Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees For May 2019


  • Bimbo
  • May 1, 2019
  • by Spaeth Communications

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BIMBOs from DC luminary lawyer Greg Craig, former aide to Hillary Clinton Neera Tanden, Twitter and Facebook spokespersons and an anti-gun activist group. A New York restauranteur hopeful learned the power of a word. A basketball player got good advice from Steve Kerr, a Boston Globe contributor advocated for food tampering. The Boy Scouts of America provided an example of a misuse of statistics, and we offer advice for presidential candidate Joe Biden.

The WINNING BIMBO

“I’m not afraid at all of these people,” said Energy Transfer CEO Kelcy Warren. (The billionaire co-founded Energy Transfer, one of the country’s most successful midstream energy companies. He has feuded for years with environmental activists and investors. The comment was aimed at the groups seeking to stop his efforts to build the major Dakota Access Pipeline. He added, “They are going to pay for this.” We’ve awarded Warren the winner this month because the lengthy article emphasized these combative comments, made in a CNBC interview with anchor Brian Sullivan. Warren should have spent his interview emphasizing the efficiency and safety of pipelines and the importance of crude oil to the economy.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “The Billionaire Behind the Dakota Access Pipeline Is a Little Lonely,” March 27, 2019

THE RUNNERS-UP

“This is not political,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) about the effort to obtain President Trump’s tax returns. (OK. This wins the “you can’t say this with a straight face” category. Note the quote also made it into the headline.)

The Hill, “Top Dem on push for Trump’s tax returns: ‘This is not political,’” April 7, 2019

“I am not biased toward Boeing,” said Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, recently cleared by the Pentagon’s inspector general of inappropriately pushing contracts toward Boeing, his former employer. (This is a lesson in remembering who’s the audience and the importance of leadership. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington accused Shanahan of “repeatedly champion(ing) Boeing’s aircraft over Lockheed Martin’s in official conversations.” This was relayed from person-to-person and interpreted as pushing the contract towards Boeing. Shanahan should have kept his comment confined to his next phrase, “I’m biased toward performance.”)

Vox, “Trump’s acting defense secretary has been cleared of an ethics violation,” April 25, 2019

“I did not participate in a scheme to mislead the government or conceal material facts,” said Former White House Counsel Greg Craig, who served President Obama and led President Bill Clinton’s legal team during his impeachment proceedings. Craig was indicted for not disclosing work he performed for the Ukrainian government. (We admit, Craig is a favorite bad example of ours—and those of you familiar with our trainings will remember the “Perjury” structure video example—but this raises a very common challenge, particularly for lawyers. Framing a response for a court of law and legal pleadings risks a different audience, the public, hearing something very different. Our preference is to say, “I was careful to follow the rules as I understood them.” Of course, this has to be true.)

Chicago Tribune, “Ex-Obama White House counsel Greg Craig indicted in investigation that grew out of Mueller probe,” April 11, 2019

“I didn’t slug him, I pushed him,” said Neera Tanden, a former aide on Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign, about an altercation with Faiz Shakir, campaign manager for Bernie Sanders. (The background: Tanden and Shakir, then chief editor of the ThinkProgress website, got into a dispute during the 2008 primary. Tanden was reported to be so angry after Shakir asked Clinton a question about the Iraq war that she physically hit Shakir, or—as she explains now—just pushed him. This is an example of how negative comments push out anything else and get repeated. She should have said, “We were angry, but that was then, this is now, and we have more important things to focus on.”)

The New York Times, “The Rematch: Bernie Sanders vs. a Clinton Loyalist,” April 15, 2019

“We do not shadow ban,” said Twitter spokespersons Vijaya Gadde and Kayvon Beykpour responding to criticism when Twitter suspended the account for the movie “Unplanned.” The movie tells the story of former Planned Parenthood employee who became a pro-life activist after witnessing an abortion procedure at 13 weeks. Despite being shunned by traditional entertainment media, the movie received a very enthusiastic reception. Twitter’s suspicious move on the film’s opening weekend and its denial that the brief suspension was intentional was not well received but is part of a larger debate about social media platforms and their role as editors or aggregators. Another Twitter executive, Carlos Monje Jr., director of public policy, was hauled up on Capitol Hill to answer to multiple charges of discriminating against conservatives. Monje said that Twitter “does not use political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation” when making decisions. A Facebook executive sounded the same note when he said, “Facebook does not favor one political viewpoint over another, nor does Facebook suppress conservative speech.” Now, we’ll see what happens going forward.)  

The Wall Street Journal, “An ‘Unplanned’ Twitter Outage,” April 1, 2019

“We’re not interested in shaming banks or running a campaign focused on how evil they are,” said Igor Volsky, founder and executive director of Guns Down America, which is devoted to—you guessed it—shaming banks with ties to various manufacturers, retailers and trade groups connected to firearms. (Shame on Guns Down America for trying to extort what they consider desirable behavior. For once, kudos to Wells Fargo. The bank pointed out that it supported efforts to improve school safety but added, “We do not believe that the American public wants banks to decide which legal products consumers can and cannot buy.” We agree.)

