Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for August 2021


  • Bimbo
  • August 2, 2021
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image e

This month we have several examples to learn from—see BIMBO comments from Megyn Kelly and the brother of a senior White House counselor. Negative words from (surprise) former President Trump and what former Attorney General Barr should have said. We also share two appearances from President Biden (one you’ll see on the global stage), assassinated Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, and a Haitian legislator. Interesting examples from Expedia, a New York Post headline (and video), and a crisis management firm in crisis. Last, a lovely “Best of the Web” column from James Freeman and an example from Exxon showing why consistency of message is important.

THE WINNING BIMBO 

“Facebook isn’t killing people,” said President Biden, after walking back his initial statement that, “They’re killing people.” Both the initial charge and the BIMBO denial, made multiple, ongoing stories. This was an unforced error. We agree with New York Times opinion columnist Farhad Manjoo that social media doesn’t deserve all the blame. We also suggest reading this column, which is the best piece on how the FDA miscommunicated because it thinks the public sees the situation through the FDA’s lens. 

The New York Times, “‘Facebook isn’t killing people’: Biden softens his attack over vaccine misinformation,” July 19, 2021 

THE RUNNERS-UP 

“We have not run away,” announced Texas House Democrats, through Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Dallas, as they decamped to Washington, D.C. in the middle of a special session. Whatever you think of the attempts to legislate rules for voting, the absent Democrats deserve an A+ for publicity but an F for communication and, in our opinion, truthfulness. 

The Dallas Morning News, “Texas House Democrats insist they’re maintaining momentum as special session reaches midway point,” July 23, 2021 

“We are not afraid,” said Amaury Pacheco, noted by The Wall Street Journal as “a poet and founder of the Movimiento San Isidro, a civil-rights group of dissident artists.” Pacheco was commenting in response to the protests of government restrictions in Cuba. We admire Pacheco for his tenacity and courage while we fear for his safety and the other thousands of protestors who have been marginalized. Pacheco added that, “the government only had brutal force left.” Alas that is very effective. The U.S. at the least should be enabling the Cuban people to communicate via the internet – which the Cuban government has disrupted, adding to its repertoire of oppression.

The Wall Street Journal, “‘We Are Not Afraid,’” July 15, 2021 

“It wasn’t an insurrection,” said former Fox News host Megyn Kelly about the events of January 6. Our position is that whether you label the event a riot or an insurrection, it was clearly the winner of the stupidest most self-defeating undertaking of 2021. 

Townhall, “Megyn Kelly’s Assessment of the January 6 Riot Definitely Brought Angry Liberals to Full Froth,” July 15, 2021 

“I do not lobby my brother, nor have I lobbied the White House this quarter,” said Jeff Ricchetti, brother to senior White House counselor Steve Ricchetti. This is what makes people so crazy about D.C. Everyone knows Jeff doesn’t have to “lobby” Steve; he just has to exist in the same town. Plus, the nit picking “this quarter” implies that there’s a lot in the other quarters. The article compares Jeff’s client base and billings pre- and post-brother appointment and surprise, they show “[a]fter years of stagnation, Mr. Ricchetti’s client list began to grow rapidly…” What could and should he have said? First, he shouldn’t have said what he did – for the reason just noted. He could have said, “I welcome the opportunity to develop effective strategies for my clients to explain to policy makers how their decisions affect companies in the real world.” 

The Wall Street Journal, “Lobbyist Jeff Ricchetti, Brother of Senior Biden Aide, Sees Bump in Fees, Clients,” July 21, 2021 

POWER OF NEGATIVE WORDS

Former President Trump called his former Attorney General Bill Barr a “swamp creature.”  Trump’s remarks were in response to an excerpt from “Betrayal,” a book authored by ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl, in which Barr described Trump's election fraud claims saying, “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit.” The book isn’t due out until November so we can expect this to make news again. We long ago gave up suggesting what President Trump should say, so we offer this only as an example (again) that negative words crowd out positive words. As for what Mr. Barr could and should have said: “When the president appointed me Attorney General, he called me a ‘highly respected lawyer’ and ‘a terrific man’ and those are the quotes I choose to remember.”

The Hill, “Trump calls Barr a ‘swamp creature’ over criticism of election claims,” June 29, 2021 

“I am not a dictator,” said Haitian president Jovenel Moïse earlier this year. The quote was reprised after his assassination on July 7. We include it as an example of how phrases like this take on a life of their own. While it is bad form to speak ill of the dead, we wish President Moïse had said, “My goal is to foster democracy and prosperity in this beautiful country.” As an aspiration, it might have guided him. Could we hope he would be alive today?

