Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees For October 2019


  • Bimbo
  • October 1, 2019
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image c

We have BIMBO comments from a former New York Times editor, former South Carolina Governor (and, apparently, Republican candidate for president) Mark Sanford, Cory Booker’s campaign manager plus Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Examples of the Power of Words from a feud between a complaining employee and the owner of a restaurant, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and an example of how an industry’s use of words can reveal a change in business priorities. An analysis of Juul Labs Inc.’s troubles showed how words travel and how “good words” can cause major problems (hint: when they aren’t true). Sen. Elizabeth Warren provided an example of why it’s a mistake to ignore a framing question, and an international example of the Wrong Thing To Say – in French. (Mon Dieu!) Highly-quotable lines from an ally of Venezuelan Dictator Maduro and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as well as an example of body language from another UK leader.

THE WINNING BIMBO

“Since I’m neither crazy, irresponsible nor dangerous, I would appreciate the opportunity to counter the caricature,” tweeted Marianne Williamson, Democratic presidential candidate. (Of course, she’s creating the caricature herself. In another tweet she wrote, “Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea; it is a creative use of the power of the mind.” She retracted her previous antivaccine comments, but she’s being ridiculed by fellow liberals and progressives, and complained, “I know this sounds naïve, but I didn’t think the left was so mean. I didn’t think the left lied like this.” Welcome to 2019 and politics, Marianne.)

Twitter, Sept. 4, 2019

THE RUNNERS-UP

“… WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS,” tweeted NRA members on the organization’s Twitter feed after the city of San Francisco declared the NRA “a domestic terrorist organization.” (Leaving aside the propriety or wisdom of the city’s action, the BIMBO denial only served to reinforce the declaration. NRA members should have said, “We’re patriots.” Not surprisingly, the negative phrase made the headline.)

The Guardian, “NRA sues San Francisco for declaring group a ‘domestic terrorist organization,’” Sept. 10, 2019

“Neither the fictional character Joker, nor the film, is an endorsement of real-world violence of any kind,” said Warner Brothers in a statement after controversy erupted about the film “Joker.” Families who lost loved ones in previous mass shootings (including the shooting inside an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre during another Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises”) complained the film could trigger trauma. (We sympathize with the victims, but we agree with Joaquin Phoenix, the film’s star, who responded, If you have somebody who has that level of emotional disturbance, I think that they can find fuel anywhere.”)

CBS, “Warner Bros. says ‘Joker’ is not an endorsement of violence,” Sept.25, 2019

“There is no evidence it was fiction,” said former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson defending the paper’s publication of a sensational story about college-aged Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh allegedly exposing himself to a female Yale classmate at a dorm party. The New York Times left out the critical fact that the story was hearsay from someone who didn’t actually witness the incident and that the supposed victim declined to be interviewed and said she didn’t recall the incident. Over a day after publishing the story, The New York Times updated the article with the following editor’s note: "The female student declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the episode." (Abramson’s comment is particularly dangerous because the standard for journalism should be “There was evidence it actually happened.” “Evidence” is not the same thing as an allegation. Shame on The New York Times.)

Washington Examiner, “‘No evidence it was fiction’: Ex-New York Times editor defends botched Kavanaugh story,” Sept. 18, 2019

“This isn’t about weakening the president or electing Democrats,” said former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford announcing he would run for the Republican nomination for president against President Trump. (Classic BIMBO. Of course, this is what it’s about. Sanford should instead be focused on reestablishing his own credibility. He supposedly went for a hike along the Appalachian Trail but was really in Argentina cheating on his wife. He’s a smart guy, and wish him well, but this isn’t the path.)

USA Today, “Former SC congressman Mark Sanford announces GOP presidential bid against Trump,” Sept. 9, 2019

“I want to be clear: This isn’t an end-of-quarter stunt …,” wrote Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker’s campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, in a memo to staff emphasizing the desperate need for additional fundraising. Demissie emphasized the campaign would have no “legitimate long-term path forward” if it proved incapable of raising nearly $2 million in 10 days. (Again, a classic BIMBO. Of course, that’s exactly what the plea was – a “stunt.” We’ll check to see if it works.)

