Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for July 2022


  • Bimbo
  • June 30, 2022
  • by Spaeth Communications

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Maybe the best BIMBO Memo ever to demonstrate the importance of communication. We picked the “catfight” comment as the winner so we can all smile and feel morally superior. The Jussie Smollett comment came in second– with apologies for the profanities - because we still feel he’s worth saving. The most important comments are the ones from the Fed Chairman and the Treasury Secretary. More BIMBO comments from a financial publication, Putin’s spokesman, former President Trump, coaches Fisher and Saban, as well as Meta for Sheryl Sandberg (again). International BIMBOs from Angela Merkel, a candidate for presidency in Colombia and a spokesperson for Turkey’s president. Examples of the Power of Words from Jamie Dimon and a misquote from Notre Dame’s head football coach. Lastly, a good example of how to make statistics “verbally visual” and two articles worth reading even though one contains good advice and the other one bad advice. 

THE WINNING BIMBO 

"It's so painful for people to keep talking about this 'catfight' — a fight, a fight, a fight. I've never uttered fighting words in my life about anybody that I've worked with ever," said actress Sarah Jessica Parker. "There is not a 'fight' going on. There has been no public dispute or spat or conversations or allegations made by me or anybody on my behalf. I wouldn't do it. That is not the way I would have it.” While the article was focused on how the iconic series, “Sex and the City,” would be returning for a second season of its reboot, “And Just Like That…”, the discussion focused on why the character of Samantha Jones, played by Kim Cattrall wasn’t included in the first season. As long as Parker keeps repeating the words “catfight” and “fight,” this will continue to be the focus. 

People Magazine, “And Just Like That... Showrunner Reveals Season 2 Storyline Will Include Samantha's Character,” June 7, 2022

THE RUNNERS-UP 

“Jussie Smollett insists he’s not ‘a piece of s—t,’” is the headline reporting on the actor’s appearance on popular radio show “Sway in the Morning.” The actor also insisted he’s not a “m----f-----”.  This is a self-inflicted wound as well as a BIMBO comment because he’s still insisting that, although he was convicted after a painfully thorough trial of paying two men to pretend to attack him for being a black, gay man, he never did the crime. We’ve written about this incident before and beg anyone who knows Jussie to urge him to come clean and move on. 

Page Six, “Jussie Smollett insists he’s not a ‘piece of s—t,’ says he gained clarity from jail,” June 23, 2022

“We are not trying to provoke and do not think we will need to provoke a recession,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. This comment stood out over several days as an example of how even talking about not expecting a recession caused the language to be all about a recession. There was plenty of “expert” commentary about how talking about economic problems could play a role in causing them. Note the headline, “Fed Chair Jerome Powell Says Higher Interest Rates Could Cause a Recession.” We’re not making this the winning BIMBO comment, but it certainly looks like one of the most important examples of the month, if not the year, of the real impact of communication. 

The Wall Street Journal, “Fed Chair Jerome Powell Says Higher Interest Rates Could Cause a Recession,” June 22, 2022

“I don’t think a recession is at all inevitable,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on ABC’s “This Week.” Although she tried to give an upbeat picture, the quote – not “inevitable” – generated multiple news stories and headlines. Given what we think BIMBO comments reveal, HELP!!

ABC News, “Recession isn't 'inevitable' but inflation remains 'unacceptably high': Janet Yellen,” June 19, 2022

“I would push back on classifying this as an ‘attack,’” said Nathan Worsley, who runs software programs looking for traders about to be liquidated. This came out of article on a complex and highly technical segment of the financial market—crypto trading. He tried to explain further, “The reason is because without liquidations, you can’t have a lending market. So even though no one enjoys being liquidated, it’s essential that people do get liquidated in order to make the market and protect the protocol from insolvency.” The headline pretty much explains the whole situation. 

Bloomberg, “Crypto Traders Turn Against Each Other in a Collapsing Market,” June 17, 2022

“It’s not about being a hostage,” said Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Putin defending the country’s hold on basketball star Brittney Griner. Griner was detained four months ago and charged with having hashish-infused oil in her luggage. Of course, Brittney Griner is a hostage and a political prisoner. 

