Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for August 2015

  • Bimbo
  • August 5, 2015
  • by Spaeth Communications

August bimbo nominees

We have examples galore this month! Politicians provide a good range, along with comments from Rachel Dolezal (who won’t go away), Ford Motor Company, Jerry Jones (we’re sorry, we love the Cowboys!) and the tech industry. Wrong Thing to Say examples come from the IRS, Planned Parenthood, Donald Trump’s lawyer, pop star Ariana Grande, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and ESPN’s Colin Cowherd.


“He has not been detained, arrested or charged with any crime or offense,” said Ron Elberger, attorney for Subway pitchman Jared Fogle. (Elberger’s comment wins because it’s a classic lawyer BIMBO comment. Police and post office inspectors raided Fogle’s house, seizing computers, after arresting an associate on child pornography charges. Although the lawyer is correct, the mere mention of the negative words was enough to cause Subway to sever its relationship with the man who became famous by eating his way from 425 pounds to 225. We hope Jared gets a new lawyer, one who will say, “Jared has made a contribution to Subway that no one else could make and deserves a chance to show his character is as strong as his leg muscles.”)

The Indianapolis Star, “Can Subway and Jared Fogle repair the damage?,” July 9, 2015


“There has been no illegal behavior on the part of American Airlines,” wrote CEO Doug Parker to employees following disclosure that the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating whether the four largest airlines colluded on ticket prices. (This was an internal letter to all employees that predictably leaked to the world. The phrase, which made the headline, came from a letter where Parker also wrote, “We appreciate that the simple disclosure of an investigation may cause some team members to wonder if their airline has done something wrong,” which is forthright, and “Transparency is rightly expected by all of our external stakeholders,” which is also excellent. He should have written, “We are confident all our actions will stand up to scrutiny and meet the levels of integrity expected of an American, global company.” Southwest, coming off better, told the media they would “fully cooperate, of course, in answering any questions.” The “of course” was a nice conversational touch.)

Dallas Business Journal, “American, Southwest: No collusion here,” July 10, 2015

“It’s not chickening out,” spat Bill Gross in an interview where he was asked, “What would you say, Bill, to somebody who accuses you…of chickening out of your own trades?” (A winner because it’s a classic BIMBO where the reporter suggested the negative word, and the other person repeated and denied it. The rest of his answer – what he did do and why – is very long and technical. However, he missed the opportunity to provide a summary headline. Listen to the whole interview and see if you think the quote should have been: “I’ve said that the Chinese market is a bubble. We traded more conservatively in other markets and that still worked out well for us.”)

BloombergBusiness, “Gross Didn’t Execute China Short Trade That He Suggested,” July 8, 2015

“I promise you that the one thing we will not compromise on is standards,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, trying to deflect concerns that opening the Marine Corps and its grueling combat jobs to women will change the nature of the legendary group that depends on its toughness. (Of course, they plan to degrade the standards. That’s why they fired Lt. Col. Kate Germano, who headed the female recruit training facility at Paris Island and made waves by refusing to allow women to be coddled. Their slogan used to begin with “the few...”)

USA Today, “Inclusiveness drive could change Marines’ core,” July 29, 2015

“It’s not a costume,” said former NAACP Spokane chapter president Rachel Dolezal about tanning her skin and changing the texture of her hair. (A repeat BIMBO nominee, Dolezal is a character straight out of “Through the Looking-Glass.” Remember the character who said words meant what he said they meant? We cannot advise what she could have said because she is self-delusional instead of inarticulate. And note the phrase made the headline.)

Time, “Rachel Dolezal Says Her Black Identity Is ‘Not a Costume,’” July 19, 2015

“We are not aware of any instance in which a Ford vehicle was infiltrated or compromised in the field,” said Ford after hackers from Wired magazine conducted a highly-publicized hack into a Jeep Cherokee’s computer system, causing it to skid off the road. (The whole story is a wake-up call; it’s scary, and we hope all the car makers are, at this moment, re-doing their computer systems. Ford’s comment, however, is hardly reassuring. They missed the opportunity to reiterate their commitment to safety as their top priority.)

