Bimbo Banter

BIMBO Nominees for October 2016

  • Bimbo
  • October 6, 2016
  • by Spaeth Communications

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Another banner month for verbal blunders! BIMBOs from Fed Chairman Yellen, Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh, an Emory ethnobotanist and Maine Governor LePage. Wrong Thing to Say features the colorful Philippines president with the addition of an A+ response by President Obama. As usual, there are lots of examples of how a bad word will get repeated. In the campaign section, the Trump, Clinton and Johnson campaigns managed numerous contributions.


“I disagree with the fact that this is a massive fraud,” said Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf during a marathon hearing before Congress trying to explain why the bank opened millions of accounts without customers’ permission. (This is a BP-level case study of corporate screw-ups. Stumpf’s testimony was rich with BIMBOs and dreadful performance. “I do want to make very clear that there was no orchestrated effort or scheme as some have called it, by the company. We never directed nor wanted our employees, whom we refer to as team members to provide products and services that they did not want or need,” he said. Stumpf’s Q&A with Members is too long to reproduce here but is worth filing under “how to coach the boss on what not to do” with mealy mouth responses flowing. For example, he was asked if the fake accounts hurt customers’ credit scores and responded, “I don’t know the algorithms.” Particularly damaging was his failure to pro-actively deal with the millions in compensation and bonuses he recieved. It was entirely predictable that the company board would react to pressure and, before the month’s end, they cancelled $40 million of the CEO’s compensation.)

USA Today, “Wells Fargo CEO refuses to push for exec pay clawback,” Sept. 20, 2016


“I don’t think there’s a safety problem,” said Allegiant Air’s COO about accusations that the airline was compromising safety by using old aircraft. (This is the runner-up BIMBO because it’s not only a BIMBO but on the very worst topic for an airline executive to mess up. Safety should always be the priority topic. Plus, this article featured an Allegiant pilot who performed an unscheduled landing after smoke filled the cabin. Although the pilot carried a handicapped passenger to safety, the airline fired him.)

The Washington Post, “Allegiant Air, with ultra-low fares, draws FAA’s attention over safety concerns,” Sept. 1, 2016

“The media has painted this as I’m anti-American, anti-men-and-women of the military and that’s not the case at all,” said San Francisco 49ers back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick, responding to criticism when he refused to stand for the national anthem. (Classic case where he should have said he was pro-American. Note that the characterization became the headline.)

USA Today, “Colin Kaepernick: I’m not anti-American, will donate $1 million,” Sept. 2, 2016

“I can say emphatically that partisan politics play no role in our decisions,” said Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen countering presidential candidate Donald Trump’s contention that the Fed was indeed politically motivated.  (Anyone wondering what motivates the Fed should immediately subscribe to Danielle DiMartino Booth’s newsletter. Danielle was chief adviser to Dallas Fed CEO Richard Fisher, the chief hawk in the Fed system arguing that the institution had kept interest rates near zero for far too long. We agree with critics who describe the Fed’s actions as being driven by misguided philosophy. When did philosophy become partisan? About four years ago, in our view.)

USA Today, “Yellen hits back at Trump: Fed not ‘politically compromised,’” Sept. 21, 2016

“Defendants’ political beliefs are not on trial,” said the attorney for Ammon Bundy, the rancher who gained national attention by occupying a national wildlife refuge. (Bundy’s contention was that the federal government was overstepping its authority in possessing tens of thousands of acres of western land. He tapped into fury that westerners feel at the federal government but they should have taken a lesson from Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi and left their firearms at home. If they took possession without guns, public sentiment would have been on their side. And of course, their political beliefs are at the core of perception. The Occupy Wall Street people did the same thing – but smarter.)

The New York Times, “Oregon Refuge Occupiers Were Protesting, Lawyer Says,” Sept. 13, 2016

“I have never eaten a booger in my life,” said Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh after a video of him apparently picking his nose and then, yes, putting his fingers in my mouth, went viral. (This is an example of something we think should have been ignored. By responding to it, it only gave the story new life. Worse, Coach Harbaugh felt compelled to explain, “If you rub your nose and then bite your fingernail, that’s not eating a booger.”)

Detroit Free Press, “Jim Harbaugh: Seriously, I don’t eat my boogers,” Sept. 13, 2016

“Let’s first get something straight: I did not sexually harass anyone (of course). And second, I did not know about any sexual harassment and keep it secret,” wrote former Fox News star Greta Van Susteren on her blog. Van Susteren was apparently ousted after defending former CEO Roger Ailes. Remember, Ailes was dumped after fired host Gretchen Carlson filed charges of sexual harassment against him. (We’re puzzled why Greta had to go. Of course, it’s the wrong thing to say. She should have said that she felt Ailes acted appropriately towards her.)

