Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for July 2014

  • Bimbo
  • July 8, 2014
  • by Spaeth Communications

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Notice something different? Along with this month’s bumper crop of BIMBO comments, we are proud to introduce the new Spaeth Communications blog on our new website. We’ll continue to send a monthly BIMBO Memo to your inbox, but check out our blog throughout the month for commentaries and communication insights from Merrie and the rest of the team.

July BIMBO nominees include Slenderman’s creator, President Clinton (defending his wife, who made the “Wrong Thing to Say” category), Johnny Manziel, Sen. Claire McCaskill and a Georgia-Pacific vice president among others. We give thumbs up to a rare self-deprecating and funny use of a BIMBO comment from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. There are “Wrong Thing to Say” examples from an Indian official, Indiana Republican Richard Mourdock (again), Miss Universe Thailand, Yahoo’s CEO and many more. Christianity Today provides a good example of how to apologize and we also share two (bad) Twitter examples from Delta Airlines and an Italian official.


“I never said I’d provide you emails that we didn’t have,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifying in front of Congress. (The ongoing “dog ate my emails” controversy produces more lessons in how words can reveal the truth. Koskinen brought ridicule on himself when Lois Lerner and six other IRS employees suffered computer crashes that Koskinen failed to mention to either Democrats in Congress or the investigating House committee until specifically asked. Note that the denial makes the headline. The hearings triggered a BIMBO comment from software security firm Sonasoft that backs up some but not all IRS emails. Sonasoft’s CEO said, “The IRS Counsel did not use Sonasoft’s email archiving or backup software.” This was relevant because the IRS was involved in litigation and was required to archive relevant emails.)

The Hill, “IRS Commissioners: I didn’t mislead Congress regarding Lerner emails,” June 23, 2014


“Our goal is not to scare people,” said C.J. Grisham, founder of Open Carry Texas whose members have been going into family restaurants with long rifles and shotguns slung across their shoulders. (Well, they are scaring people. Even an NRA staffer took issue with Open Carry Texas until a reaction forced them to back off. The other problem with the BIMBO comment is that it overshadowed the phrase, “[it’s] to start a dialogue and educate them [the public] about the benefit of open carry.” That dialogue got lost. Note that the negative phrase became the headline.)

USA Today, “We aren’t trying to scare people,” June 10, 2014

“This wiki does not endorse or advocate for the killing, worship and otherwise replication of rituals of fictional works,” read a statement by the Horror Writers Association as controversy erupted after two incidents of young teens stabbing people to imitate fictional character Slenderman. The statement added, “We are not teaching children to believe in a fictional monster, nor are we teaching them to be violent.” (Spokespersons for Slenderman’s creator Eric Knudsen reinforced the “not violent” line. All these lines are the wrong message. Knudsen should be talking about creativity and imagination. The last time we checked, Macbeth was a tad on the violent side, too.)

Washington Times, “13-year-old Ohio girl stabs mother in 2nd ‘Slenderman’ attack,” June 9, 2014

“She’s not out of touch,” said President Clinton in reference to his wife. He sought to defuse the laughter and reaction to her claim that they were “dead broke” and struggled financially when they left office. (Secretary Clinton clearly was tone deaf ear during her interview with Diane Sawyer. She only succeeded in intensifying attention to her wealth and to whether she can identify with ordinary people. Notice that the “out of touch” and “dead broke” phrases made the headlines.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Bill Clinton Says Hillary Not ‘Out of Touch,’” June 24, 2014
CNN, “Hillary Clinton in 2001: We were ‘dead broke,’” June 9, 2014

“I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong,” said Texas A&M University star, now Cleveland Browns player, Johnny Manziel, adding “I’m not going to change for anybody. I’m going to enjoy my time off.” (The comments came in response to controversy over his partying. Manziel should listen to Dallas Cowboys great Emmitt Smith “I was young and dumb myself at one point in time, but maturity itself and maturing as a professional athlete is something that is required of every pro football player.” The rumor is that Manziel took all his classes online or with private tutors. He clearly missed some key lessons. As so frequently happens, note that the denial became the headline.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Browns owner reportedly tells staff to talk with Johnny Manziel; QB ‘not going to change for anybody,’” June 27, 2014

“We didn’t call this hearing to beat up on you,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-La., at a hearing where they were, yes, beating up on television personality Dr. Oz. (Dr. Oz is not our favorite person because of his attacks on apple juice, but he did have our sympathies as the senators mugged for the cameras. Check out the doctor’s facial expression as he listened. He looked like he didn’t want to be there, didn’t like the senators and didn’t project confidence. Learning how to lift the cheeks and look interested is a performance skill that we expect a television personality like Dr. Oz to have mastered.)

