Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for December 2011

  • Bimbo
  • December 1, 2011
  • by Spaeth Communications

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Happy Holidays! Take time this month to click through to the Full BIMBO for more examples. You’ll see who described concerned citizens as “insurgents” and of course, more politicians with their feet in their mouths. There’s the bizarre comment from former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer and  you can read more about what we think by clicking through to our “Early Lessons from Penn State” commentary. There’s a brow raising statement from a shipbuilding company CEO, and scare tactics from a coalition of environmental groups.  Ann Coulter is our “Wrong Thing to Say” winner. The CBS political director accidentally hits “reply all” and there are good and bad Twitter examples. See the statement from the global industry group handling the infamous credit default swaps designed to “ensure understanding.” This month, we give Bill Gates a thumbs up for refusing to take the bait and react to nasty things Steve Jobs said about him in the posthumously published biography by Walter Issacson.


“It certainly wasn’t a sham,” Kim Kardashian’s mother, Kris Jenner, told the “Today Show” about her daughter’s 72-day marriage to Kris Humphries. (She got the spelling wrong. The question should have been, “Was it a shame?”)

Today Show, “Kim Kardashian’s mom says wedding ‘wasn’t a sham.’” Nov. 2, 2011


“This is not a political decision,” said State Department spokeswoman Kerri-Ann Jones about President Obama’s choice to delay the decision about the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election. (Amazing how people can say these things with a straight face.)

The Wall Street Journal, “U.S. Puts Oil Pipeline on Hold,” Nov. 11, 2011

“This is not a fishing expedition,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) about the House Energy subcommittee’s vote to subpoena a very broad array of documents from the Obama administration about the bankrupt solar manufacturer Solyndra. (We repeat, how can people say this with a straight face?)

USA Today, “Energy panel seeks White House’s Solyndra documents,” Nov. 4, 2011

“Hydraulic fracturing isn’t nearly as dangerous as this report by a liberal group would have you believe,” said Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) in response to Common Cause’s report “Deep Drilling, Deep Pockets,” which finds that Barton was one of the top recipients of campaign contributions from the industry. (Barton continued saying, “There are gas wells near my home that have used the process. I would not have allowed it if I thought it put my family’s health or anyone else’s in danger.”  He should have limited himself to the second quote. By stating it “isn’t nearly as dangerous,” he puts the focus on the word “dangerous.” The topic should be the “safety” of the process and whether citizens trust the companies involved to do the right thing.)

Worth Star-Telegram, “Report details congressional donations by fracking lobby,” Nov. 10, 2011

“We are dealing with an insurgency,” said Matt Carmichael, manager of external affairs for Anadarko Petroleum, at an industry conference while discussing natural gas drilling via the hydraulic fracturing process known as “fracking.” (These industry spokespersons showed astonishing tone deafness. The sessions were recorded by an anti-fracking activist who cheerfully distributed the audio tape broadly. First of all, it was a mistake to refer to citizen and environmental groups opposed to or concerned about fracking as “insurgents.” The communications director for Range Resources bragged that they had several former military psychological operations people dealing with local groups and governments. Carmichael recommended participants download the Army-Marine Counterinsurgency Manual.  Next, responding to the negative publicity, another industry spokesman added, “There are no black helicopters here. No one’s rappelling down from a helicopter at three a.m. looking through people’s trash.” The spokesman did say, however, “We go to township meetings, and we hear what people have to say,” which should have been the first and only thing they said. Notice the sinister sounding “Military-Style ‘Psy Ops’” is picked up for the headline.)

“Oil Executive: Military-Style ‘Psy Ops’ Experience Applied,” Nov. 8, 2011


Joe Amendola, Jerry Sandusky’s lawyer, took a terrible situation and made it worse. “Showering with kids doesn’t make him guilty,” Amendola told the “Today Show,” speculating that the allegations about retired football coach Jerry Sandusky sexually abusing young boys could be attributed to people who might want to sue and cash in. “We have a bunch of people who have read the allegations, realize that there is a large university involved and there maybe is a lot of money involved in lawsuits.” Sandusky’s interview with Bob Costas included astonishing comments, such as admissions that he showered with young boys and was “horsing around,” and “I didn’t go around seeking out every young person for sexual needs that I’ve helped.”  When Costas asked him if he was “sexually attracted to young boys,” Sandusky repeated the words, “Sexually attracted? You know, I enjoy young people; I love to be around them. But no, I’m not sexually attracted to young boys.”  (One more time, we invoke Don Etling’s commandment, “You simply can’t communicate your way out of a situation you’ve behaved your way into.” Although Penn State has hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh to head an investigation, we see no indication that Penn State understands the systemic problems that allowed Sandusky to operate as he allegedly did. Notice that the “showering” line also made the headline. Finally, what was attorney Amendola thinking?)