USA Today, “Vehicles’ cyberware is open to infection,” July 24, 2015

“We did not in any way have collusion,” said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones when the “Boys” inked their deal with long-term holdout Dez Bryant and, seconds later, the Broncos did the same with Demaryius Thomas. (This was almost certainly a classic BIMBO where the question about “collusion” was asked and spit back in the response. Jones’ son Stephen did better on a radio show where he was asked if he was bothered by charges of “collusion.” He simply replied, “Absolutely not,” neatly conflating whether he was bothered or whether there had been collusion.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Jerry Jones: ‘We did not in any way have collusion’ with the Broncos,” July 15, 2015

“This was not an experiment or test,” said Facebook, after users wondered whether the company was conducting more psychological experiments when they offered users the ability to add rainbow filters to show support for the recent Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. (Facebook went on to say the profile pic filter was “Something which enables people to show their support of the LGBTQ community.” They should have left it there.)

Capitalism is Freedom, “If You Changed Your Facebook Pic to a Rainbow Flag, You May Have Fallen Into One BIG Trap,” July 1, 2015

“This isn’t a beauty contest between presidents,” said President Obama on a recent trip to Africa when questioned about how his administration’s commitment to the continent compared to that of his predecessor. (This is sort of an unfair quibble because the President praised the previous administration. He also noted that his focus on building power plants takes time.)

The Associated Press, “White House Notebook: Obama faces ‘family politics’ in Kenya,” July 25, 2015

“We’re not going to sit at the negotiating table forever,” said Secretary of State John Kerry in the midst of ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear capabilities. (No, he was going to cave long before “forever.” Leaving substance aside and looking only at the communication lessons, the denial made the headline. Kerry also added that the deal “isn’t open-ended.”)

Agence France-Presse, “Frustrated Kerry to Iran:  ‘We’re Not Going to Sit At The Negotiating Table Forever,’” July 10, 2015

“Last week’s announcement was not about any change to our vision and strategy,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella after a round of layoffs and announcements. (This is a good case study of how negatives usually drive out positives. Nadella also said, “for sure it was a change to our operating approach,” and, “I want to be able to think about our strategy, our innovation and progress as one.” That had to be the message Microsoft preferred. Note that, instead, the message of what they weren’t doing drove the headline.)

Puget Sound Business Journal, “CEO Nadella: Microsoft is not abandoning mobile phone market,” July 15, 2015

“I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time,” Hillary Clinton said in another fount of debate over emails sent from a private server she maintained at home while Secretary of State. (The latest flap was caused by a government inspector general’s discovery of four emails containing classified information out of a sampled 40 of the 30,000 total emails. This debate continues to smolder, so we stick to the communication lessons: the negative quotes become the headlines.)

Reuters, “Clinton: I did not send or get classified emails on private account,” July 25, 2015

“I’m not dismissive,” said Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., after protestors for the organization Black Lives Matter accused him of being insensitive to racial issues. (We’re with Sen. Sanders on this one. The issue has lost touch with reality and become a power grab about who is going to defend what’s really going on with race relations, racial progress and especially the role of law and order. Sanders got into a verbal shouting match with protestors at a Netroots Nation meeting. Of course, the comment made the headline.)

CNN, “Bernie Sanders: ‘I’m not dismissive’ of ‘Black Lives Matter,’” July 27, 2015

“We’re not desecrating,” said Aby J. Rosen about re-doing and renaming the iconic Four Seasons restaurant in New York, home of the original power lunch. (An example of competing with your own message, Rosen also said, “I think we are respecting and celebrating.” As much as we loved the Four Seasons, we agree it’s time for “a fresh look.”)

The New York Times, “The Four Seasons Space Gets a New, Younger Face,” July 24, 2015

“The vote is not a mandate against Europe,” insisted Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras after his countrymen voted “no” by a resounding 61 percent. (This exercise was bizarre. The deal on which voters were supposedly voting was pulled off the table. Soon after the vote was tallied, the EU refused to budge and the PM immediately threw his own hardline deal and his finance minister under the bus. This is also a story about how numbers shape a narrative. Stories keep repeating the billions Greece owes and the supposed cuts made, without including the important caveat of the increased burden on the private sector, a tax system that begs for cheating and a bloated, inefficient public sector.)