The New York Times, “Gun Control Group’s Report Card on U.S. Banks’ Firearms Ties Has Several Fs,” April 4, 2019

POWER OF A WORD

A health coach who opened a Chinese restaurant in New York found out the hard way about the power of a word—as well as the ferocity of those charging “cultural appropriation.” (Arielle Haspel opened Lucky Lee’s and advertised “clean” Chinese food, a descriptor she explained is “all about finding a healthier alternative to your favorite indulgent food.” Yet, wow, did she pay a price. While we think the current fad to attack people for adapting or including other cultures has gotten out of hand, we think she did ask for trouble by describing her Chinese food as “clean,” as it played into the perception that traditional Chinese cuisine is unhealthy. Worth noting that Haspel claimed to have named the restaurant after her husband, whose first name is Lee, but we can’t imagine she didn’t also want to play up other stereotypical associations. Note the offending word made it into the headline.)

The New York Times, “A White Restauranteur Advertised ‘Clean’ Chinese Food. Chinese-Americans Had Something to Say About It,” April 12, 2019

WRONG THING TO SAY – AND SOME GOOD ADVICE

“Next question,” is what basketball player Russell Westbrook has been replying to a local reporter for several years. His beef with The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel goes back several years. (Warriors coach Steve Kerr weighed in and advised Westbrook to cut it out saying, “You don’t have to give a great answer, but it’s dangerous when you go down that path of no communication.” He’s 100 percent right and echoes our lessons in the use of Acknowledgement PhrasesSM and having rehearsed, well-prepared responses at the ready for whatever question a reporter throws your way. Listen to Steve.)

Basketball Forever, “Steve Kerr Calls Out Russell Westbrook For Being An Asshat In The Media,” April 22, 2019

“ … not pissing in Bill Kristol’s salmon” was what freelance journalist and regular contributor to the Boston Globe Luke O’Neil described as one of his “biggest regrets” in life. O’Neil’s comment triggered an avalanche of criticism, some directed at his comment and some at the Globe, which—finally—after first revising the piece, pulled it entirely. (We’re in the camp criticizing the sentiment. O’Neil is part of the contingent urging others to confront and harass elected officials like Sen. Ted Cruz and his wife or White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in public places to drive them out. There’s no place for that in a civilized society.)

The Washington Post, “A column suggested waiters could ‘tamper’ with Trump officials’ food. Amid backlash, the Boston Globe pulled it,” April 12, 2019

“No one is mainstreaming anti-Zionism or anti-Semitic argument. It's hardly as if our pages resemble those of Der Sturmer ... ” tweeted New York Times columnist Michael Powell in defense of The New York Times, which ran a cartoon depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuas as a guide dog leading a blind President Trump. In case you still don’t get it, in the cartoon the Star of David hangs around Netanyahu’s neck. Mercifully the cartoon kicked up a storm of protest (despite the weak tone of Powell’s quote), and there is nothing The New York Times could have said to redeem this.

STATISTICS

Illustrating what we call the “law of exceptions” for numbers, the Boy Scouts of America defended itself against charges of child sex abuse over decades by saying that there were “five known victims in 2018 out of roughly 2.2 million youth members.” The problem with this description is that it prompts every parent to wonder, “Could it be my child?” and the hedge word “known” describing victims. Remember Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld? The catch is what he called the “unknown unknowns.”

The Associated Press, “Boy Scouts: Handful of sex-abuse cases emerged in 2018,” April 24, 2019  

APOLOGIES

Apologies are a unique category and Former Senator, Vice President and now-presidential candidate Joe Biden is featured in the Apologies category this month for two reasons. First, for a video where he—sort of—apologized for his penchant to hug and kiss over the years. By the way, he hugs men, too. A number of women, mostly associated with his competitors, have come forward to criticize him. In his video response in which he didn’t really apologize, he said he would “be more mindful.” We’re with him here. There is not a shred of indication that any of his gestures were sexually intended or classified as harassment. Women—and men—if you don’t want to be hugged, extend your hand and shake vigorously. Next, Biden called Anita Hill, the lawyer who famously in 1991 testified in the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas, during which Hill charged Thomas with sexual harassment. Biden chaired those hearings, and it’s become an article of faith on the Left that he didn’t give her enough respect. Apparently, Biden reached out to Hill via phone prior to his presidential announcement to express “his regret for what she endured” 28 years ago. Yet, in an interview following the phone call, Hill said she wasn’t satisfied with his apology and noted she doesn’t believe he has taken full responsibility for his behavior during the hearings. Problem here: it was decades ago, and he waited until now to change his mind? Biden isn’t looking for advice from us, but here it is anyway: if you want to be president, stake out your position as defending what you did in the past. Let the avalanche of criticism roll over you. It will be brutal, but you may attract enough independents to participate in the primary to get the nomination, and then you will be truly competitive for President Trump.

BuzzFeed News, “Joe Biden Says He’ll Be ‘More Mindful’ About Personal Space After Allegations Of Inappropriate Contact,” April 3, 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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