Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for May 2016

  • Bimbo
  • May 5, 2016
  • by Spaeth Communications

This month’s memo is huge, it’s tremendous, it’s the best ever….. Ok, ok I’m channeling our perpetual BIMBO Donald Trump, but we’ve got a great campaign section yet again. Additional gaffes come from President Obama, the Department of Energy spokesperson and athlete Julie Miller. Examples of the Wrong Thing to Say from a presidential candidate in the Philippines, a member of the Labour Party and the president of San Diego State University. We debut a new category: So Bad, It’s Good– which includes examples from actor Johnny Depp and his wife Amber Heard and Penn State’s head football coach.


“No, I’m not comfortable with Goofy Uncle Joe,” said Vice President Biden. This is the winning BIMBO because it’s classic; CNBC’s John Harwood interviewed Biden asking, “So you’re comfortable with being Goofy Uncle Joe,” and he spit it back. (This called for an acknowledgment, “on the contrary,” followed by a competitive or substitute comment. Biden got halfway there by saying, “The so-called Goofy Uncle Joe, if you notice, I beat every Republican in every poll when they thought I was running.” He shouldn’t have repeated “Goofy Uncle Joe.”)

The Hill, “Biden: I’m not ‘Goofy Uncle Joe,’” April 19, 2016


“We’re not asking for any special treatment,” said Bob Hinton, attorney to former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, after his client was indicted on a charge of misdemeanor assault. (This is about the lawyer’s comments only. Hinton continued, “Johnny is coming around. He is awfully young, and he is thrust into the maturation process.” Predictably the comments were widely and deservedly ridiculed. At 23, Manziel is old enough to know better. His lawyer should have made a more aggressive claim—that Manziel had committed to turning his life around.)

The Dallas Morning News, “Manziel is set to plead not guilty to assault,” April 26, 2016

“I don’t think it has aged me spiritually or mentally,” President Obama said in an interview with Fox News. (As so often happens, the President had a positive message, “The degree to which every part of you is tested and engaged, that keeps you young.”) Note that the word “aged” became the headline.

The Hill, “Obama: Presidency hasn’t aged me,” April 10, 2016      

“We’re not going to stop the services and go plant bananas or something. People do make mistakes. So do we, and so does our compliance department,” said Jürgen Mossack, co-founder of Mossack Fonseca, regarding the now-infamous release of the Panama Papers. (Aside from the snide “plant bananas” comment, noting that their compliance department made “mistakes” is asking for trouble. He should have said, “We understand the high level of integrity and compliance required for a global firm, and our goal is always striving to meet those standards.” That asserts the aspiration goal without claiming the firm has actually achieved it.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Co-Founder of Mossack Fonseca Defends Law Firm at Center of ‘Panama Papers,’” April 7, 2016

“I will stop you there and say that I didn’t say that I didn’t do anything wrong. That situation occurred and that situation was handled but saying that I did nothing wrong is a stretch but saying I am innocent is correct. Yes sir,” said former Dallas Cowboys’ player Greg Hardy regarding his domestic violence case. What? (This was a confusing story. Hardy claimed, “I never put my hand on any woman,” which would seem to be a denial of the alleged incident, but the comment above seems to confirm it did happen. Lawyers should have prevented this by requiring Hardy to rehearse and determine message consistency. This is the worst of all possibilities: he makes a strong claim and then contradicts himself.)

ESPN, “Greg Hardy says in ESPN interview he has never hit a woman,” April 5, 2016

“There’s no conspiracy around it,” said artist Jeff Heldt who designed a license plate showing the Nebraska Sower using an image from a university’s relief sculpture. (This is an example where the speaker was stringing clauses together and just spit out the negative comment. He also said, “There weren’t a lot of great pictures of the sower online and that was one of the more detailed ones.” This is why it’s important to rehearse.)

Associated Press, “Nebraska halts production of widely mocked license plate,” April 2, 2016

“It’s not as if someone’s being forced to live somewhere nice because there’s no other place available,” said the national director of student housing at real estate giant CBRE after being asked about the trend of luxury dorms and student housing. (This is a confused and inappropriate comment. She should have said, “Students have high expectations and a number of choices. These facilities help an institution compete for a variety of students.)  

Quartz, “More US college students are living a life of indolent, hedonistic luxury,” April 2, 2016

“The United States will not be Iran’s customer forever,” said a Department of Energy spokeswoman answering controversy about the U.S. buying heavy water, crucial to Iran’s nuclear program. (Iran is supposed to reduce its stock of heavy water as part of the landmark deal with the U.S. This is a damaging quote because it implied the U.S. is making the purchase to make it easy for the rogue nation. The spokesperson did say that the administration hoped this would signal to other countries that they could purchase the substance for developing electronics and medical procedures. Again, stick to this.)