CNN, “Dr. Oz Under Fire Over Diet Scams,” June 17, 2014

“There is no criminal investigation going on and no charges or anything like that,” said Norman Wear, a GSA employee responsible for government intelligence agencies who was discovered to have made a secret trip to China last year. An investigation found multiple other violations but he’s right, no charges were filed. (This serves as just one more example of governmental lack of accountability.)

Washington Times, “Top GSA exec didn’t disclose China trip, old felonies,” June 9, 2014

“We’re not sitting back idly, like typewriters, VCRs or textbooks,” said Georgia Pacific Vice President Alex Volpe about the competition between paper towels and high-tech dryers. (Again, the spokesperson has delivered the wrong message. We prefer paper towels ourselves and agree with the Kimberly Clark’s spokesperson, Bob Brand, who got the message right when he said, “Anyone who has needed to wipe a chocolate mess off a child’s face is well aware of the limited capabilities of air dryers.”)

The Wall Street Journal, “Paper or Power: Nothing Cut and Dried About Hand Washing in Restrooms,” June 24, 2014

“Liberal is not a dirty word,” read a yard sign in Washington, D.C. (A reader snapped this picture and sent it to us. If anyone knows this household, enlighten them about BIMBO comments. And we agree, the original meaning of liberal thought was, in fact, a very positive word. Unfortunately, it has been hijacked along with the word ‘progressive’ to mean big government.)

Markets “are not fundamentally broken, let alone rigged,” said SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White during a speech. (White was addressing Michael Lewis’ new book “Flash.” At least the “rigged” comment didn’t become the headline.)

The Hill, “SEC Chief prepares new curbs on high-speed trading,” June 5, 2014

“I did not think there were secret lists,” protested Dr. Thomas Lynch, assistant deputy under secretary of Veterans Affairs, as the controversy over the denial of care and cover-up of the problem. (The Department of Veterans Affairs leadership has consistently gotten the message wrong, perhaps because they have no plan to change business as usual and no commitment to hold leadership at the top accountable. It’s very sad.)

Washington Times, “1,700 vets in VA scheme never would see doctors,” June 2, 2014

“We are not using child soldiers,” said Lui Runi Koany, a representative of the South Sudan rebels who are again recruiting child soldiers. (The article was accompanied by horrific pictures of young soldiers. There is no good side to this story. The government was also asked if the child soldiers were being recruited and Gen. Chaplain Khamis Edwards replied, “I cannot say yes or no.”)

New York Times, “In South Sudan, a Ghost of Wars Past: Child Soldiers,” June 8, 2014

“I do not believe, by the way, that Jill was fired because of gender,” said Dean Baquet, the new executive editor of the New York Times after his predecessor Jill Abramson was dismissed. (This was one of the messiest organizational restructurings we’ve seen. News and rumors about the changes, which Baquet himself described as top-level dysfunction, were complicated by Baquet’s comment, “I never said it’s me or Jill…I don’t think there’s any question that I made it known that I was a little unhappy.” Is he kidding? See Sheryl Sandberg’s TED Talk when she asks an audience if they’ve ever been called “bossy” at work. One or two men raise their hands but every woman raises their hand. Of course being a woman contributed to Abramson’s dismissal. We would have liked to try to coach her. A message to some journalists: just because you’re smart and well-read does not mean you don’t need leadership help.)

NPR, “’Period of Turmoil’ Preceded Abramson Firing, Says Top Editor At ‘Times,’” May 29, 2014

“In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers,” said Presbyterian (PCUSA) Convention Moderator Heath Rada about a vote to divest holdings in three companies because Israel uses their equipment building settlements in the West Bank. (How ridiculous. Of course this is an attack on Israel and the radicals will trumpet it. The anti-Israeli campaign is called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. We disagree with the settlement campaign, but anything that weakens support for the only democracy in the Middle East is short sighted political correctness run amok.)

New York Times, “Presbyterians Vote to Divest Holdings to Pressure Israel,” June 20, 2014


“Andrews Kurth is not accused of mishandling any task for the plaintiff. They are not saying that we committed malpractice in the way we handled their matters,” said Murray Fogler, attorney for Andrews Kurth. A former client is suing the law firm , complaining about their representation of imprisoned financial manipulator Allen Stanford. (Wrong, wrong, wrong. By repeating the negatives, Fogler only reinforces them. He should have said, “Andrews Kurth has a deserved reputation for integrity and we are confident the facts will show the firm acted properly.”)