Merrie wrote a more in-depth analysis of the Penn State situation.  Click here to read it.

Today Show, “Sandusky attorney: ‘Showering with kids doesn’t make him guilty,’” Nov. 15, 2011

“Transcript: Jerry Sandusky Interview,” Nov. 15, 2011

“We usually end up with several kinds of disputes with our customers over various issues,” said Mike Petters, CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, a shipbuilding company explaining the Navy’s decision to withhold five percent of payments for an almost $700 million contract because of management problems and the violation of 19 of the 32 rules required to deliver on time and on budget. (“Usually end up in disputes?” What kind of confidence does that give taxpayers? Particularly when Huntington, a company that spun off from Northrop Grumman last spring, was previously found to have violated contract requirements. Petters was speaking to analysts and may have forgotten that other audiences were listening. A spokesperson from the company told industry press, “We are working with our customers to improve our processes and believe that we will meet their expectations relative to cost and schedule management.” Mr. Petters should listen to his spokesperson.)

Inside The Navy, “New DOD rules prompt penalty,” Nov. 11, 2011

Here’s an example of scary words. A group of environmental and anti-business groups in a coalition called “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics” wants Johnson & Johnson to reformulate its baby shampoo to remove two chemicals, dioxane and quaternium-15. The coalition released a report with the sensational name “Baby’s Tub is Still Toxic” with a press statement describing the trace substances as “potentially cancer-causing.” (Johnson & Johnson issued a statement noting the shampoos are safe and adhere to standards in the U.S. and other countries. It also noted that the company was gradually phasing out the chemicals in question through a line of J&J products called “Naturals” that is available in the U.S. but is more expensive than other Johnson & Johnson product lines. This is another example of the environmental groups’ efforts to wrest the definition of safety away from the FDA and EPA by terrifying people with the names of chemicals and the bureaucratic terms describing cancer.)

Associated Press, “Groups push J&J on baby shampoo chemicals,” Nov. 1, 2011

“Our blacks are so much better than their blacks,” said author and commentator Ann Coulter attacking Politico for its coverage of the accusations that Herman Cain sexually harassed former employees of the National Restaurant Association. (Coulter was trying to make the point that African-American conservatives endure harsh criticism from the media that overlook similar transgressions or allegations against Democrats, but she was wrong to attack Politico. If people make allegations, the media has the responsibility to report them. True, one wishes they would do it less gleefully, but her comment was also insulting and inflammatory. She should have urged independents to candidly compare whether the achievements and self discipline of conservative figures like Michael Williams, Col. Allen West and yes, Herman Cain, are better role models for African Americans than simply a lot of government programs. Coulter could use her platform to make the timely case that we should assess government programs for more than good intentions and candidly examine whether they actually accomplish stated goals.)

Huffington Post, “Ann coulter on Herman Cain: ‘Our Blacks Are So Much Better than Their Blacks,” Nov. 1, 2011


“Let’s keep it loose though since she’s not going to get many questions and she’s nearly off the charts in the hopes that we can get someone else,” wrote CBS Political Director John Dickerson in response to an email from Michele Bachmann’s campaign asking if they wanted to interview her after one of the debates. (Unfortunately, Dickerson hit “reply all” and inadvertently sent the email to the Bachmann campaign as well as his colleagues at CBS. A reminder: take a second look before hitting “reply.”)