NBC News, “Putin spokesman says Griner isn’t a hostage, gives no hint of release,” June 20, 2022

“I never called Mike Pence a wimp,” said former President Trump. The slam came amid lengthy reports on the White House chaos before and on January 6 and sworn testimony from high level Trump staffers about the pressure the former president put on Pence to hold up certifying the election. Not only did the testimony confirm Trump repeatedly insulted the former vice president, but this is also a classic BIMBO where the reporter asked about the comment only to have the speaker repeat and deny it. 

The New York Times, “A Day After a Portrait of Pence in Danger, Trump Attacks Him Again,” June 17, 2022

“I have no problem,” said Texas A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher about his feud with Alabama head football coach Nick Saban about whether A&M had bought their incoming recruits with NIL deals, insisting “We’re done. We’re moving on.” But there is a problem with how the whole NIL change has exploded and it’s clearly not done. Remember these two were our winners last month. 

USA Today, “‘We’re moving on’: Fisher says public spat with Saban done,” June 1, 2022

“I don’t blame myself,” said former German Chancellor Angela Merkel in her first comments following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She continued, “If diplomacy doesn’t succeed, this doesn’t mean it was therefore wrong. Thus, I don’t see why I should say: ‘That was wrong.’ And therefore, I won’t apologize.” Commentators immediately noted that Merkel made it a policy to cozy up to Russian President Putin, refrained from criticizing the 2014 annexation of Crimea, funded Germany’s NATO contribution significantly below the 2% commitment and made the country heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas by committing to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and closing nuclear plants. Seems to us Merkel has lots to admit and apologize for.

The Wall Street Journal, “Angela Merkel’s Limited Regrets,” June 8, 2022

“Sheryl did not inappropriately use company resources in the planning of her wedding,” said a spokeswoman for the departing Facebook-now-Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg, responding to an expanding investigation into the topic of whether Sandberg used company resources for a number of personal projects. Sandberg made it into May’s BIMBO with the spokesperson denial that “Sheryl Sandberg never threatened the MailOnline’s business relationship with Facebook in order to influence an editorial decision.” This was in response to the report that Facebook/Meta threatened the publication not to publish a story about her then-boyfriend, Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision Blizzard. We opined at the time that the excuse given was weak, weak, weak, namely that MailOnline backed away from a story “because it was untrue.” As if that ever stopped the media from printing a juicy story! Sandberg, and/or the company, should have said, “I try to focus on advancing the company’s goals and I consult regularly with all our internal experts to make sure I am following all the rules.” Not only would that have been better for her, but it would also have set a good example for other employees.

The Wall Street Journal, “Meta Scrutinizing Sheryl Sandberg’s Use of Facebook Resources Over Several Years,” June 10, 2022

“We’re not the brats,” said Ilnur Cevik, a senior foreign policy advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, pushing back on mounting criticism of Turkey’s role in the Russia-Ukraine war. Turkey is playing both sides.

The Wall Street Journal, “Turkey’s Erdogan Capitalizes on Ukraine Crisis as Grip at Home Wavers,” June 6, 2022

“I didn’t steal anything,” is the campaign slogan of Colombian presidential candidate Rodolfo Hernandez. The article’s headline really got our attention. If you wonder if things can get worse in elections here, this is a must read. Hernandez, running against a far left socialist, is conducting his whole campaign on Tik Tok.

The New York Times, “The TikTok Star and Political Chameleon Vying for Colombia’s Presidency,” June 15, 2022

THE POWER OF WORDS

“That hurricane is right out there, down the road, coming our way,” said JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon – only to generate a tsunami of commentary disagreeing. Dimon said this during a conference sponsored by AllianceBernstein, according to Bloomberg. We’re flagging it as an example of the power of a word. Note it became the headline. Stay tuned for future weather reports.