USA Today, “Greeks to Europe: NO,” July 6, 2015


“Courtesy disconnects” are what the IRS calls customer service hang ups after the switchboard gets overloaded. (This entry should be titled “Wrong Thing to be Called.” The IRS had an abysmal record of customer service this tax season. They answered 37 percent of taxpayer calls to customer service, with an average wait time of 23 minutes. They hung up on 8.8 million callers! The IRS attributed its failure to congressional underfunding, and we agree that’s a problem. The solution? For Congress to reform and drastically simplify the tax code. We haven’t seen a brigade of IRS employees on Capitol Hill urging this solution, and oh yes, there’s still that little matter of the campaign targeting conservative organizations asking for 501(c)(3) status.)

The Washington Post, “The IRS hung up on taxpayers 8.8 million times this year. And there’s more bad news about customer service,” July 16, 2015

“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact,” said Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical research, in a video by a pro-life activist whom she thought was a medical researcher. (Leaving aside the political and moral issue – which is hard to do – it’s a fascinating communication competition. In now five released videos, Planned Parenthood personnel discussed using ultrasound to guide forceps so they do not “crush” specific organs—clearly belonging to a human, whether you refer to it as a fetus or unborn baby. Planned Parenthood decided that the best defense was a scorching offense, so they’ve attacked the activists for selective editing and having a pre-disposed point of view.)

The Weekly Standard, “Planned Parenthood’s PR Firm: Harvesting Organs of Aborted Babies a ‘Humanitarian Undertaking,’” July 15, 2015

After the Daily Beast published a charge from Donald Trump’s divorce proceedings more than 20 years ago where Ivana Trump used the explosive word, “rape,” Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, defended his boss, saying, "You write a story that has Mr. Trump's name in it, with the word 'rape,' and I'm going to mess your life up." Trump's lawyer continued to threaten the reporter by saying, "Tread very f***ing lightly because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting." (Wow! Besides being the very wrong thing to say, it’s stupid to say these things to a reporter.)

Mother Jones, “Donald Trump’s Lawyer: Marital Rape Cannot Be Rape,” July 27, 2015

“He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” said businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, attacking Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who earlier said that Trump was riling up the “crazies” by calling Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists. (Trump was way over the line. He has become addicted to being on television. We, too, consider Sen. McCain a political compromiser who has outstayed his welcome in Washington, but that’s a strategic disagreement over how to effect policy changes. McCain was shot down and endured real torture, refusing to free himself when his captives offered him a deal. He is definitely a war hero.)

The New York Times, “Donald Trump Says John McCain Is No War Hero Setting Off Another Storm,” July 18, 2015

“I hate Americans, I hate America,” said pop star Ariana Grande on security camera footage at Wolfee Donuts as she and a companion licked the donuts on the counter. When the video became public, Grande issued one of the worst-ever faux apologies, claiming she was just upset at childhood obesity. After a number of rambling and entirely unconvincing sentences, she delivered the predictable, “I apologize if I offended anyone.” We’re with Mashable, which observed in disbelief that one would assume “respect for hygiene and common sense will kick in,” but apparently not. And, when apologizing, don’t caveat it with “if” you have offended anyone:  that’s why you’re apologizing! The final piece of this crazy tale: the county health department is investigating – the donut shop! Not Grande. The owner was replacing donuts on display with fresh ones and went to the backroom to get a donut type demanded by Grande, leaving her alone with the unguarded donuts. Only in California.)

Mashable, “Ariana Grande loves licking donuts that aren’t hers, hates America,” July 8, 2015

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., was on a radio show criticizing liberals for putting their own kids in expensive private schools while denying poor kids trapped in failing public schools similar opportunities. He sarcastically said, “They just don’t want to let those idiot inner city kids that they purport to be so supportive of…they don’t want to give them the same opportunity their own kids have.” (Predictably, the phrase “idiot kids” became a story and the headline.)