Texas Lawyer, “$50 Million Andrews Kurth Legal Mal-Trial to Start June 9,” June 9, 2014

“This was not a race. This was not a person who took a chance and drove drunk. This is not about someone who was speeding and took a risky maneuver,” said Marc Labelle, attorney for Emma Czornobaj, who stopped on a highway to try to rescue some ducklings. Two people on a motorcycle ran into her car and were killed, and a jury in Montreal found her guilty. She potentially faces life in prison. (This is a sad story. We feel for Labelle and Czornobaj, but Labelle should have used the quote to announce the appeal and to plead for fairness.), “Woman faces life in prison for stopping car to help ducks and causing crash that kills two,” June 20, 2014


“I would like to state for the record that I am not a dingo,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. We think this is just the right response. Wheeler was responding to an attack by former “Daily Show” comedian John Oliver on his new venture “Last Week Tonight.” Oliver claimed that putting Wheeler in charge of the FCC was like hiring a dingo as a babysitter. Wheeler took it in stride, saying that it was “creative and funny” and showed “the high level of interest in the topic.” There’s always an exception to the rule, and this is it. Congratulations, Chairman Wheeler.

Re/code, “FCC’s Wheeler on Viral Net Neutrality Video: ‘I Am Not a Dingo,’” June 13, 2014


“This is a social crime which depends on men and women. Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong,” said the prime minister of Uttar Pradesh, an Indian state where two cousins, aged 12 and 14, were raped and hung. (In India, a crime can only be classified as rape if it’s reported to the police. In this instance, the families said they called police who didn’t come. The minister, Babulai Gaur also expressed sympathy for another politician who sympathized with legislative changes recommending the death penalty for gang rape, saying, “boys commit mistakes; will they be hanged for rape?” This is an example of how words reveal underlying culture, which will only be changed by leadership at the top, education and empowerment of women. The U.S. has a critically important world role to play by energetically advancing the rights of women and children and by casting them as strengthening families and civil society. Note that the “rape” line became the headline.)

The Guardian, “India state minister on rape: ‘Sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong,’” June 5, 2014

“The people of Germany in a free election selected the Nazi party because they made great promises that appealed to them because they were desperate and destitute. And why is that? Because Germany was bankrupt,” said Indiana treasurer and former senate candidate Richard Mourdock, making another appearance in the BIMBO Memo’s “Wrong Thing to Say” category. (Mourdock was linking the 70th anniversary of D-Day with the need to tackle the country’s national debt and budget deficit. True to form, he was just as inept as he was as a Senate candidate and seems to have learned nothing. If you use a sensational, “bad word” – like Nazi – it’s going to dominate the reporting and your point will be lost. And note the word “Nazi” made it into the headline.)

Indianapolis Star, “Richard Mourdock says nation going way of Hitler’s Nazi Germany,” June 7, 2014

“I am so angry at all these evil activists. They should all be executed,” said Weluree Ditsayabut, Miss Universe Thailand who was forced to renounce her title after remarks she had posted on Facebook months earlier resurfaced and caused major controversy. (Once again, “bad words” will be noticed, will travel and will cause trouble. Ditsayabut needed better coaching. See the word “execute” in the headline.)

NBC News, “Miss Universe Thailand Resigns Over ‘Execute’ Red Shirts Comments,” June 9, 2014

“It is downright harmful because it creates a false sense of security… complete bullshit. We’ll get in conflict with the Germans, Russians and we think that everything is super because we gave the Americans a blow job. Losers, complete losers,” said Polish Foreign Minister Radolaw Sikorski in a secretly recorded conversation. Sikorski was contending that Poland’s relationship with the U.S. was useless. (This may be the worst “Wrong Thing to Say” example we’ve ever seen. While we agree with the minister’s analysis, his way of expressing it guaranteed controversy which obscured the actual situation, namely the U.S.’s failure to back up allies. And once again, the negative words migrated into the headline, obscuring the real issue.)

Reuters, “‘We Gave the Americans a Blow Job,’ Got Nothing, says Polish Foreign Minister,” June 22, 2014

“We all need to stomp out balkanization. No Spanish [sic] radio stations, no spanish billboards, no spanish tv stations, no spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English,” wrote Arizona Superintendent John Huppenthal, a Republican, in supposed-to-be anonymous blog postings. Huppenthal also wrote, “I don’t mind them selling Mexican food as long as the menus are mostly in English. And, I’m not being humorous or racist. A lot is at stake here.” First of all, the guy deserves to be bounced for stupidity. Does he really think blog posts will stay anonymous? Second, he is right, there is a lot at stake with the idea that the country should have a common language, but he destroyed the legitimate discussion with his posts. And once again, the sensational comment becomes the headline, not the real discussion.)