New York Post, “JPM’s chief economist, others disagree with Dimon’s ‘hurricane warning,’” June 6, 202

In this example, reporters Nick Timiraos and Jon Hilsenrath look at the use of the word “transitory”. Janet Yellen used the word a year ago. It got repeated hundreds of times by officials and the press. And it was wrong. The word was front and center on June 15 when the Fed raised interest rates by 75 basis points, something it hadn’t done in 28 years. Note the subhead on Gerard Baker’s column read“First it wasn’t real. Then it was ‘transitory’. Now we’re told the Fed will cure it with a few rate hikes.” This, coupled with comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, ought to unnerve anyone.

The Wall Street Journal, “How the Fed and the Biden Administration Got Inflation Wrong,” June 13, 2022

The word “if,” isn’t usually noted as a word that causes trouble. However, leaving it out got Notre Dame head football coach Marcus Freeman in a lot of trouble. The quoted line appeared to cast aspersions on academics at Ohio State, his alma mater: "You don't go to class (at places like that)? OK, take some online classes, show up for your appointments.” Freeman protested and was later proven correct in that he said, “If they don’t go to class, (Ohio State athletes) (can) take online classes,” but for the Fighting Irish “You’re forced every day to go to class.” He explained that he was making the point that Notre Dame, a much smaller school, had very limited online class alternatives. 

USA Today, “Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman says he was misquoted in comments about Ohio State,” June 15, 2022

WRONG THING TO SAY

Baseball announcer Jim Kaat dubbed Yankee pitcher Nestor Cortes “Nestor the Molester” while calling a game. Kaat, 83, was trying to convey that Cortes was mowing down the opponents, the Angels, but it was an incredibly insensitive choice of words in today’s environment. Cortes declined to make a big deal of the incident, saying “People make mistakes, but it didn’t offend me at all,” adding, “I don’t have anything more than just that, honestly.” Cortes has already been dubbed Nasty Nestor by Yankee fans, and they mean it as a compliment. Well, that’s the Yankees. 

FanNation, “Jim Kaat calls Yankees Pitcher ‘Nestor the Molestor,” during Twins broadcast,” June 3, 2022

“Crypto derivatives should be banks’ ‘gateway drug’ to spot: B2C2,” is the headline of this article, quoting a co-founder of crypto market maker B2C2. He was trying to say that these derivatives shouldn’t be a goal in themselves but rather a way to gain experience to trade a physical – meaning, we think, tangible – product. The article, in the technical publication discusses the liquidity situation but, alas, the whole thing flounders on the phrase "gateway drug".

Risk.net, “Crypto derivatives should be banks’ ‘gateway drug’ to spot: B2C2,” June 9, 2022

GOOD EXAMPLES

An extremely personal statement from Matthew McConaughey, the actor who grew up in Uvalde, Texas.

Austin American-Statesman, “Matthew McConaughey: It’s time to act on gun responsibility,” June 6, 2022

When using statistics, we teach the concept of making the main number “verbally visual,” that is, using a verbal comparison. A good example appears in a report about the “dust,” the material brought back to earth by a Japanese space mission. The dust contains amino acids which are critical to the formation of life, so may help explain life’s origin. How much dust? 5.4 grams. How much is 5.4 grams? “The weight of about five raisins.”

The Wall Street Journal, “Solar-System Rocks Could Have Helped Jump-Start Life on Earth, Asteroid Study Finds,” June 10, 2022

ARTICLES WORTH READING 

Here’s some good advice: the title of this article confirms what we all know but constantly violate. Long emails don’t inform, they detract from effective communication. A useful article for anyone trying to educate their peers (or top executives!) 

The Wall Street Journal, “How Long Email Chains Can Make Us Frustrated—and Less Competent,” June 12, 2022

And here’s some bad advice: that completely contradicts one of my latest Minute with Merrie posts. This article tries to be academic and even handed. Most of the examples are the very mild, “this dishwasher is damn quiet.” It’s full of caveats. Don’t use swear words about a person, just a product. Euphemistic swear words are OK. (What’s that? “Madder than a wet hen?”) Only in the last sentence do they hint at the problem. “Cross the line and you’re just a loudmouth with little ability to persuade.” Alas, that’s where most people end up.

The Wall Street Journal, “Why Cursing in Online Reviews Can Actually Be a Good Thing,” May 28, 2022

 

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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