The Washington Post, “Sen. Ron Johnson regrets referring to ‘idiot inner city kids,’” July 23, 2015

“You don’t think a general manager can manage? Like it’s impossible? The game is too complex? I’ve never bought into that, ‘Baseball’s just too complex.’ Really? A third of the sport is from the Dominican Republic,” said ESPN’s Colin Cowherd during a debate about whether other general managers could do what Marlins’ Dan Jennings has done. (Oops. Guess who got mad? MLB and a number of players from the Dominican Republic. Result? Cowherd has been pulled from the air. Our attitude? It was a dumb, thoughtless, stupid thing to say but taking offense at what people say has gotten out of hand. While ESPN was right to discipline him, the whole thing should have been handled with humor.)

USA Today, “Colin Cowherd no longer with ESPN after offensive remarks,” July 25, 2015

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a crying young refugee who wanted to be granted asylum, “Politics can be tough.” (We applaud her honesty in telling people who seek asylum that the country couldn’t take everyone – but, think of how it sounds. We’re always blithering about who’s the audience, and for a chancellor, there are multiple audiences, including – everybody! Probably better to remember Bill Clinton’s “I feel your pain,” to indicate that she understands the basic human instinct and desire for safety, stability and opportunity. And of course, it made the headline.)

BloombergBusiness, “Merkel Tells a Crying Asylum Seeker ‘Politics Can be Tough,’” July 16, 2015

In the special category of wrong thing to do and right thing to say: after a driver stopped to video a horrific accident and the death of a teenager in the car without calling 911 or trying to help, a local police department issued this statement: “The Lorain Police Department would like to remind citizens that they are allowed and encouraged to help one another in emergencies if they can do so safely, and that rendering aid or comfort to a dying young man and his severely injured friend is a commendable and kindly act. Persons are not, however, allowed to trespass into a person’s vehicle criminally and without permission for the seemingly singular cause of filming a young man’s dying moment, for profit.” (Congratulations to the Lorain Police. We hope the public picks up on this positive example.)

The Washington Post, “Ohio Man Filmed a Fatal Car Crash Instead of Helping,” July 16, 2015


The example in statistics this month comes from the story about an F-16 fighter jet hitting a small single engine plane in the skies over South Carolina. “These (crashes) are very rare. Military aircraft and civilian aircraft are not usually flying in the same airspace,” said Lt. Jenny Hyden. (Not reassuring. “Very rare” and “not usually” still confirm it happens. Remember, in these situations, the quote should always be about the goal of safety.)

USA Today, “2 Killed as F-16, Cessna Collide Over S. Carolina,” July 8, 2015


After promoting Prime Day as a competitor to Black Friday, Amazon triggered an avalanche of complaints on Twitter stating that the deals were limited, evaporated and didn’t live up to the hype. While this backlash showed the ability of the consumer to vent, in this case, Amazon didn’t care.

CNN Money, “Angry Amazon customers vent over sale fail,” July 15, 2015

After Donald Trump declared his candidacy, he tweeted a photo collage with the caption “#MakeAmericaGreatAgain.” The soldiers in part of the picture turned out to be Hitler’s Waffen-SS. Oops. The Trump campaign took the pictures down pronto, but the damage was done, and of course, the original tweet lives on.

Adweek, “Internet Sleuths Prove Donald Trump Used an Image of Nazi Soldiers in a Patriotic Tweet,” July 15, 2015

Tweets are for more than keeping up with your favorite TV show. Technology company iSentium analyzes a million tweets per day from traders and other Wall Street types to see what stocks look hot. Other companies have jumped into the space. The link below is an important article for people who still haven’t grasped how Twitter is changing the big picture.

The Wall Street Journal, “Tweets Give Bird’s Eye View of Stocks,” July 6, 2015


A great example of seizing opportunities comes from Reade Fahs, CEO of America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses. He responded to the discovery that the “E” in Scott Walker’s presidential campaign logo is the same as the “E” in his company’s logo. Fahs told media, “We’re a one-issue company. Our one issue is ultra low-cost eyeglasses and eye exams and contact lenses.” Good job on his part getting his company’s message out and taking advantage of the free advertising.

NPR, “Logo Or No Go? When Campaign Logos Look A Little Too Familiar,” July 15, 2015

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