Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for July 2018


  • Bimbo
  • July 5, 2018
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image c

This month we have great examples of the “Wrong Thing To Say” from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Roseanne Barr (of course), agent David Sloane, Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen, a Dallas pastor, Rudy Giuliani and more. You’ll also read about two interesting examples of statistics, an example of a nice quote and Sixers’ Bryan Colangelo’s Twitter problems.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“Donald Trump is wrong. My client Peter Strzok is a patriot, not a ‘sick loser,’” was the headline of an article by Aitan Goelman, lawyer for the FBI agent who authored the emails asserting that he would prevent Trump from becoming president. (Strzok’s emails have been all over the news, so readers are highly likely to have seen them. Goelman also wrote that Strzok had “express[ed] [his] personal political views,” but the emails show much more than that. Goelman pointed out that Strzok is cooperating with the investigators—an argument he should have maintained. Note that the “sick loser” phrase Strzok used originally came from a tweet from President Trump, thereby reiterating the human tendency to pick up and repeat each other’s words. Predictably, the salacious description made the headline.)

USA Today, “Donald Trump is wrong. My client Peter Strzok is a patriot, not a ‘sick loser,’” June 19, 2018

THE RUNNERS-UP

“This sort of portrayal of me as a right-wing yahoo riding in on a steed from Ohio with a red cap on is just silly,” said Keith Burris, editorial page editor of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. (This merits the number two spot because the paper dismissed cartoonist Rob Rogers for regularly drawing Trump cartoons—many of which criticized the president. Burris explained the reason saying, “I’m certainly not in Trump’s base and I don’t think our publisher is, we just don’t think he’s Satan. We never said ‘don’t do Trump cartoons.’ A Trump cartoon every day is not interesting, and a Trump cartoon every day that’s not funny and is just enraged is not particularly effective.” This is a thoughtful editorial opinion. Burris, as a writer, should know it was a mistake to add the phrase “right-wing yahoo.”)

The New York Times, “Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cartoonist Fired as Paper Shifts Right,” June 15, 2018

“We want to show you that these are not kids kept in cages,” said Alexia Rodriguez, a spokesperson for an organization providing shelters for youth intercepted while crossing the southern border illegally. (Here, Rodriguez refers to the widely circulated photos of young children sleeping in cages, which were published in 2014. Like so many examples, the negative, “kids kept in cages” comment Rodriguez introduced overshadowed her positive quote: “We provide them excellent care.” Plus, the entire article was written because there was a tour for media to see the largest of such facilities and press coverage was balanced, as it even noted that the children had living, recreational and eating services. Unsurprisingly, the negative comment became the headline.)

NPR, “’These Are Not Kids Kept In Cages,’: Inside A Texas Shelter For Immigrant Youth,” June 14, 2018

“I am not hiding anything from you,” said Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at a House Judiciary Committee hearing focusing on the Department of Justice’s handling of the investigations of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and of the Trump campaign. (This is a classic BIMBO situation. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said, “We caught you hiding information!” Rosenstein did a great job acknowledging the question saying, “It’s not accurate, sir,” but offered the “not hiding” sentence before saying that DOJ staff were “working around the clock, doing their best (to provide the information requested).” Like so many examples, he shouldn’t have included the negative phrase. He also said, “I’m not a Democrat, and I’m not angry.” Fortunately, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., urged the DOJ to “… finish it the hell up!” which became the headline. The Deputy Attorney General was also referenced in the news after House staff reported they felt “personally attacked” during a closed-door meeting with Rosenstein in January. A Justice Department official said, “The Deputy Attorney General never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation.” This is a lesson demonstrating that denying the threat only intensifies the impact.)

USA Today, “Deputy AG Rosenstein, FBI Director Wray grilled by House panel on Clinton inquiry,” June 28, 2018

“We are not the enemy of the American people,” said media star Wolf Blitzer. (This is particularly amusing because Blitzer whined, “Everybody’s always criticizing us,” as if the subjects they cover don’t feel the same way! And, like so many of our BIMBOs, he also included a positive, even emotional comment, “We love the American people.” He missed the opportunity to commit himself to provide fair, balanced coverage and analysis.)

The Washington Free-Beacon, “Wolf Blitzer: ‘We Are Not the Enemy of the American People, We love the American People,” Jun 13, 2018    

“I’m not a racist, I’m an idiot,” said Roseanne Barr in an emotional podcast interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. (This tearful interview may or may not help Roseanne redeem herself. It seems she’s really missing an overall strategy for how to reclaim her talent and her career. Per usual, the comment became the headline.)

