Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for March 2019


  • Bimbo
  • March 1, 2019
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image a

Great examples to learn from this month. BIMBOs from the founder of Chinese company Huawei Technologies Co., Sen. Thom Tillis and an internet hoaxster. Examples of the “Wrong Thing to Say” from former executive editor of The New York Times Jill Abramson (deliciously defensive) and freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar. Bill Cosby demonstrated how to make your image worse and an expletive directed at Trump caused a Pennsylvania newspaper to drop cartoonist Wiley Miller’s syndicated cartoon. Other examples include a book review by The New York Times opinion columnist Frank Bruni (a review unlike any other), an instance of what we call the law of exceptions and a note about Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s body language during President Trump’s State of the Union address—did she disrespect the president with a hand gesture?

THE WINNING BIMBO

“We’re not racist. We are not homophobic and we are not anti-Trump,” claimed two brothers, Ola and Abel Osundairo. (Empire actor Jussie Smollett made sensational claims that he was attacked by two white men wearing MAGA hats who put a rope around his neck and yelled racial and homophobic epithets at him. The Chicago Police investigation revealed that Smollett orchestrated the incident himself, paying the brothers $3,500—by check! Besides the two brothers’ BIMBO comment made in a desperate attempt to reposition themselves from enablers to victims themselves, the incident is worth reviewing. The simplest online search provides everything you need for a lesson on how the media jumped on board and amplified Smollett’s narrative. For us, an interesting observation is that the local media, starting with the CBS Chicago affiliate, did a thorough job covering the story while the national media acted disgracefully. A must-see is Jussie’s interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News’ Good Morning America. For 17 minutes, the actor well, acted. He cried and spun an incredibly sophisticated story. There’s so much to critique in the interview—particularly Robin Roberts, who didn’t press him on any of his salacious claims. For us, the crucial moment was when Smollett said, “You do such a disservice when you lie about things like this.”)

CBS Chicago, “Jussie Smollett Case: Clues Into Potential Motive Behind The Attack,” Feb. 18, 2019

THE RUNNERS-UP

“I have never forced myself on anyone ever,” said Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, combatting allegations by two women that he sexually assaulted one and raped another. (This BIMBO comment managed to outshine Fairfax’s contemporary Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, in his own hot water over his inexplicable back-and-forth about whether he appeared in a 1984 medical-school yearbook photo in blackface and next to someone wearing Ku Klux Klan robes. Fairfax continued, “I will not resign,” which ensured he remained the focus of the attention. And to round out the mess, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring came forward to admit that he also once wore blackface to a party when he was a college student. Herring will survive because he didn’t wait to be discovered and expressed his willingness to resign. Although Fairfax is our marquee BIMBO here, we have lessons for all mentioned. Lesson to Fairfax—build bridges before you need them; to Northam—prepare a better strategy and rehearse; to everyone else—find the damaging material of yourself before anyone else does. For more, read Merrie’s in-depth analysis of the Virginia political scandals in The Hill.) 

The Wall Street Journal, “Second Woman Accuses Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Sexual Assault,” Feb. 8, 2019

“America is not covering up for a murder,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while on a diplomatic trip around central Europe. (This could have been the winning BIMBO comment because it exhibits how easy it is to deny, and in the process, repeat a negative word introduced by someone else. In reference to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Sen. Tim Kaine accused the administration of “aiding in the coverup of a murder.” Reporters asked Pompeo about Kaine’s criticism—which we categorize as a quote question—and Pompeo spit back, “Senator Kaine is just dead wrong. America is not covering up for a murder.” He went on to say that the administration will “… hold all of those responsible accountable.” Had Pompeo acknowledged Kaine’s charge by saying instead, “I’ve heard that,” or “I haven’t heard that,” he would have avoided repeating the salacious word “coverup,” and his comment wouldn’t have made the story.)

