Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for October 2018


  • Bimbo
  • October 1, 2018
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image e

Lots of material this month. Additional BIMBOs from author Max Boot, White House senior staff, Michael Avenatti, a UK reality TV star, former president Barack Obama and more. Examples of the power of bad words include those from Elon Musk, Gwyneth Paltrow's company Goop, a Sesame Street writer and President Duterte of the Philippines. You'll also find a body language example from the Kavanaugh hearings, an example of bad optics courtesy of The Weather Channel and a nice use of humor from Cathay "Paciic" (yes that's right, no 'f').

THE WINNER

“I think once you meet me, you realize I’m not necessarily some soft yoga guy,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who ran against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in 2016 and is considering a run for president in 2020. (Ryan has appropriated President Trump’s language, adding, “…I’m tired of losing” and “Maybe the country needs a scrapper, a guy who’s not going to take any prisoners…” Ryan gained notoriety as an advocate for mindfulness. He is the author of a book titled “A Mindful Nation” and has sponsored deep-breathing and mediation programs for veterans in his district suffering from PTSD. We hope he takes a deep breath before launching his campaign.)

The Hill, “Ohio Dem: ‘I’m not necessarily some soft yoga guy,’” Sept. 9, 2018

THE RUNNERS-UP

“Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology…,” said the search giant in a statement responding to leaked employee emails. In response to the travel ban instituted by the Trump administration in January 2017, employees discussed how to tweak the company’s search functions to direct people to liberal groups and show users how to donate to pro-immigration organizations. (This topic isn’t going away and we can probably count on more leaked emails. This demonstrates why companies can’t say something for external audiences that isn’t true. Today, the line between internal and external communications is very blurred. Google should have said that they are redoubling their efforts to ensure that the company behaves in a manner to justify public confidence and trust.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Google Workers Discussed Tweaking Search Function to Counter Travel Ban,” Sept. 20, 2018

“The EU should be clear, I will not overturn the result of the referendum, nor will I break up my country,” said UK Prime Minister Theresa May about news that the UK and EU were at an impasse negotiating Brexit. (Maybe it’s just that we’re writing this in London this month, but we have a lot of respect for how May is handling herself. We’re watching closely.)

The Telegraph, “Defiant Theresa May tells EU 'show us some respect' as she refuses to back down on Brexit plan,” Sept. 21, 2018

“I want to stress I was not an ‘alt-right’ provocateur when I was at Berkeley. I was not promoting racism or nativism. I was not saying batshit crazy stuff to ‘own the libtards,’” said author Max Boot in an interview with his school’s alumni association publication. (This interview is so over-the-top in promoting his new book, “The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right,” that it’s hard to view it as anything other than grandstanding.)

UC Berkeley Cal Alumni Association, “Politically Homeless: Q&A With Columnist Max Boot,” Fall 2018 Culture Shift issue

“The idea I ever called the president an idiot is not true,” said White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. “There was no so-called ‘practice session’ or ‘re-enactment’ of a mock interview at the Special Counsel’s office. Further, I did not refer to the president as a ‘liar’ and did not say that he was likely to end up in an ‘orange jump suit,’” said John Dowd, one of the president’s lawyers. (These were just some of the denials from senior White House officials about Bob Woodward’s new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House.” The slew of people trying to distance themselves from quotes would fill several BIMBO memos. Vice President Mike Pence had the most graceful denial when he said, “These accounts are very foreign to me.” As a former White House staff member, I am disposed to believe Generals Mattis and Kelly because their training has prepared them to hold their tongues.)

The Daily Signal, “6 Denials of Claims in Woodward’s Trump Book Before Its Release,” Sept. 10 2018

“I am not exploiting my client,” said an exasperated Michael Avenatti, lawyer for adult entertainment actress Stormy Daniels during an ill-advised interview with Tucker Carlson. (Though Carlson did bait Avenatti by accusing him of “exploiting” Daniels several times before he bit, Avenatti eventually spit back the negative word.)

RealClear Politics, “Tucker Carlson vs. Michael Avenatti: Why Are You Exploiting Stormy Daniels? She Strips, You Wear $1,000 Suits,” Sept. 13, 2018

“We won’t win people over by calling them names, or dismissing entire chunks of the country as racist or sexist or homophobic,” said former president Barack Obama while speaking to students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (He’s not reading the papers or watching the news. That’s all that Democrats are calling conservatives. To be balanced, Republicans are trying to find equally insulting phrases, they’re just failing.)

The New York Times, “Obama Lashes Trump in Debut 2018 Speech. President’s Response: ‘I Fell Asleep.,’” Sept. 7, 2018

POWER OF BAD WORDS

Tesla CEO, Elon Musk, is paying for bad words. Several months ago, he slammed analysts who had the temerity to ask him challenging questions on an earnings call by cutting them off and describing their inquiries as “boring bonehead questions.” The words keep popping up in news coverage—which has gotten worse, as the Justice Department is now investigating his tweet in which he announced he was “considering taking Tesla private” and then added, “funding secured.” He may have been testing the waters, but the water is now about to boil. (This is an example of why powerful, successful leaders and celebrities should have someone empowered to tell them when they are flying off the rails. More recently, he smoked marijuana during an interview with a popular radio personality.)