The New York Times, “A Finger Slips, and the Bachmann Camp Pounces,” Nov. 13, 2011


“How do you fire Jo Pa? As a hawkeye fan I find it in poor taste #insult #noclass,” tweeted Ashton Kutcher about Penn State coach Joe Paterno. Predictably, it set off a firestorm of protests that Kutcher was defending the football program that turned a blind eye to over a decade of alleged sexual molestation of young boys. (It’s the comments that followed that we’re interested in. When Kutcher realized what was behind the firing, he tweeted, “I could not be more remorseful for all involved in the Penn St. case. As of immediately I will stop tweeting until I find a way to properly manage this feed. I feel awful about the effort. Won’t happen again.” Kutcher announced he is turning his Twitter feed over to Katalyst, his PR company. With that he issued a thoughtful statement noting that Twitter “was a conversation” but had become “a mass publishing platform…more than a fun tool to communicate with people.” That generated even more reaction. Matt Honan of Gizmodo wrote, “People have loved you on Twitter precisely because you are a genuine voice. When you hand your words over to a soulless image management consultant you are betraying your fans.”  It’s an instructive example about the risks of immediate tweeting and what people have come to expect.)

Another instructive example comes from Kansas. After Gov. Sam Brownback spoke to a group of students during a visit at the State Capitol, 18- year-old, Emma Sullivan, tweeted “just made mean comments at Gov. Brownback and told him he sucked, in person #heblowsalot.” The tweet was passed around and found its way to the governor’s office and the school’s leadership. The student was asked to write a letter of apology. She refused publicly, and went from 60 Twitter followers to thousands. (Ms. Sullivan is confusing free speech with good manners. It’s her First Amendment right to express herself, but she demeaned herself and hurt future opportunities for other students to have face-to-face meetings with the state’s governor. She told NBC, “I don’t believe with the majority of the things that he is trying to pass, or like not letting pass.”  We’re with the school principal. She should apologize for her choice of language – and she can still register her disagreement. The strategic question: should the governor have ignored her given that recognition simply increases attention?)

“Teen Refuses to Apologize for Disparaging Brownback Tweet,” Nov. 28, 2011

For examples of Twitter being used well, see the flood of tweets from NBA players following the weekend announcement that a deal had been worked out. Maverick’s Dirk Nowitzki tweeted, “Nba is back? Great news today. I’m so happy for all our fans and all the people who work in and around the arenas. Go Mavs.”  And many other players issued heartfelt and genuine comments. There was lots of personality in the tweets, too. Eric Maynor wrote, “I got my job back……..Yesssssssss lol.”  (We like this example because it shows genuine engagement and because Twitter’s maximum 140 characters could accommodate the sentiments expressed. Being genuine and candid is the key to tweeting. If you come across as too corporate followers can tell and will disengage.)

Today, “Tweets fly after a tentative deal,” Nov. 28, 2011


If you’re looking for an example of why the world bankers and financial markets are in such trouble, look no further than a “clarification” statement issued by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) “to ensure an accurate understanding of how credit events are determined for credit default swaps [CDS] contracts.” What follows is an exercise in doublespeak. (Read the statement here.) As closely as we can decipher it, institutions buy credit default swaps as insurance, and many holders of Greek bonds bought CDS for that purpose. It seems clear that holders of Greek bonds will take a significant haircut. Will their insurance pay off? In financial parlance, the insurance only has to pay if it’s a “credit event,” and a group called the Determinations Committee (DC) determines whether a payoff is required. That group consists of five buyside firms and 10 dealers who sell insurance. Depending on the vote, sometimes additional legal review is involved and sometimes it’s not. Obviously, if the Greek bonds are significantly devalued, someone’s going to take a hit, but the DC initially ruled it’s not a credit event. The tortured reasoning is difficult to understand. Taken as a whole, it’s worth reading to understand how supposedly smart people created a world so complex that it’s impossible to understand and follow rules.

News Release, “ISDA Statement on CDS Credit Event Process,” Oct. 31, 2011


Bill Gates was interviewed following Steve Jobs’ death about comments in Walter Isaacson’s biography. The Jobs’ quote that attracted the most attention was, “Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas." Gates replied, “Over the course of 30 years we worked together, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things…None of that bothers me at all.”  He was gracious and refused to take the repeatedly offered bait.

Digital Trends, “Bill Gates responds to snipes from Steve Jobs biography,” Oct. 31, 2011

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