Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for March 2018


  • Bimbo
  • March 4, 2018
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image c

Dilbert Wins! Other BIMBOs from a Plano, Texas Councilman, several members of the administration, a brouhaha over journalistic ethics, a homeless advocate versus the Queen’s Windsor Castle, the woman who allowed her husband to drown and a new kind of Russian incitement. Examples of the wrong thing to say from the sheriff of Broward County (twice!) and the communications director for the American Conservative Union as well as several examples of the misuse of statistics. Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer does it wrong and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ lawyer makes a powerful statement. A good example from the Chair of the Fairfax, Virginia Republican Party about how to deal with a leader’s racist statements, and PepsiCo’s CEO is in the news with “lady-friendly” Doritos. (Message: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.)

THE WINNING BIMBO

Dilbert discovered the BIMBO comment phenomenon this month. In the first strip, one of the managers reported to his pointy-headed boss that “A feature article in the business press called our leadership a ‘bunch of morons,’” and his boss replied, “To counter that slanderous story, our new marketing slogan is ‘we’re not a bunch of morons.’” In the next strip, Dilbert explained to his boss, “When we say, ‘we’re not a bunch of morons,’ it kinda sounds to my ears as if we are,” and the boss replies, “But it says we’re not.” Then Dilbert retorted, “And you’re not a rat-faced waste of oxygen.” Thank you, Scott Adams! (If any readers know Scott, please forward this to him!)

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I would not use ‘crumbs’ personally, and I think a lot of Blue Dogs would not use ‘crumbs,’” said Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, about Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s description of $1,000 - $2,000 bonuses received because of the tax cut legislation as “crumbs.” (This also shows the power of a bad word. Conservative publications pointed out that Pelosi described a $40 tax cut in 2011 as a “victory for America.” Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., criticized Pelosi with an announcement introducing the “‘Creating Relief and Useful Middle-Class Benefits and Savings’ Act — or ‘CRUMBS Act.’”)

Liberty Headlines, “Pelosi Doubles Down on ‘Crumbs;’ Dems in Mid-Term Election Panic,” Feb. 20, 2018

“I’m not ‘gutting’ CFPB,” said Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in an op-ed in USA Today. (This is a classic BIMBO comment. Mulvaney was dispatched to the CFPB, the only agency with no accountability to anyone, and promptly took several actions to restore what we consider reasonable regulatory actions. Mulvaney was accused of “gutting” the Bureau and he fell right into the trap and repeated the negative, which became the headline. This is a shame because in the body of the op-ed, he described some of the important actions he took, and he explained that he requested a budget of zero because the agency had created a $177 million slush fund.)

USA Today, “Mick Mulvaney: I’m not ‘gutting’ CFPB,” Feb.13, 2018

”I am not xenophobic, I am not a bigot, I am not a racist,” said Plano (Texas) City Council member Tom Harrison reacting to criticism after he posted a video with the caption, “Share if you think Trump should ban Islam in American schools.” (Harrison took the post down and was censured by his colleagues. As of this writing, he’s still on the council. There is a good news side to this story in the comments from other councilmen and the mayor. They pointed out this wasn’t a partisan issue, and that Plano is a diverse, inclusive community.)

KERA News, “Plano City Councilman Tom Harrison Will Not Resign Following Anti-Islam Facebook Post,” Feb. 18, 2018

“I don’t think the president supporting due process for any allegations is…tone deaf,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (This is a classic BIMBO comment that resulted from the controversy over accusations of abuse from the ex-wives of senior White House aide Robert Porter. The president first called for investigation and due process and did not immediately condemn the aide, which generated criticism that he is “tone deaf.” Sanders fell into the trap by repeating the negative phrase back, and it became the headline. This is a shame because President Trump’s actual statement was right on target; however, Sanders repeated the negative.)

Politico, “White House: Trump call for due process on abuse claims ‘not tone deaf,’” Feb. 12, 2018

“We don’t want any kind of conflict of interest. We don’t want anyone to say that we’re taking advantage,” said Donald Trump Jr. on a trip to New Delhi to pitch luxury high-rises with the Trump name. (The controversy is predictable because the president’s adult children have lives and businesses of their own. Trump Jr. is also a celebrity in his own right as well as in his well-known position as adviser to his father. As is so frequently the case, the rest of his quote was fine: “From a business perspective, it’s clearly a negative. There will be a time after politics where we will be able to get back into that market.” What’s more, Trump Jr.’s attention is clearly beneficial to business in India.)