Talking Points Memo, “Arizona GOPer: ‘We All Need To Stomp Out’ Spanish TV Stations, Newspapers,” June 24, 2014

Speaking of being tone deaf, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was due at a fancy party at the Cannes Lions awards for advertising bigwigs, a key audience for the company, and arrived two hours late, saying she had fallen asleep. Wooo… First, there are these neat devices called alarm clocks and iPhones, not to mention staff assistants or nannies, both of which Mayer has. Calling Jody Powell, President Carter’s press secretary who, when asked what he did for the president said, “I tell the modified limited version of the truth.” This was the time for a white lie. She could have said, “I had a personal problem,” followed by a heartfelt apology. We hope she has stationery to write personal apologies as well.

The Wall Street Journal CMO Today, “How Marissa Mayer Fell Asleep and Kept Ad Executives Waiting For Hours,” June 23, 2014

“We may protest, ‘Why did God make this nation a colony of Japan?’” asked South Korea’s nominee for prime minister, Moon Chang-keuk, answering “There is God’s will in it.” (As President Carter said, life is unfair, and this is an example. Moon was preaching in a Presbyterian church in 2011 talking about chapters in the country’s history. He was making the point that the elite are corrupt and inefficient, opening the door to a foreign power, but the “God’s will” phrase was on video and was circulated as a way for the opposition to attack President Park Geun-hye, portrayed as justifying the Chinese occupation. What’s needed is bipartisan leadership calling for all parties to cease pulling “bad words” out of context.)

New York Times, “Nominee for South Korean Premier Exits Over Colonization Remarks,” June 24, 2014

“These high and mighty duopolists that are raping you for every penny you have… the f**kers hate you,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere at a company event. Legere was criticizing AT&T and Verizon. (The CEO issued a mealy mouthed semi-apology on Twitter, “I know I have an [sic] Rated R vocabulary, but even I can go too far. Sincere apologies to anyone offended last night.” His point, that the consolidating telecommunications industry needs shaking up is important, but his choice of words distracted from the issue. The profanities set the wrong tone and are antithetical to every aspect of leadership. The apology should have been total, not the cop-out phrase “to anyone offended.” And, we’re not usually screaming that women need special treatment, but can anyone imagine a woman talking like this? If a company really wants diversity and women, they have to use civil language. Again, the sensational word becomes the headline.)

Mashable, “T-Mobile CEO Apologizes After Saying AT&T, Verizon are ‘Raping You,’” June 19, 2014

“Using water for drilling and hydraulic fracturing is not a major use of water,” said Ed Ireland, spokesperson for the Texas Barnett Shale Formation. (The comment came as the debate over water use continues to escalate. Communities are passing stiff, even draconian, regulations about domestic water use. The problem with the comment is that it tries to defend and educate. Ireland added, “half of the residential use is watering lawns. So in a word, that gets the biggest bang for the buck.” He missed the opportunity to make the positive message for job creation, safety, commitment to environmental care and community involvement. The question to start with is always, “Who’s the audience?” and that shapes the message. The industry only gets two quotes in the article. This isn’t the place to educate.)

WFAA, “Water Restrictions don’t apply to fracking operations in most North Texas cities,” June 16, 2014


A good example of how to apologize comes from Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal, which published an article by an imprisoned youth pastor who molested a student. The article failed to express regret and tried to paint a picture that the relationship was consensual. The publication initially carried a short disclaimer but then decided that was insufficient. Leadership Journal later added a sincere apology which thankfully didn’t make the “if you were offended” excuse. It began, “We should not have published this post and we deeply regret the decision to do so.” Click here to read the full apology and note the last line, “We apologize unreservedly for the hurt we clearly have caused.” File this as an example for how to do it right.)

Christianity Today Leadership Journal, From Youth Minister to Felon, June 2014


Oops. Delta Airlines tried to tweet about USA’s victory in the FIFA World Cup against Ghana, an African country. They tweeted two images: the Statue of Liberty and a stately giraffe. Alas, there aren’t giraffes in Ghana. Others noted that the image was particularly problematic since Delta is a global airline that flies to Ghana and should know this.

This month’s example of a tweet going viral comes from Maurizio Gasparri, deputy speaker of the Italian Senate, mocking England after Italy defeated them in a World Cup match. Gasparri tweeted, “It’s always a pleasure to say, go f*ck themselves’ to the English, pretentious and d*cks.” (This is getting repetitive: “bad words” will travel significantly. Before you tweet, ask if it’s worth global attention.)

The Telegraph, “Italian politician under fire after insulting tweet aimed at English,” June 16, 2014

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