Reuters, “U.S. to buy heavy water from Iran’s nuclear program,” April 23, 2016

“I did not cheat in the Whistler Ironman competition, nor would I ever cheat or have I ever cheated in any competition,” said Julie Miller. (This is an interesting example of psychology as well as predictable communication. Miller was a well-respected and capable amateur before being unmasked as a cheater during her participation in various Ironman competitions. The tale of assembling the evidence is interesting, but even more interesting is its overwhelming proof of her misdeeds and then her adamant and continuing denial – where the word “cheat” became the quote and the headline. To us, this appears to be one of those situations where the speaker has convinced herself and assembled a narrative from which she will not budge. Companies that face this should analyze the psychology of these situations rather than the facts. Lance Armstrong, anyone?)

The New York Times, “Swim. Bike. Cheat?” April 8, 2016


“Solution for Israel-Palestine conflict. Relocate Israel into the United States... The transportation costs will be less than 3 years of defence spending” said United Kingdom Labour MP Naz Shah in a Facebook post recently unearthed from 2014. (The interesting thing about this example is that the snotty comment stayed in the background for two years before causing a ruckus. The party leaders waffled all around, claiming that Shah typed out comments against her own beliefs. Really? Her hands took on a life of their own? Leaders ultimately suspended her from the party. As to what she should have done? We think the answer is obvious, but worth reminding readers: treat anything you say or write as if it’s public and discoverable, especially on social media.)

The Telegraph, “Naz Shah, Labour anti-Semitism... and a piece of spin that will make your jaw drop,” April 28, 2016

“I don’t think they’re saying our students are terrorists. If there was a statement that our students were terrorists and they weren’t, I would certainly condemn that,” said San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman. (The controversy began when students from the David Horowitz Freedom Center hung posters around campus with a list of student names, accusing them of terrorism. The posters and related comments in the student newspaper were insulting and probably untrue, but it seems to us an issue of free speech, especially on a university campus.)

KGTV San Diego, “SDSU students corner President Hirshman in car, demand response for anti-Islamic flyers,” April 27, 2016

“I was angry because she was raped, that’s one thing. But she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste,” said Mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte, in reference to himself. (What can people be thinking? Duterte, who is a serious presidential candidate in the Philippines was talking about a 1989 prison uprising where inmates took hostages including the aforementioned Australian lay minister who was raped and killed during the incident. The comment predictably caused an outcry – but Duterte remains a credible candidate. He tried to get out of it by claiming he was angry. When that didn’t work, he tried to tough it out. He refused to apologize, stating “This is how men talk.” We cannot think of any advice to provide other than he should have never said it, or even thought it, in the first place.)

The Washington Post, “Leading Philippine presidential contender: Gang rape victim ‘so beautiful’ he wishes he had ‘been first,’” April 18, 2016

Talk about a flipper. Donald Trump’s first wife, Ivana, has reconciled with her former husband but certainly didn’t do him any favors in a recent New York Post article. Ivana said, “As long as you come here legally and get a proper job . . . we need immigrants. Who’s going to vacuum our living rooms and clean up after us? Americans don’t like to do that,” and “I don’t think he’s feminist…he loves women. But not a feminist.” Ivana’s reps called the Post two days after the interview to clarify that Donald was a feminist. Then they called to say he wasn’t. An hour later, they said he was.)

New York Post, “Ivana Trump on how she advises Donald—and those hands,” April 3, 2016


“He looked like he was auditioning for the Godfather,” said Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, about a video PSA done by actor Johnny Depp and his wife, Amber Heard. (This is an example of something so bad, it became effective. Depp and his spouse, flying private, tried to sneak their two dogs into Australia without submitting them to the required vet examination and quarantine. As part of the punishment, they agreed to do a PSA about the importance of observing Australia’s biosecurity laws. The performance was so dead and staged that it went viral and was widely mocked. That’s bad. However, if the goal was to make people aware of the risks of ignoring quarantine regulations, it succeeded far beyond what a typical boring PSA could accomplish. We were initially critical, but we stand corrected.)

ABC, “Johnny Depp and Amber Heard apology video, ‘like auditioning for the Godfather’: Barnaby Joyce,” April 19, 2016

“No Talent Required,” was the message via Twitter from Penn State’s head football coach. It was picked up by a popular sports blog, generating all sorts of mockery and bewilderment. The idea was apparently to stress the importance of perseverance and hard work, not that you could play competitive college football with “no talent.” (The message would have probably gotten lost if it hadn’t been picked up and criticized. Another example of something initially categorized as a bad idea and flop, but in terms of getting attention, it was a success.)

SB Nation, “‘No talent required” to play football at Penn State, per recruiting graphic,” March, 31, 2016

“Not a ‘10’ in the US? Then not a 10 overseas. Beware of being lured into buying expensive drinks or worse—being robbed. #springbreakingbadly” read a tweet from the U.S. State Department. It generated a tide of charges that the attitude was sexist. While the U.S. Statement Department promptly apologized, the genie was already out of the bottle.)