The Wrap, “Greta Van Susteren Out at Fox News,” Sept. 6, 2016

“I’m not coming back to Indonesia to create fear,” said Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, returning to the country for a second stint after being forced out for trying to impose anti-corruption measures a few years ago. (This may be the rare example of wanting people to hear the negative. Although she has the backing of President Joko Widodo, she should want to scare the heebeegeebees out of the well-documented culture of tax evasion and self-dealing.)

Bloomberg Businessweek, “Hide the Ferrari, Pay Your Tax: Jakarta Graft-Buster Is Back,” August 29, 2016

“We’re showing it isn’t witchcraft or voodoo medicine,” said Emory University ethnobotanist Cassandra Quave about her work developing medicine from previously undiscovered plants, dirt or other substances. (A stunningly impressive article and description of important work but we hadn’t even thought of witchcraft until she mentioned it.)

The New York Times Magazine, “Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to the Looming Antibiotics Crisis?,” Sept. 14, 2016

“We don’t play games,” said FBI Director James Comey responding to criticism about the Bureau’s handling of former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private server and concealing her emails. After several months, the Bureau released their report about why they did not proceed with a referral to the Department of Justice. (This is painful because of my own history with the FBI. I’m not commenting on the director’s comments trying to explain what is inexplicable to non-investigators; however, the director did write to the agency’s employees and the communique is a good example of internal communication.)

The Blaze, “’We Don’t Play Games’: FBI’s Comey Defends Decision to Release Clinton Notes Ahead of Holiday Weekend,” Sept. 7, 2016


“Hitler massacred three million Jews…there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” said Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte defending his tough policy towards drug dealers. (Predictably, Jewish groups were immediately and harshly critical.  President Duterte also gained international attention by calling President Obama “a son of a wh***.” This actually puts President Obama in good company, since Duterte called Pope Francis the same thing and called US Ambassador Philip Goldberg “a gay son of a wh***.” Be sure to check this example out because President Obama did a great job saying he had heard of the incident and that it confirmed that Duterte was “a colorful guy.”  Perhaps Trump could take a lesson from the president? Don’t react to every stupid comment!)

BBC News, “Jewish leaders react to Rodrigo Duterte Holocaust remarks,” Sept. 30, 2016

“Terrorism” was the word of contention after a bomb was planted in the Chelsea area of Manhattan. Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to characterize the act as “terrorism,” calling it an “intentional act.” (New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to split the difference saying it was, “Obviously an act of terrorism,” adding “we find no Islamic State connection.” It’s much too early to claim the perpetrators weren’t motivated by radical Islam. We’ll bet that most people think it’s “terrorism” and just want the government to do something about it. De Blasio’s comment about it being “intentional” is insulting. Of course a pressure cooker explosive device detonated by cellphone was deliberately done.)

USA Today, “Experts say NYC attack was terrorism,” Sept. 19, 2016

“Hoax” was the word characterizing the revelation that a writer/entertainer Laura Albert was the character JT LeRoy who had been presented to the world as a real person, saying “I reject the word ‘hoax.’” (Actually, “hoax” is exactly what Albert perpetrated. She’s separated from reality, claiming, “The books are real. They may be fiction ‘with a little extra.’” Huh?  Albert should have come clean, admitted she created LeRoy and claimed it was performance art and noted that she certainly got people’s attention.)

Salon, “’I reject the word ‘hoax’” Laura Albert opens up about creating JT LeRoy,” Sept. 9, 2016

“KKK” is such an inflammatory acronym that when the mayor of a small Oklahoma city thought that a Halloween costume that was supposed to be the tin man from the Wizard of Oz was actually a baby Klansman outfit, people freaked out. (It’s an example of political correctness run amok. However, it’s also an example of an apology we like: the publisher of the newspaper that carried the picture on its cover wrote, “I don’t have a formal apology but here’s what I will say, if you were offended by the photo I’m sorry you didn’t see what I saw or what I’m sure what many other people saw— a child dressed as an iconic character from one of the most beloved films of the Twentieth Century.” Naturally, someone threatened to call in the NAACP.), “Tin Man costume mistaken as KKK hood,” August 31, 2016

“Racist” is another word guaranteed to cause people to see red, in this case, Maine Governor Republican Paul LePage. He created headlines and a political firestorm by threatening a Democratic state representative who supposedly called him a “racist.” (The Rep actually said that the governor made “racially charged comments.” We don’t see the difference but apparently LePage does. Once again, the Maine governor said the wrong thing when he blurted out, “I will no longer speak to the press ever again.” This was a stupid thing to say and it’s not the first time, the second time, nor, we suspect, the last. Someone should show him Nixon’s press conference where he said the press “wouldn’t have Nixon to kick around.” Notice that the verbiage became a story, crowding out what a governor should want the people talking about, and the comment became the headline.)

