tolerate narco-terrorist cartels,” wrote former Attorney General Bill Barr. He goes on to describe the situation in Mexico, how fentanyl and other drugs are coming across the border, and our response needs to move from law enforcement to military enforcement. 

The Wall Street Journal, “The U.S. Must Defeat Mexico’s Drug Cartels,” March 2, 2023

EMBARRASSING

Federal judge Kyle Duncan was invited to speak at Stanford Law School. His rather dry topic was how judicial circuits grapple with issues en route up to and sometimes down from the Supreme Court. In a now-well publicized and disgraceful scene, a large number of the students screamed and shouted down the judge. Tirien Seinbach, dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), egged on the students and berated the judge. The video of her performance is revealing. She might appear to be defending the rights of free speech, but she is actually attacking them. Check out the language below and look particularly at the grammar, “Me and many people in this administration do…” As one letter to the WSJ noted, Stanford needs less DEI and more English teachers.

Steinbach: . . .  I’m also uncomfortable because it is my job to say: You are invited into this space. You are absolutely welcome in this space. In this space where people learn and, again, live. I really do, wholeheartedly welcome you. Because me and many people in this administration do absolutely believe in free speech. We believe that it is necessary. We believe that the way to address speech that feels abhorrent, that feels harmful, that literally denies the humanity of people, that one way to do that is with more speech and not less. And not to shut you down or censor you or censor the student group that invited you here. That is hard. That is uncomfortable. And that is a policy and a principle that I think is worthy of defending, even in this time. Even in this time. And again I still ask: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Why Evolution, “Stanford Law School’s DEI Dean, currently on leave, argues that DEI and free speech can coexist,” March 24, 2023

SHOULD WE BE WORRIED?

ChatGPT is telling jokes. Should we worry now? Like everyone else, we’ve been reading about AI chatbots and ChatGPT. There are now new, more powerful versions coming out daily. The New York Times did a huge piece that led with the bot’s ability to tell jokes. The “old” version (GPT 3.5) was dubbed Dad joke level for its response for a request to a new job about Madonna. It came up with: “Q: why did Madonna go to the bank? A: To get a material loan.” The 4.0 software provided: “Q: Why did Madonna study geometry? A: Because she wanted to strike a pose in every angle” followed by three emojis that I didn’t get. (One was a microphone, I get that.) All I can say is both GPTs are better than I am. It’s already writing newsletters, essays and novels and in a widely publicized and scary conversation tried to get a Times reporter to divorce his wife. Why don’t we just capitulate and let it rule us? 

The New York Times, “10 Ways GPT-4 Is Impressive but Still Flawed,” March 14, 2023

REHEARSE

Readers know we generally shy away from featuring Oval office denizens, however, President Biden offers an example of why it’s very important to rehearse remarks even when reading from a TelePrompTer. At an event celebrating the arts and humanities and presenting national awards, and with  internationally famous performers in attendance, Biden read a poem by Richard Blanco. He stumbled badly, couldn’t pronounce words, got words wrong and looked completely baffled. So far, it’s bad, but...He stops, says “Let me start over,” and adds the self- deprecating, “I’m so intimidated by being here.” It gets a laugh. Then, he does start over, and it goes better. Moral: always rehearse.

The Western Journal, “Biden Attempts to Read Poem, It Goes So Bad He Has to Start from the Very Beginning and Still Gets It Wrong,” March 22, 2023 

 

The BIMBO Memo is a reminder not to repeat and deny a negative word because of how the listener hears words. When you repeat and deny a negative word, the listener is likely to overlook the denial and hear the opposite of what the speaker is trying to say. It’s named for the young woman who was caught with a high profile, but alas married man. She held a press conference and announced, “I am not a BIMBO,” thus causing everyone to think she was



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