The Washington Post, “Pompeo meets with activists who have been targeted by Hungary’s government,” Feb. 11, 2019

“I personally would never harm the interest of my customers,” claimed Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei Technologies Co., a Chinese company that is the world’s biggest supplier of 5G equipment for mobile-computing networks. Huawei was accused of operating as an arm of the Chinese military, as many believe Beijing could use the gear to spy on the world. Zhengfei insisted, “… my company would not answer to such requests.” (Not a lot of credibility here given the proliferation of Chinese-funded suspicious software and devices around the globe.)

The Wall Street Journal, “The Internet, Divided Between the U.S. and China, Has Become a Battleground,” Feb. 9, 2019

“I don’t believe in situational principles,” said Sen. Thom Tillis while explaining his opposition to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency in order to fund the border wall. (On one hand, we agree with Tillis, and don’t want to see future presidents emboldened to declare national emergencies; however, as congressional and political watches, we don’t see what principles aren’t situational. Tillis would have been more believable if he admitted that polling revealed that his constituents don’t like the president’s actions.)

The Washington Post, “Trump declares national emergency on southern border in bid to build wall,” Feb. 15, 2019

“I’m not racist,” said actor Liam Neeson. (This is puzzling, and first we read it as a publicity stunt in an attempt to promote his new movie “Cold Pursuit.” Neeson described an alleged incident that occurred 40 years ago when his female friend was raped by a black male. Neeson said he was so angry that he grabbed a crowbar and ran around pubs for a week looking for an African-American to hassle him so he could “kill him.” This may not rise to the Jussie Smollett situation, but it doesn’t ring true. Neeson should have just explained that as a very talented actor, he can draw up enormous emotional reserves. The claim drove the story and became the headline.)

CNN, “Liam Neeson: ‘I’m not racist,’” Feb. 5, 2019

“I've not created fake accounts or bot armies or anything like that,” said internet hoaxster Jacob Wohl. Recently, Wohl disclosed his plans “to steer the left-wing votes in the primaries to what we feel are weaker candidates compared with Trump” before the 2020 presidential election. He bragged that this plan includes the creation of “‘enormous left-wing properties,’ including Facebook and Twitter accounts.” In response, Twitter confirmed Wohl had already created multiple fake accounts and suspended Wohl from the platform. Lesson? Be careful what you brag about.

USA Today, “Twitter bans Trump-supporting hoaxster after USA TODAY exposé,” Feb. 26, 2019

WRONG THING TO SAY

“I made mistakes,” said Jill Abramson, former executive editor of The New York Times, while plugging her new book, “Merchants of Truth.” The book was found to have a number of missing citations and errors in the footnotes, thus generating allegations of plagiarism. (With apologies for the snarky delight of seeing the self-righteous Abramson squirm while interrogated by left-leaning writers, the defensiveness jumps out of the transcript. When asked by the interviewer, Sean Illing, whether she was “unfair in some of (her) descriptions of various new media reporters,” she protested, “… you’re obviously entitled to your opinion.” She also characterized her multiple infractions as only “mistakes” and claimed, “I don’t think these issues should overshadow what I think is a really interesting book.” Think about this claim—it doesn’t matter if you got the story wrong as long as it’s “interesting.” Isn’t that what the overarching debate about journalism is today? She also said that she didn’t plagiarize because “… it’s not an intentional theft or taking someone’s original ideas—it’s just the facts.” A must read.)

Vox, “‘I made mistakes’: Jill Abramson responds to plagiarism charges around her new book,” Feb. 8, 2019

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” read a now-deleted tweet by newly-elected Rep. Ilhan Omar charging that the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) pays politicians to support Israel. (A wide range of officials and leaders quickly criticized Omar, who has a history of sensational, anti-Semitic comments. In 2012, she wrote, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Although she apologized—sort of—she retains the plum committee assignment on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The other relevant fact: the mainstream media paid scant attention to Omar’s comments. If anyone believes Omar has truly changed her beliefs, we have some ocean front property in Arizona…)

The Hill, “Pelosi, Dem leaders urge Omar to apologize for ‘anti-Semitic’ tweet,” Feb. 11, 2019

“Political prisoner” is how Bill Cosby described himself in a statement released by his press spokesman, in which he also compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and other heroes. (So sad. Cosby was a national figure, “America’s Dad.” This can only make things worse. Cosby made himself look ridiculous when he compared himself to the giants of the civil rights movements, those who really suffered. No matter how stark Cosby’s cell is, we’ll bet it’s more spacious and luxurious than the cell where Mandela spent 27 years.)