NBC News, “Roseanne Barr gives tearful interview after scandal: ‘I’m not a racist, I’m an idiot,’” June 25, 2018

“I didn’t get out of the agent business because I was a bad agent … I got out of the agent business because I was tired of swimming in a sewer,” said veteran agent David Sloane who didn’t mince words about what he thought was happening in major league baseball. “I’m not slinking away,” added Sloane. (The dispute involves his fee for a player named Justus Sheffield, which spilled over into a spat with the state of Tennessee, the Major League Baseball Players Association and Vanderbilt University. We include it here as an example of the use of inflammatory words, which live forever. It’s hard to see how Sloane can navigate his way back to a civil relationship.)

USA Today, “Why a baseball agent is leaving the industry over $33,000: ‘Tired of swimming in a sewer,’” June 3, 2018

“We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,” said Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a tweet reacting to continuing criticism about the administration’s immigration policies. (The day before this tweet, Sec. Nielsen tweeted, “… if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry.” Interesting that the debate is over the word “policy” and what actually constitutes a “policy.” In this case, Nielsen was narrowly correct that it wasn’t a “policy” but no matter what she wants to call it, it certainly triggered the undesired and highly criticized results. Better not to have engaged in the debate, especially via Twitter.)

Vox, “DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s defense of separation of families at the border: it’s not a ‘policy,’” June 18, 2018

“We’re not here to criticize or be antagonistic toward people and to beat them down. There’s no threat. The people in the community should not feel a threat,” said Shelton Gibbs III, minister of a church in suburban Dallas reacting to criticism of a flyer the church distributed. The text warned of “Dangerous Isms” like “Alcoholism,” “Materialism,” “Pessimism” but also “Judaism” and “Islamism.” (Afterwards, a predictable outcry from Jewish and Muslim leaders resulted. What makes this unusual is that Pastor Gibbs is African American. When asked why he didn’t include “’isms’ such as racism, or sexism,” he replied that they were taking up one “ism” each Wednesday and there were only so many weeks in the summer. The church, which has grown from 20 members into a mega-church, released a statement in which it vowed to work on its phrasing in the future.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Richardson minister stands by church flier that warns Judaism, Islamism ‘dangerous,’” June 4, 2018

“Therefore, he had no intent to defraud anyone,” said John Teakell, defense attorney for self-described “whale whisperer” Paul Gilman. Gilman was charged with federal securities law violations for raising millions from investors for GilmanSound and then lying to investors about his use of their money after the company failed. As noted above, his lawyer fell into the denial trap. (As with so many examples, the first part of the comment was on-target, “Mr. Gilman believes that the evidence will show that the subject technology was being developed and continued to be developed.” His lawyer should have continued by saying that he felt investors shared his passion or understood that this was a long-term project.)

USA Today, “’Whale Whisperer’ accused in $3.3M financial scam used to finance a lavish lifestyle,” June 5, 2018

WRONG THING TO SAY

“I don’t respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman,” said Rudy Giuliani, acting as a senior lawyer and counselor to President Trump. (Giuliani was talking about porn actress Stormy Daniels’ publicity tour and whether she has any credibility. We have this filed under “Wrong Thing To Say” because it’s irrelevant and inappropriate to attack her personally. He also veered off topic and said that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was “begging” for a meeting with President Trump. Fortunately, that insult didn’t derail the historic meeting, but we question why in this case Giuliani, one of the savviest political types around, would choose to talk to the media.)

ABC News, “Giuliani takes swipe at Stormy Daniels, adult film stars: ‘I don’t respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman,’” June 6, 2018

“I have personally never observed (housing discrimination)," said bank regulator and comptroller of the currency, Joseph Otting during a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. (He added that “many of my friends from the inner city across America will tell me that it is evident today.” Who writes his briefing material and talking points? This was guaranteed to produce negative press and to appear disconnected and elitist.)

The New York Times, “Bank Regulator, on the Defensive, Endorses an Obama-Era Approach to Fight Discrimination,” June 14, 2018

“Indeed, for law, the giver is as guilty as the receiver. So, you cannot exonerate their enticer and condemn their…victim,” said Charles Bentum, the attorney defending Ghanaian soccer officials caught over many months taking cash bribes. (This is another example of an attorney trying to put a spin on his clients’ unfortunate situation. The undercover news team led by journalist Anas Aremayaw Anas and BBC Africa Eye had hundreds of hours of videotape where the officials took “shopping money” or asked that sponsorship money be diverted to a company they controlled. Referees were recorded saying things like, “We need your team to play well” and took money on the eve of important matches. This is included as an example of how video changes the legal equation. As the saying goes, “seeing is believing.”)

