Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for June 2018


  • Bimbo
  • May 31, 2018
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image h

This month we have BIMBOs from -- of course Roseanne Barr -- the lawyers for travel and convenience store chain Buc-ee’s, GOP Senate candidate Joe Arpaio, the House Agriculture Committee and the Mayor of Pittsfield. You’ll also find examples of the Wrong Thing to Say from Elon Musk and the American Conservative Union’s communications director and, even, a quote to remember, two mini case studies, an understatement of the month from a (former) New York Post reporter and the retirement speech of now-former Dallas Cowboy Jason Witten.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“I did not create unsafe work environments. I did not assault women. I did not offer employment or advancement in exchange for sex,” wrote iconic actor Morgan Freeman in a second statement/apology after eight people accused him of inappropriate behavior or harassment. (Freeman clearly doesn’t agree with the allegations, but he set himself up for failure by repeating the charges against him. If he’s going to refute, he should have stuck to his first quote, “I am devastated that 80 years of my life is at risk of being undermined, in the blink of an eye, by Thursday’s media reports.”)

USA Today, “Morgan Freeman on sexual harassment allegations: ‘I did not assault women,’” May 26, 2018 

THE RUNNERS-UP

“This is not a quid pro quo or anything else,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said about possibly easing the sanctions the U.S. imposed on ZTE Corp. (Easing the sanctions imposed on the Chinese telecommunications company would prevent it from going out of business and is widely regarded as a bargaining chip designed to influence the Chinese position during ongoing trade negotiations--which would make it a quid pro quo. Note the phrase makes it into the headline. Mnuchin continued, “The objective was not to put ZTE out of business,” although this is what the original threat was designed to do.)

CBS News, “Mnuchin says no quid pro quo in ZTE rescue talks,” May 22, 2018

“The MasculinUT program does not treat masculinity as a ‘mental health issue,’” said language on the University of Texas webpage for a new program called MasculinUT, which UT claims “was established to bring more men to the table to address interpersonal violence, sexual assault and other issues." MasculinUT featured posters showing male students wearing makeup and dresses and explored the definition of “restrictive masculinity,” which they said gives people “a narrow definition of what it means to be masculine.” (Predictability, the new counseling program generated a howl of criticism and ridicule. The job posting for a “healthy masculinities coordinator” was deleted and the vice president for student affairs and dean of students said she is reviewing the program’s messaging. Again, note that the phrase “mental health issue” made it into the headline.)

Dallas Morning News, “MasculinUT program does not treat masculinity as a ‘mental health issue,’ UT says to conservatives,” May 4, 2018

"I’m not a racist, just an idiot who made a bad joke," said Roseanne Barr reacting to the firestorm caused by her tweet about a former Obama aide (which we won't repeat here). She is both. Numerous people have already commented on her continued strange behavior since the fallout that resulted from her 2 a.m. tweet. Since, she apologized, then got defensive, abandoned Twitter, then proceeded to tweet scores of times. However, the best part of this situation was the uncharacteristically sly comment from Sanofi, the maker of Ambien: "While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication." And they released the comment fast.

CNN, “Roseanne Barr blames Ambien: 'I'm not a racist, just an idiot,'” May 30, 2018

“I am not racist,” said attorney Aaron Schlossberg after he verbally attacked Spanish-speaking workers at a restaurant in Manhattan and, assuming they were undocumented immigrants, threatened to call immigration agents. (No surprise, the exchange was captured on video by other patrons and went viral, which generated a storm of criticism. Schlossberg apologized – sort of – when he said, “What the video did not convey is the real me. I am not racist.” That’s a bi-product of video. It did show him. What he should have done is told the truth—that he lost his temper and was out of line. And once again, the BIMBO comment made the headline.)

The New York Times, “‘I Am Not Racist’: Lawyer Issues Apology One Week After Rant,” May 22, 2018

“It’s absolutely not about a beaver versus an alligator,” said the general counsel for mega convenience and travel store chain Buc-ee’s about its charge that a much smaller company’s alligator logo violates trademark law due to its close resemblance to the Buc-ee’s beaver logo. (We’re with the rival, Choke Canyon, whose alligator, in our opinion, looks nothing like Buc-ee’s beaver. We understand Choke Canyon’s lawyer’s even-handed comment, “We respect the jury’s verdict but we don’t understand it since all the evidence indicated there was no confusion.”)

Houston Chronicle, “Buc-ee’s wins federal court trademark fight against competitor Choke Canyon,” May 23, 2018

“I am not a ‘yes’ man,” said former Arizona sheriff (previous BIMBO nominee) and current GOP Senate candidate Joe Arpaio responding to reporters’ questions about whether he blindly supports President Trump without understanding much about Trump’s specific policies. Presumably these questions stem from the fact that the president pardoned Arpaio last year after he was convicted of charges that he racially profiled people and ignored court orders to stop. (We know Arpaio is very controversial because of his hardline position on illegal immigration, but we think the reporters purposely baited him hoping for a sensational response – at one point “he was even asked if he knew what a tariff was.” However, Arpaio didn’t do himself any favors when he argued with reporters and failed to prepare press conference-ready talking points. And, as happens so often, the quote made the headline.)