The New York Times, “As Donald Trump Jr. Drums Up Business in India, Some Ask What’s Being Sold,” Feb. 22, 2018

“There is no corporate pressure to participate and no consequence for not participating. It doesn’t put them in any ethical bind whatsoever,” said Rebecca Hanson, senior vice president of strategy and policy of Sinclair Broadcast Group in reaction to the company’s solicitation of its employees, including news directors, for contributions to the company’s Political Action Committee. (Again, the rest of the quote was fine, as she went on to explain the news directors “were solicited as a result of being part of our managerial level” and that “participation is completely voluntary.”)

TVSpy, “Sinclair Defends Asking News Directors to Contribute to Company’s Political Action Committee,” Feb. 12, 2018

“I’m not a weirdo at all,” said Chris Milam after being arrested and charged with “indecency with a child by exposure.” (This is a troubling story because Milam claims he has been accused by two people with a parental dispute and possibly a vendetta against his business dealings; however, the affidavit charged that the girl involved provided the information to police. We’re troubled to hear of these serious allegations.)

Statesman, “Austin developer of Backyard in Bee Cave charged with indecency with a child,” Feb. 20, 2018

“Dudley called it an ‘epidemic.’ It’s not an ‘epidemic,’” said Murphy James, director of the Windsor Homelessness Project in Windsor, UK, rebutting the charge by Simon Dudley, a Conservative Party official, who expressed concern about homeless people lying in front of the well-known castle where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will be married in May. (This is also an example of statistics. Defenders of the rights of the homeless point out that Windsor only has 32,000 people and only 12-15 chronically homeless people living on the streets. That misses the point. Even the media pointed out that they are “bundled in sleeping bags amid cardboard boxes” and that “layers of warm clothing could be seen in prominent spots on the town’s High Street.” This is part of a greater debate about providing affordable, safe shelter while also dealing with mental or substance abuse issues. But, for basic communication purposes, it’s another example of how we pick up and repeat words and how our choice of words affects perception.)

USA Today, “Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s wedding may relocate homeless in ‘caring’ Windsor,” Feb. 14, 2018

“I’m not cold, and I’m not heartless,” said Angelika Graswald, newly released from prison after being convicted in the death of her fiancé, Vincent Viafore. (This is a strange, disturbing story. Her fiancé drowned on a kayaking trip and it turned out she knew that the plug on the bottom as well as the paddle were missing and may have removed them herself. Initially the subject of sympathy, she posted a video of herself appearing to celebrate his death. It’s disturbing because of the facts, but also because police interrogated her for 11 hours and she claims she agreed to anything just to have it end. Now she’s talking to the press and trying for a book deal.)

The New York Times, “Out of Prison, Fiancée in Kayak Case Says, ‘I’m Not Heartless,’” Feb. 18, 2018

“Ukraine is not an afterthought,” was the response of the Atlantic Council to a tweet by a Russian attending the Munich Security Conference. Dmitri Trenin said that in Europe “Ukraine is more or less an afterthought.” (The statement of rebuttal is powerful, but may be truer than Europeans and Americans want to admit.)

Atlantic Council, “Ukraine Is Not an Afterthought,” Feb. 21, 2018

WRONG THING TO SAY

"I gave him a gun. I gave him a badge. I gave him the training. If he didn’t have the heart to go in, that’s not my responsibility,” said Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel to a local reporter in defense of his refusal to resign after one of his armed officers failed to go inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the shooting. Avoiding any responsibility is a bad look. Plus, he said himself, “I’m the Sheriff, my name’s on the door.”

The Daily Caller, “Sheriff Israel To Local Reporter On His Deputy’s Failure: ‘That’s Not My Responsibility,’” Feb. 25, 2018

“We elected Mike Steele to be the R.N.C. chair because he’s a black guy,” said Ian Walters, communications director for the American Conservative Union at the annual CPAC conference. (This was a stunningly insulting thing to say, particularly from the communications director. Really? He must have missed entry level courses in communication. Who’s his audience? This quote was guaranteed to make the headline. Plus, it sent reporters to Steele for his reaction and when they asked him whether the Republican Party had a problem with “racism” (a major bad word), it’s not surprising he responded with “yes.”)