NBC News, “State Department Apologizes for Suggesting Americans Are Ugly,” March 31, 2016


An example for your executives of how a news story gets written. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has been suspected of putting liberal ideology over business-like good governance. A respected reporter, Jim Dwyer, picked up a stray comment from an appointee from the city’s water department to the effect that rehabbing the century-old water tunnels, “was put on hold for budgetary reasons.” Dwyer then interviewed a number of people to assemble a story originally titled, “De Blasio Postpones Work on Crucial Water Tunnel.” The reporter noted, “Last year, Mr. de Blasio’s administration, eager to keep a lid on water and sewer rates that had grown by an average of 8 percent annually under Mr. Bloomberg, moved financing for the third tunnel to other projects.” That caused the De Blasio administration to scramble to explain that they were actually waiting for a more accurate assessment of when more shafts could be dug to allow for activation of the new tunnel. This is an interesting example of how a story can be generated by a pre-existing suspicion or expectation, and is a reminder that every spokesperson, no matter how narrow the operational focus, represents the company or enterprise – in this case, the De Blasio administration--and needs to look at how the audience will hear the comment.

Crain’s New York Business, “De Blasio does damage control in wake of New York Times’ water-tunnel story,” April 6, 2016


Snapchat released a filter that allowed users to take a selfie and alter it to make the user look like the late singer Bob Marley, with dreadlocks, a colorful hat and brown skin.  Their statement “Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music and we respect his life and achievement. [The lens] gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music.” (Predictably, some small users were outraged and claimed Snapchat was promoting "blackface." If you’re looking for an example to show your own executives, we think Snapchat did a good job – first at designing and releasing the filter, then in not backing down from the predictable criticism by people who hate everything. Lesson to learn? Someone will always be outraged. Decide how you’re going to respond beforehand, and hope that the naysayers will help raise the profile of the initiative.)

USA Today, “Snapchat under fire for Marley filter called blackface,” April 21, 2016



“I’ve never told them not to vote for me,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich, fending off criticism of his alliance with Senator Ted Cruz divvying up primary states in hopes of stalling Donald Trump from collecting enough delegates for a first ballot nomination at the Republican convention. (Classic Bimbo comment. Not only did he articulate the message, but it made the headline and was generated by a question from reporters, “Are you telling people not to vote for you?”)

Real Clear Politics, “Kasich on Indiana: ‘I Never Told People Not To Vote For Me, They Ought to Vote For Me,’” April 25, 2016


“This is not cigar chomping, tobacco spitting guys with three piece suits. These are just normal Delawareans, hardworking, retirees,” said a source close to the issue in the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign sent staffer Joe Uddo to lobby Delaware delegates to support Trump. (You would think the Trump campaign would be highly-sensitive to playing to expected fears of trying to bully delegates, yet staffer Joe Uddo attended a meeting of Delaware activists and threatened to bring litigation against them for the structure of the caucus/election process. News reports and unidentified quotes illustrate the risk of this approach. Uddo succeeded in pushing people away who might have come to his side on a second ballot. Note that when asked about the incident, the campaign wouldn’t comment. We know exactly what they should have said, but we’re not going to help. They’ll have to figure it out by themselves.)

Politico, “Trump aide accused of bullying Delaware GOP for delegates,” April 23, 2016

“I’m not trying to knock Donald Trump,” said former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Summit of Transforming Data into Action, later adding, “If you think about it, the federal government does next to nothing.” (Not really Trump’s fault, but another example of how the media is covering the primaries. Any sensational comment makes news and the comments pile up. Meanwhile, there’s almost no discussion of policy proposals and their impact.)

Salon, “Michael Bloomberg: It doesn’t matter who becomes president, “the federal government does next to nothing,’” April 19, 2016

“I’m not going to blow it,” said Trump after winning the New York primary. Trump said he’s ready to be more prepared and presidential. (Let’s hope this turns out to be prescient – as a BIMBO. Despite new campaign staff trumpeting the “new” candidate, he immediately continued with the insulting nicknames and sensational comments. Even the much-vaunted speech on foreign policy – via TelePrompTer – included a number of rambling, incoherent comments as well as soundbites which, if actually used as the foundation for new American foreign policy, could disrupt global relations for years.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Donald Trump Plans to Adopt More-Traditional Campaign Tactics,” April 20, 2016

“They were unaware of the rules and they didn’t register in time. So they feel very, very guilty. They feel very guilty but it’s fine,” said Trump about the revelation that two of his own children, Eric and Ivanka, hadn’t registered to vote. (We love the irony of this. Trump is quite willing to forgive his children’s ignorance of “the rules” but becomes apoplectic about Republican State Parties’ rules about delegate selection, which vary significantly. He daily makes the charge that the process is rigged against him. We’re with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus who tweeted, “Nomination process known for a year + beyond. It’s the responsibility of the campaigns to understand it. Complaints now? Give us all a break.” We guess lack of knowledge of the rules and lack of concern for following them must be genetic.)