“I always felt that without a huge agenda, when I was writing Bert and Ernie, they were”—were what? Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman presumably was asked, “Are Bert and Ernie gay?” and he responded with the comment above. No surprise, the remark generated national headlines. Saltzman hastily backtracked and Sesame Street issued a statement that Bert and Ernie were good friends and, by the way, puppets. (Lesson? Choose your words more carefully. Saltzman tried to repair the damage saying, “As a writer, you just bring what you know into your work. Somehow, in the uproar, that turned into Bert and Ernie being gay. There is a difference.” A great example of the power of words.)

The New York Times, “Are Bert and Ernie Gay? ‘Sesame Street’ Writer Says His Comments Were Misinterpreted” Sept. 18, 2018

Claiming that Goop’s “‘eggs’ for vaginal wellness” would provide an array of health benefits, actress Gwyneth Paltrow’s company paid $145,000 in fines for making unsubstantiated claims. The company tried to spin it as an “honest disagreement” about the claims it made regarding women’s health, but the Orange County district attorney said, “The claims have the potential to affect women’s health. It’s important to hold companies accountable for unsubstantiated claims.” (Goop’s CFO tried to position the company as “a forum for practitioners to present their views and experiences with various products like the jade egg.” She added, “The law, though, sometimes views statements like this as advertising claims.” No joke.)

The New York Times, “Goop Agrees to Pay $145,000 for ‘Unsubstantiated’ Claims About Vaginal Eggs,” Sept. 5, 2018

“As long as there are many beautiful women, there will be more rape cases,” said President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines who faced criticism for claims that he had eliminated crime as mayor of the city of Davao. (We don’t even know where to begin counselling President Duterte, who has made a string of outrageous comments throughout his history. About the only good news resulting from this statement is that a coalition of women’s groups, “#BabaeAko (I Am Woman),” is active, growing and has received a fair amount of press coverage. President Duterte’s spokesman reiterated that the president was joking and tried to argue that Duterte isn’t a misogynist because he appointed several women to government posts. Digging the hole even deeper, the spokesman then claimed that the rural populace wasn’t nearly as upset by rape jokes as urban dwellers when he said, “perhaps the standard of what is offensive and what is not offensive is more liberal in the south.”)

The New York Times, “Duterte Jokes About Rape, Again. Philippine Women Aren’t Laughing.,” Aug. 31, 2018

BODY LANGUAGE            

Former law clerk to Judge Brett Kavanaugh Zina Bash was accused of flashing a white supremacist symbol gesture with her hands during the Supreme Court nominee’s hearings. (This is an example of the power of social media and conspiracy theories. It turns out that the “‘OK’ hand gesture”—which Bash may or may not have been making—is not a hate symbol, and the coverage was the result of a hoax from a website called 4chan.)

Newsweek, “Did Zina Bash Flash A White Supremacist Sign During Kavanaugh Hearing? Husband Calls Accusation A ‘Vicious Conspiracy Theory,’” Sept. 5, 2018

EVERYONE IS A REPORTER

Before a flight from Mumbai to Jaipur, India’s Jet Airways didn’t properly pressurize the aircraft. The result demonstrates the velocity of news—how quickly it can move from local to international. As the jet ascended, passengers experienced nose and ear bleeds and gasped for air. When oxygen masks deployed, no oxygen flowed. Passengers instantly whipped out cell phones and filled the airways with images of passengers bleeding and gasping. Airlines and the public learned of the incident instantly from the cell phone pictures and videos. This is an example of the kind of crisis that all companies—not just airlines—should prepare for. Today, everyone is a reporter.

The New York Times, “Bloody Nosed Passengers Gasp for Air on Indian Flight After Crew Fails to Pressurize Cabin,” Sept. 20, 2018

OPTICS

While The Weather Channel’s Mike Seidel reported on Hurricane Florence in Wilmington, North Carolina, he appeared to struggle to stay upright due to strong winds. The trouble was that, behind him, two pedestrians seemed to be walking just fine. Predictably, the picture of the ostensibly battered reporter with the two nonchalant-walkers behind went viral. The Weather Channel didn’t help by claiming that the pedestrians were “walking on concrete, while Seidel trie(d) to maintain his footing on wet grass” and that Seidel was exhausted from long hours of reporting on-air. We’re dubious. The video has over a million shares on social media.)

CBS Philly, “Weather Channel Responds To Claims Reporter Was Faking Coverage Of Hurricane Florence,” Sept. 17, 2018

POWER OF REPETITION—BUT THEN PROBLEMS

County medical officials grappled with how to get physicians to be more careful prescribing opioid medicine after a number of deaths. Advisory letters didn’t affect behavior. Rather, “pretty aggressive” letters citing the “possibility of harms to patients” like overdose death did have an impact. Kevin Volpp of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics noted that pop-up alerts in electronic medical records helped doctors achieve best practice; but as pop-up alerts proliferated, the doctors began ignoring them. The lesson? Try lots of things to communicate with your key audience, but be prepared to innovate and always look for new techniques.

The New York Times, “Here’s a Cheap Way to Fight Drug Misuse: Send Doctors a Sharp Letter” Sept. 5, 2018

GOOD EXAMPLES

We love Secretary Pompeo’s effort to build morale at the State Department with the new “Department of Swagger” plaque and “sneak peeks behind the scenes.”

Twitter, Sept. 10, 2018

Nice use of humor by Cathay Pacific. When observers noted the company spelled its name wrong on the side of a plane, “Cathay Paciic,” the company issued a humorous tweet that said, “Oops this special livery won’t last long! She’s going back to the shop!” alongside photos of the misspelled company name on the side of the plane. Those on social media had a field day tweeting comical comments in response.

The Guardian, “Cathay Pacific spells its name wrong on side of plane,” Sept. 19, 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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