USA Today, “Maine Gov. LePage says he will not speak to reporters anymore,” August 31, 2016


“Bigot” is yet another word that will generate controversy and repetition. (Sen. Marco Rubio was asked if he was worried that Hillary Clinton called Donald Trump a “bigot.” He replied, “Democrats have been calling Republicans bigoted for a long time.” Rather than repeat “bigoted,” he should have said “Democrats have been using sensational words to deflect attention and run away from their own dismal records for a long time.”)

Real Clear Politics, “Rubio: Democrats Have Been Calling Republicans “Bigoted” For A Long Time,” August 30, 2016

“Racism” was tossed around during the Ohio Trump campaign chairman’s attack on Black Lives Matter as “a stupid waste of time.” She also claimed there was “no racism” before President Obama was elected. When asked why African-Americans had low voter turnout, Kathy Miller opined “It could be the way they’re raised.” (Stupid and predictable that it would crowd out any positive messages about Trump’s proposals for the economy.)

The Guardian, “Ohio Trump campaign chair Kathy Miller says there was ‘no racism’ before Obama,” Sept. 22, 2016

“I know I can be perceived as aloof or cold or unemotional….I don’t view myself as cold or unemotional,” wrote candidate Clinton in an interview with Humans of New York. She was describing allegedly discriminatory behavior she experienced as a law school student. While we don’t doubt the kind of encounter she described was common, repeating the negative words only propagates them.)

Facebook, “Humans of New York,” Sept. 8, 2016

“There is nothing wrong with what we’re doing,” said Bill Clinton about the Clinton Foundation as he tried to fend off criticisms over revelations that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, granted special access to foreign governments and others. (The Clinton Foundation has largely skated by their distinctly uncharitable practices of serving as a resting place for highly-paid Clinton staff. The former president’s quote only serves to lead the listener to think more about what they could be doing wrong.)

CNN Politics, “Bill Clinton on foundation: ‘There is nothing wrong with what we’re doing,’” Sept. 13, 2016

“I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect. A 70-year-old person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still d**king bimbos at home (according to the NYP),” wrote former Secretary of State and respected General Colin Powell in a leaked email that may have been the result of a Russian hack. (Lesson obviously is that anything you create in an email may go astray. Our own advice to clients? If you mention someone in an email, text or social media posting, eventually that person—or a wider audience—will see it. As a National Cyber Security Month reminder, treat your private written communications as if they’re public!)

The Hill, “Powell in leaked email slams Bill Clinton on continuing affairs with ‘bimbos,’” Sept. 14, 2016

“Panic” was the word circulated by the Clinton campaign when it looked as if the Trump campaign was polling even. Numerous publications and writers simultaneously wrote that “It’s not time to panic.” The words turned up in the LA Times, The New Yorker, The Hill, The Washington Post and others. (It’s fun to be able to watch how bad words get repeated across publications and across the country, and also a reminder of their power.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Political Anxiety Disorder,” Sept. 7, 2016

“The caricature as dishonest, greedy and overly ambitious is unfair and inaccurate,” wrote Michael O’Hanlon in a column defending Hillary Clinton with a very personal endorsement of her concern for the writer’s autistic child. (A moving and highly persuasive testimonial but one that should not have repeated the negative words. Unfortunately, the bad words become the headline, which is all most people will absorb.)

USA Today, “Don’t believe what you hear about Clinton: Column,” Sept. 19, 2016

“I’m not a protest vote,” Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson told USA Today. (Wrong, wrong, wrong thing to say. Note it became the headline. He should have used his opportunity to state the positive, “I am a credible alternative” and outline some of his policies and proposals.)

USA Today, “Q&A: Gary Johnson on why he's not a protest vote,” Sept. 26, 2016

“Aleppo moment,” is entering the lingua franca to signify that a candidate had a momentary brain freeze. After an interviewer asked Gary Johnson what he would do about Aleppo, he responded, “What is Aleppo?” (Aleppo is, of course, a Syrian city being blown apart by Russia and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Making it worse, MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked Johnson to name one international leader he respected, and he couldn’t think of one. Terrible briefing. Knowing that foreign policy is the former governor’s weakness, surely he would have been briefed about America’s allies and global hot spots. Another example of why it’s important to rehearse.)

NPR, “WATCH: Asked to name Foreign Leader He Admired, Johnson has Another ‘Aleppo Moment,’” Sept. 29, 2016


Comedian Amy Schumer got into an argument on Twitter after she responded to a comment by actress Lena Dunham about whether African-American men are more likely to verbally harass women than white men. Rather than reproduce all the various comments and criticisms, the lesson is that any social media comment with racial overtones is likely to get picked up. Although Schumer deleted her tweet, it lives on and became a media story on its own.

MIC, “Amy Schumer just tweeted (and deleted) a racist lie about men of color catcalling,” Sept. 6, 2016

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