MSN, “Arpaio: ‘I Am Not a Yes Man’ to Trump,” May 23, 2018

“The idea isn’t to kick people off the program,” said a spokeswoman for the House Agriculture Committee defending legislation that not only provided ongoing support for various crops but also increased the work requirements for recipients of food stamps. (The spokeswoman was responding to criticism that the work requirements would dissuade people from taking advantage of the program, and she fell into the trap of repeating the negative. The second half of her quote was what should have been her main message: “That’s why we’re making employment and training available to anyone.” The problem with communication on this issue is that decades of experience show that getting people into a job, any job, helps them start climbing the ladder to economic security, but frequently those jobs are minimum wage and basic entry. We personally would like to see more attention to the kinds of apprenticeships like those in Europe, vocational schools and opportunities like McDonalds which advertises itself as the “best first job.”)

Dallas Morning News, “Poor, hungry and under age of 60? House GOP says you should work if you want food stamps,” May 8, 2018

“At no time did I authorize any kind of soft enforcement,” said the Mayor of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, about an initiative by the city’s vendor providing trash pick-up, which started declining to pick up improperly disposed of waste items. (The mayor was trying to combat criticism that she had ordered the vendor to start enforcing existing rules that had been in effect but hadn’t been enforced previously. This initially attracted us because of the unusual phrase “soft enforcement,” but it’s actually interesting as a mini communication case study. The topic of enforcing waste disposal regulation had apparently been discussed by several different city committees with different perspectives and mandates. Two senior government officials told the Resource Recovery Commission – which doesn’t have actual power over solid waste disposal – that existing regulations were going to be enforced. The vendor, Republic Services, took them at their word.  It’s a case study of how communication can get messed up when there’s no clear person in charge, particularly in government. This is also an example of the one government official who should be in charge, the mayor, fleeing responsibility.)

iBerkshires.com, “Pittsfield Councilors Told Trash Hauler Started Enforcement On Its Own,” May 23, 2018

THE WRONG THING TO SAY

“Boring bonehead questions are not cool,” was how Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, characterized a question during a conference call with analysts about whether and when the company might need to raise additional capital. (Musk has more guts than we do— we take analyst calls very seriously and this was a legitimate question. During the same call, Musk also said, “We have no interest in satisfying the desires of day traders. I couldn’t care less. Please sell our stock and don’t buy it.” Investors, who were digesting another large quarterly loss from Tesla, apparently took his advice and Tesla’s stock tanked. This is yet another example proving that words matter and have real-world implications.)

The New York Times, “Elon Musk Rejects ‘Boring, Bonehead Questions,’ and Tesla’s Stock Slides,” May 3, 2018

“We elected Mike Steele to be the R.N.C. chair because he’s a black guy. That was the wrong thing to do,” said Ian Walters, the communications director for the American Conservative Union. (Though the comment was made in February, it nevertheless lives on. The comment, alongside chairman of the American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp’s defense of it, led a lengthy profile of Mr. and Mrs. Schlapp in a recent article published in The New York Times. This is an example of how in today’s environment a salacious crack lives on.)

The New York Times, “Meet the Schlapps, Washington’s Trump-Era ‘It Couple,’” April 30, 2018

A QUOTE TO REMEMBER

“With the drugs we use, we could kill a healthy person within minutes,” said Dr. Mary Dale Peterson of the American Association of Anesthesiologists. (Another mini case study for the comms folks: CHRISTUS Spohn Health System cancelled its contract with Gulf Shore Anesthesia and in its place enlisted another company, EmergencHealth. The announcement generated puzzled comments from established physicians in their service area who are quoted saying things like, “I have never heard of this group called ‘Emergenc.’ I asked around and could not find anyone else who had heard of them, either.” The listed owner of Emergenc is a pulmonologist who practices with a “small Dallas-area hospital.” A series of email exchanges between Corpus Christi TV station investigative reporters and the Spohn PR coordinator raise even more questions. Back to the “kill a healthy person” quote: you can bet that if there are any incidents of less-than-quality care, we’ll see them – and the quote – in court.)

KRISTV.com, “6 Investigates: Spohn contract raises questions of transparency,” May 2, 2018

UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE MONTH

“I should have exercised better judgment,” said New York Post reporter Shawn Cohen after he was fired when he admitted to having an affair with a prostitute who is also a witness in an investigation regarding corruption within the New York City Police Department. (Reality TV here we come: the prostitute is alleged by federal prosecutors to have had sex with cops on an airplane during a flight to Las Vegas. Cohen covered the investigation and wrote a front-page story filled with what the NY Daily News called “lurid detail.”  When I went to Washington as a White House Fellow, I asked my boss, Judge William Webster, Director of the FBI, what my job description was, and he replied, “Use good judgment.” The directive applies more broadly. Cohen added, “As a journalist, I certainly appreciate how this looks given her past profession and the fact I’d written about her, but the reality is quite innocent.” Innocent? Really? Has he lost his mind – as well as his capacity for good judgment? Perfecting the story, The New York Post declined to comment.)

Daily News, “New York Post reporter axed for secret affair with hooker at center of NYPD corruption scandal,” May 4, 2018

 A HEARTFELT FAREWELL

Take time to read about, and perhaps to watch, Jason Witten’s speech formally announcing his retirement as a Dallas Cowboy player. “After much self reflection, prayer and faith, today I’ve decided the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation of Dallas Cowboys and retire from the National Football League.” (We call the speech to your attention because of his open discussion of prayer and faith, but also because you’ll see that he shows a great deal of emotion. Well done, Jason Witten—a truly heartfelt farewell for the books!)

SportsDay, “Why Jason Witten’s retirement is much different than Tony Romo’s,” May 3, 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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