CNN,“Bill Cosby says he won’t feel remorse because he’s a ‘political prisoner,’” Feb. 14, 2019

“Some of my sharp-eyed readers have spotted a little Easter egg from Leonardo Bear-Vinci. Can you find it?” read a now-deleted tweet from Wiley Miller, author of the popular “Non Sequitur” cartoon. (Semi-hidden in the lower-right panel of Miller’s daily cartoon appeared a message directed at President Trump, “We fondly say go …” followed by “the F word.” In response, the Pennsylvania paper dropped Miller’s nationally-syndicated strip from its Sunday comics. We love “Non Sequitur,” and we’re puzzled why Miller jeopardized a successful career. In the past, the quirky, occasionally snarky topics of his cartoons weren’t overtly politically insulting.)

USA Today, “Pennsylvania newspaper drops syndicated cartoon over hidden Trump insult,” Feb. 11, 2019

EXAMPLES

“And more people will read the racy headlines about the book than read the book itself,” wrote opinion columnist Frank Bruni. This is one of the truest predictions you will ever read! Bruni reviewed a new book by French journalist Frédéric Martel, titled “‘Sodoma,’ as in Sodom, in Western Europe and ‘In the Closet of the Vatican’ in the United States, Britain and Canada.” Bruni fanned the inflammatory story by including in his column excerpts from Martel’s comments about the book such as, “‘even in San Francisco’s Castro’ there aren’t ‘quite as many gays,’” compared to the number found in the Vatican. Martel also wrote, “The world I am discovering, with its 50 shades of gay, is beyond comprehension.” Bruni predicted the book would generate lots of discussion and be hotly debated, which is certainly true. However, best-selling author Rev. James Martin shared a different perspective in a tweet“Its publication the day before the Vatican’s summit on abuse is also bound to shift attention away from child abuse and onto gay priests in general, once again falsely conflating in people’s minds homosexuality and pedophilia.” In response to a question about his aim, author Martel claimed, “I’m not a Catholic. I don’t have any motive of revenge.” Wow. This is an instance where the book speaks for itself. 

The New York Times, “The Vatican’s Gay Overlords,” Feb. 15, 2019

THE LAW OF EXCEPTIONS

Millions of people including former President Barack Obama watched as Duke University basketball star Zion Williamson fell when his left Nike sneaker split in full view of the cameras. The accident generated attention regarding the influence of shoe companies over college basketball, namely the fat contracts these companies have with colleges so the schools’ unpaid athletes will wear only their brands. Nike described what happened to the shoe as “an isolated occurrence.” This only caused commentators to recall that in 2015 a marathon runner had a similar experience when his shoe insoles came loose. The problem with referring to the incident as an “isolated occurrence” is that Nike confirmed that the occurrence does happen, thus prompting every athlete to wonder if he or she will be the next victim. Nike should have said, “Our goal is perfection and every year we get a little closer because we are committed to innovation.” 

The New York Times, “A Star’s Shoe Breaks, Putting College Basketball Under a Microscope,” Feb. 21, 2019

BODY LANGUAGE

When is a clap not a clap? Much has been made of a hand gesture made by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during President Trump’s State of the Union address. Was it a gesture of disrespect? An attempt to jeer at the president? You can decide for yourself. Our opinion is that this is an instance where a still picture was grabbed and labeled based on what the interpreter wanted to see. We watched the entire SOTU (read Merrie’s analysis published in The Hill) and, while Pelosi didn’t look rapturous, she never seemed disrespectful. No eye rolling, no head shaking, no audible or visible signs. Time for that admonition: assume positive intent. 

The New York Times, “Internet Sees a Clapback in Nancy Pelosi’s Applause of Trump,” Feb. 6, 2019 

 

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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