The New York Times, “CPAC Official Says Michael Steele Was Chosen to Lead G.O.P. Because He’s ‘a Black Guy,’” Feb. 25, 2018

STATISTICS

The FBI has received intense criticism since it was revealed that callers to the Florida tip line had flagged Nikolas Cruz as a potential threat. FBI Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich held a press conference to commit to rebuilding public trust. Unfortunately, he also said, “I’m not making excuses.” Ironically, he proceeded to do just this, arguing that the tip line received 765,000 calls along with 750,000 online tips and that nine out of 10 tips don’t pan out. He then added the totally irrelevant information that the bureau had opened “‘well over' 1,500 financial crimes cases last year, 200 of which involved elderly victims.” Other commenters pointed out that other large organizations have developed ways to handle large volumes of calls and communications. As a former special assistant to FBI Director William Webster, I know the bureau’s dedication; however, it has stumbled badly in the past year.

The Wall Street Journal, “Senior FBI Official Expresses Concern About Lack of Public Trust,” Feb. 22, 2018

Sheriff of Broward County, Scott Israel, was annoyed that news reports kept saying there had been 39 calls for service regarding the Parkland shooter or his family. “STOP REPORTING 39; IT’S SIMPLY NOT TRUE,” said a public statement released from his office. (This may take the cake in missing the point: there were many opportunities for law enforcement to recognize this threat.)

CNN, “Sheriff says he got 23 calls about shooter's family, but records show more,” Feb. 27, 2018

ATTORNEYS

Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, a celebrity in his own right, said, “While Mr. Weinstein’s behavior was not without fault, there certainly was no criminality.” (Brafman then tried to change the topic by saying that “at the end of the inquiry it will be clear that Harvey Weinstein promoted more women to key executive positions than any other industry leader.” The first quote is completely twisted and only confuses people who don’t understand the exact definitions of what’s criminal.)

The New York Times “Weinstein Company Sale Delayed by N.Y. Attorney General Lawsuit,” Feb. 11, 2018

We roasted Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens for his lengthy list of denials related to an adulterous episode before he became governor when salacious details came to light through the ex-husband of the woman involved. Now the story has taken an even darker turn. The state’s circuit attorney brought a charge before a grand jury and indicted Greitens on charges that he photographed a woman and disseminated the picture over the internet. Since we’re usually poking fun at lawyers, we want to recognize the enormously powerful statement from Greitens’ lawyer to the state’s elected leaders: “Not only is he presumed innocent – he is innocent.” This situation disturbs us because it’s another allegation that has generated huge headlines. I was part of the Reagan administration when Ray Donovan, Secretary of Labor, was cleared of fraud charges after two and a half years and asked, “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”

WFAA, “Gov. Greitens indicted for invasion of privacy stemming from March 2015 affair,” Feb. 23, 2018

A similarly sensational accusation was made by a college student who claimed Spirit Airlines forced her to flush a hamster down the toilet. She charged that it was an emotional support animal. Spirit admitted giving her incorrect information that she could bring the hamster on the plane, but emphatically insists that they did not suggest she release the rodent or flush it down the toilet. They also pointed out that they arranged a later flight on which she could fly so she could make other arrangements for her hamster. We are increasingly concerned by the willingness of the media to report sensational charges and by their belief that they are fulfilling journalistic balance simply by including the denial of a charge. Such reports proliferate on the internet and hang around forever.

Time, “Spirit Airlines Slams Student Who Claims She Was Forced to Flush Emotional Support Hamster Down Toilet,” Feb. 8, 2018

MORE EXAMPLES

A good example comes from the Fairfax, Virginia Republican Party chairman. One of the county’s party officials posted on Facebook, “MAKE FAIRFAX GREAT AGAIN: Having preference for Christians over non-Christians as political leaders is not bigoted. It is a preference and a duty we are allowed.” Chairman Matt Ames wrote a long, eloquent letter to party members about why he demanded that the state official resign. Congratulations.

The Washington Times, “Va. Republican’s ‘preference for Christians’ as political leaders prompts calls for resignation,” Feb. 12, 2018

The brouhaha over PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi’s discussion on the Freakonomics Podcast that women eat Doritos differently from men led to stories that the snack food giant was going to create “lady-friendly” Doritos. PepsiCo was forced to issue a clarifying statement, which it did with a sense of humor via Twitter: “We already have Doritos for women – they’re called Doritos, and they’re enjoyed by millions of people every day.” We include this because it’s apparent Nooyi didn’t rehearse, and because we already use her as a BIMBO comment example in our trainings. During a Fox Business interview she proclaimed, “Doritos are Not Bad for You,” which became the headline. CEOs – listen up! Rehearse! If President Reagan could do it, you can, too.

MSN, “PepsiCo Responds To Social Media Criticism Of ‘Lady Friendly’ Crisps,” Feb. 5, 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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