The New York Times, “He Went from Banana Exporter to President: ‘I Am Not a Dictator,’” July 7, 2021 

Illustrative of Haiti’s problems were remarks by a Haitian lawmaker living in multi-million-dollar mansion in Canada. When asked about the origin of the funds for the luxurious digs, Rony Célestin said, “I don’t have to be scared of a bunch of vagabonds, bastards and criminals.” Certainly not how to win friends and influence people. Célestin also claimed to have businesses that reporters couldn’t find, and to own a gas company, PetroGaz-Haiti although law makers aren’t permitted to have contracts with the state. This is another example where we have no suggestions about what could have been said except to remind readers of the parable of the tax collector who encountered Jesus and was so moved that he promised to refund four times the amount he had cheated.  We predict we’ll hear about Monsieur Célestin again.

The New York Times, “Who Paid for That Mansion? A Senator or the Haitian People?” July 10, 2021 

Claiming certain areas of the American infrastructure are “off limits” from cyber-attacks, President Biden put Russian President Putin on notice. This is an example of words defining public policy. Biden spoke in the response to recent cyber attacks in the U.S. on government agencies and corporations, widely thought to be sponsored by the Russian State. The phrase immediately drew comparisons to President Obama’s threat to Syria not to cross the “red line” and launch chemical attacks. Although Biden didn’t use the phrase, it was widely linked to “off limits” and Biden is now stuck with it. When President Obama didn’t follow through on the threat, many experts believe it seriously damaged the administration’s credibility.

The Wall Street Journal, “Putin Tests Biden’s Cyber Vow,” July 7, 2021 

MORE EXAMPLES

A story about a man who inexplicably started to receive bright blue 3-D printed replicas of singer Joe Jonas’ right hand posted the pictures online saying, “The bag said Expedia, so it wasn’t like the hand of death just arrived from FedEx.” It’s one of the better one-liners we’ve heard…although we admit we would have just this once left out the reference to FedEx. The actual story turned out to be that it was a marketing campaign by a travel booking company which was sending 3-D printed hands to “symbolize the support and reassurance Expedia aims to bring to travelers.” Given that they only mailed 550 hands, this would surely qualify as gaining the desired visibility.  

The Washington Post, “A man kept getting Joe Jonas’s hands in the mail,” July 6, 2021

Our favorite headline of the month; see video link below. Of course, he owns the place! He’s a gator!

New York Post, “Crocodile struts through town like he owns the place,” July 7, 2021 

What do you do if you’re a crisis management firm dealing with your own crisis? Declan Kelly, CEO of Teneo, got drunk at a “Vax Live” concert for Global Citizen and touched women without their consent. As a firm, the debate is always whether to share this proactively or wait to react. Kelly’s firm decided to wait and, unsurprisingly, an article was published about the incident. The fallout stemmed heavily from the firm’s and Kelly’s lack of pro-active management. “It wasn’t until late June after news reports about the incident, that Mr. Kelly told most of his staff about the matter and issued his public apology.” GM dropped the firm because Teneo didn’t tell them about Kelly’s behavior. The article also revealed the over-the-top monthly retainers of $250,000 Teneo was charging. Kelly’s own words at a webinar last October on crisis and how to manage it: “When you go back and look at the history of great leaders…it is always the things we recall the most are the way they responded in times of great crisis.” What’s the lesson here? It isn’t the choice between being pro-active versus re-active. It’s that no one was empowered to step in at the concert and tamp down the behavior. Additionally, when we do an assessment of crisis preparation, we always ask who is willing to stand up for you when something goes wrong and say, “I can’t speak to this particular allegation, but I can tell you what (name) has done with or for us.” That’s the huge missing part of this example. 

The Wall Street Journal, “The Rise and Fall of Teneo’s Declan Kelly,” July 2, 2021 

ARTICLES OF INTEREST

Wherever you are on the spectrum of wanting to support more in-depth education about the nation’s founding and place in history, take time to read this column from the Journal’s “Best of the Web.” It’s heart warming and a good education. 

The Wall Street Journal, “‘The Noblest, Happiest Page in Mankind’s History,’” July 2, 2021

“Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes. Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes, that’s true. But there’s nothing illegal about that. We were looking out for our investments,” said ExxonMobil lobbyist Keith McCoy. This month’s reminder that anyone can be a reporter and that it’s a mistake to say one thing to one audience and another to a different audience. McCoy was set up by Greenpeace U.K. activists posing as headhunters. McCoy was caught on Zoom implying that the oil giant was only mouthing words of support for green initiatives because it knew they would never come to fruition. Greenpeace released the tapes to Britain’s Channel 4 network and Exxon had to distance themselves from the comments. This is also a good example of how communication can have real, longer lasting impact. Note the follow-up article by The Hill that the lobbyist’s comments were causing activist groups to rally against Exxon. 

The Dallas Morning News, “Exxon lobbyist says company fought climate science in interview with undercover climate activist,” July 1, 2021 

 

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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