NBC News, “Two of Trump’s Kids Missed NY Registration Deadline, Can’t Vote for Dad,” April 11, 2016


“Women don’t lose elections because of sexism,” said historian Nancy Cohen, author of “Breakthrough: The Making of America’s First Woman President,” in a very long interview with The Guardian. (This is a noteworthy example because it again illustrated the tendency for any repeat and denial to become the quote. The whole interview is not very interesting or newsworthy, but it does cover many topics. Which did the editor pick out for the headline? The BIMBO comment!)

The Guardian, “Hillary Clinton’s historic race: ‘Women don’t lose elections because of sexism,’” April, 27, 2016  

Sanders complained that Clinton described him as unqualified to be president. The Clinton campaign issued a statement, “I want to make something very clear:  Hillary never said that. She was asked three times on “Morning Joe” if she thought he was qualified, and not once did she say no.” (But she didn’t say yes! Therefore the audience heard it differently.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Fail to the Chief,” April 8, 2016

“I’ll be honest,” subject line in a Clinton campaign email. “This is one primary I really want to win.” (An example of the perils of the “I’ll be honest,” or “To be honest,” as what’s supposed to be a throwaway phrase. Does this mean up until now, she hasn’t been honest? That’s what a number of the Memo’s readers thought. And Clinton has a big problem with trustworthiness already. She should have just titled it, “I want to win!”)

Hillary Clinton, campaign email, April 15, 2016

We think Mrs. Clinton did a good job in her response to Donald Trump’s efforts to goad her into a response by his “crooked Hillary” nickname. When asked about it, she replied, “He can say whatever he wants to say about me, I really could care less. I don’t respond to Donald Trump and his string of insults about me.” She used the opportunity to reinforce her targeted message points: “What I’m concerned about is how he goes after everybody else. He goes after women. He goes after Muslims. He goes after immigrants. He goes after people with disabilities. He is hurting our unity at home.”  Most of the reports and soundbites we saw used the entire comment, so although the “crooked Hillary” phrase got into the headline, she managed to speak to key audiences.)

ABC News, “Hillary Clinton Says ‘I Really Could Care Less’ About Donald Trump Calling Her ‘Crooked Hillary,’” April 17, 2016

Not really Mrs. Clinton’s fault, but as an example of how sensational comments linked to your name will get passed along. America Ferrara, wrote, “There is a view, often expressed on my social media feeds, which maintains that I am voting for Hillary Clinton because I’m a stupid, uninformed, misguided feminist who only knows how to vote with her ignorant vagina.”… “Maybe this is my vagina’s fault, but maybe I really heart Hillary.” We have no suggestions on what to say.

Huffpost Politics, “Why Hillary Clinton Thrills the Hell Out of Me,” April 18, 2016


“I would stay away from the insinuation that these young people who are inspired by Bernie Sanders are dupes,” said David Axelrod, best known for his work on President Obama’s 2008 campaign, reacting to Hillary Clinton’s line in an interview that she felt “sorry” for young people. Clinton didn’t actually use the word “dupes.” (Just another example of words driving the quotes and therefore the story.)

The Hill, “Axelrod to Clinton: Stop insinuating young Sanders supporters are ‘dupes,’” April 6, 2016

In a long interview covering many topics, the reporter asked for Bernie Sanders’ opinion about whether victims of crimes should be able to sue gun manufacturers. Sanders said, “No, I don’t.” He was then asked if the lawsuit by Sandy Hook parents was “baseless,” and he replied, “It’s not baseless. I wouldn’t use that word,” which is just what he does by repeating it. (Just one more example of how the media conducts interviews; the reporter introduced the word, and Sanders repeated it back, and now the campaign is largely, if not entirely, driven by reporters picking up a word-based quote from one candidate and asking the other to respond to it.)

Mediaite, “Hillary Whacks Bernie on NYDN Interview: He’s Campaigned on Issues He Hasn’t ‘Studied or Understood,’” April 6, 2016

“Medicare-for-all will never happen if we continue to elect corporate Democratic whores who are beholden to big pharma and the private insurance industry instead of us,” said Dr. Paul Song at a Sanders rally. He had to walk back the word “whore” but repeated it again in his statement, “I am very sorry for using the term ‘whore.’” (Example after example of how bad words drive out good ones. And, as usual, note it made the headline.

Talking Points Memo, “Sanders Disavows Surrogate’s ‘Corporate Democratic Whores’ Remark (VIDEO),” April 14, 2016

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