BBC, “Betraying the Game: African officials filmed taking cash,” June 7, 2018

STATISTICS

Did the government “lose” 1,500 illegal migrant children? This is an interesting example of how statistics – coupled with a sensational word, “lost” – creates a story, in fact, major news. Spoiler Alert: it wasn’t true. Here’s what happened: The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is responsible for unaccompanied alien (non-citizen) children entering the country illegally. They release children to sponsors, usually a parent or close relative. ORR only began to track released children in 2016, calling 30 days after releasing them to a sponsor to ask if the children needed additional services. In one recent period, 14 percent of the sponsors didn’t respond to the call. That led to the story that they had been “lost”; although, by that logic, tens of thousands of children had been “lost” in previous administrations. The narrative of “lost” children fit the media’s narrative that families were being ripped apart at the border. Plus, it was National Missing Children’s Day when the story was released. Finally, the reporter who originally reported the story, Ron Nixon, wrote about it in the column where New York Times’ reporters reflect on a story or other personal item of interest. This is worth looking at to show your C-Suite and communications colleagues about how a statistic can anchor a story.

USA Today, “Health & Human Services: We didn’t lose 1,500 migrant children. Most are with family.,” May 30, 2018

A New York Times column, “Harvard is Wrong That Asians Have Terrible Personalities,” is worth reading for anyone seeking to understand the convoluted issue of affirmative action and the competing priorities of fairness, merit and inclusion. In brief, a group of Asian-American students is suing Harvard and charging racial bias. Harvard’s admissions data showed Asian-Americans outperformed white candidates in grades, SAT scores, the most AP exams passed and had more extracurricular activities. Interviewers who personally met with the Asian-American students rated them on a par with whites on personal qualities of subjective measures like likeability, helpfulness, courage, kindness and positive personality. By contrast, interviewers who had not met the student they rated, scored Asian-American students a personality rating low enough to make them less competitive in the admissions process. Whatever your views are on the admission criteria of elite colleges, this column by an Asian-American writer and author is a fair consideration of the topic.

The New York Times, “Harvard is Wrong That Asians Have Terrible Personalities,” June 25, 2018

OTHER EXAMPLES

What was First lady Melania Trump thinking when she wore a jacket with the words “I REALLY DON’T CARE, DO U?” on the back of the garment to visit a shelter for migrant children in Texas? For someone as careful with her clothes and image and as aware of the likelihood of the media to seize on every detail to note or mock, she had to have known that the jacket would overshadow the purpose of her visit. Her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, tried to criticize the media when she said on Twitter, “If media would spend their time & energy on her actions & efforts to help kids -- rather than speculate & focus on her wardrobe -- we could get so much accomplished on behalf of children.” (In this case, we think the media was within their purview. She did choose to wear the jacket…)

The Washington Post, “How Melania Trump’s jacket choice overtook her visit to the Texas border shelters,” June 21, 2018

Blue Bell Creameries produced a nice quote after a Louisiana teacher encouraged her home-schoolers ages eight to 11 to rename Blue Bell’s combined vanilla-and-chocolate flavor offering. Averse to the name, “The Great Divide,” the children came up with “Better Together” and then shared the idea on Facebook as an open letter to the ice cream giant, which not only received the message, but also read it and responded: “We were amazed when we read the letter, by their thoughtfulness and their compassion for all people, and we are humbled by their love of our ice cream.” Kudos to Blue Bell for responding. We thought it was a very nice response with an appropriately muted – but still evident – product mention.

The Dallas Morning News, “Blue Bell ‘impressed,’ ‘humbled’ by children’s idea to rename an ice cream flavor,” June 15, 2018

TWITTER STORY

Take a look at this cautionary Twitter story about Philadelphia 76ers president of operations Bryan Colangelo. The story began when snarky and damaging comments about former Sixers executives--clearly from insiders--were tweeted from five different Twitter accounts. Sports publication “The Ringer” received an anonymous tip from an individual who speculated that all five accounts were burner accounts and likely operated by one person. According to the tipster, it was likely that the one person was Colangelo himself. Afterwards, an investigation was launched and revealed that Colangelo’s wife was the author. Even if he actually knew nothing about his wife’s well-intentioned but entirely inappropriate actions, what she posted revealed that her husband had been talking to her about extremely confidential team matters. Oops. It cost Colangelo his job. A good case study for coaches to show their team members. Nobody is truly anonymous on Twitter. Just as Kevin Durant

The New York Times, “The Story of the Wife Who Defended Her Husband in a Way That Left Him Unemployed,” June 7, 2018

 

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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