The Daily Wire, “Cory Booker’s Campaign is On Life Support,” Sept. 21, 2019

“Inever, ever intentionally misled the FBI inspection division, the office of the inspector general, or any director of the FBI, ever …,” said former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in attempt to stave off indictment for lying to the Justice Department’s inspector general about a variety of topics including leaks to the media. The Justice Department’s inspector general said McCabe displayed a “lack of candor” when responding to questions that were part of the department’s investigation regarding McCabe’s leaks to the media. (“Lack of candor” is what the rest of us poor schlubs would call “lying.” This is a classic lawyer hedge. He misled the department, it just wasn’t “intentional.”)

Liberty Headlines, “Obama Flunkies Vow to Defend McCabe if He’s Indicted,” Sept. 19, 2019

“This is not just an office with no real substance,” said Deborah Lauter, the new executive director of the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes in New York City. (A focus on “hate crimes” is going to find – guess what? – more hate crimes. Hopefully they will find a way to prevent them as well. We believe the city’s resources would be better spent encouraging civility and developing friendships.)

The New York Times, “White Supremacists Targeted Her. Now She’s Fighting Hate Crime,” Sept. 6, 2019

POWER OF WORDS AND WRONG THING TO SAY

 “I didn’t consider it racist at the time …,” said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after multiple pictures of him in costume and brownface came to light. (We’re making a plea to reserve the charge “racist” for acts, words and policies that are truly racist. These incidents tap into the history, frequently sad and discriminatory, of performers in blackface while genuine people of color were barred from roles, accommodations, etc. They show bad taste and insensitivity. Wearing brownface makeup to a party is bad, but it’s not the same thing as racism.)

TIME, “Justin Trudeau Wore Brownface at 2001 ‘Arabian Nights’ Party While He Taught at a Private School,” Sept. 19, 2019

The Wall Street Journal and financial research firm Sentieo Inc. analyzed the earnings-call transcripts of 40 public U.S. shale companies and found that the fracking industry’s shift in business priorities has resulted in a shift in the language its top executives use to communicate with investors. For example, in 2015 shale executives used the promise to “ramp up” production, but today this phrase has largely been replaced by a promise to deliver “free cash flow” to investors. (We’re particularly attracted to the newly-popular buzzwords “capital discipline” and “live within cash flow.” Now, can we pray this philosophy will be adopted by our federal government?)

The Wall Street Journal, “Fracking Buzzwords Evolve, From ‘Ramp Up’ to ‘Capital Discipline,’” Sept. 9, 2019

Think before you speak is the lesson for restauranteur Bob Sinnott after a disgruntled employee posted a negative review on one of Toasted Coffee + Kitchen’s social media sites, calling it “dirty” and “overpriced.” Sinnott went ballistic and responded, describing the employee as a “total nut job” and a “spaced-out loser.” He also suggested that she “go do some drugs and traipse through the woods.” The staff member shot back, calling him “sexist” and “delusional,” among other choice words. Eventually they both ran out of energy and insults, but not before they attracted the attention of the local paper’s restaurant critic, who decimated Sinnott in his review. (Moral? Remember when your mother said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything.”)

Fort Worth Weekly, “Toasted Gets Roasted [Updated],” Sept. 18, 2019

Juul Labs Inc. representatives were heard describing e-cigarettes to kids in a school as “totally safe.” This is an example of how words matter. Words travel from person to person, and your message needs to be true. The first strategic decision when communicating is always, “who’s my audience?” Communication can have very real results. Not only are the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission investigating Juul’s marketing practices, but also CEO Kevin Burns stepped down due to the current controversies. Juul even voluntarily stopped selling in bricks-and-mortar stores the flavors that health officials say appeal most to young people. (Whew. Do you still think communication is a soft skill?)

The Wall Street Journal, “FDA Warns Juul About Marketing Products as Safer than Cigarettes,” Sept. 9, 2019

THE RISK OF FRAMING QUESTIONS

“Are you going to be raising the middle-class taxes?” asked Stephen Colbert of Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. This is a classic framing question that appears to demand a “yes” or “no” response. Warren ducked the question by responding, “costs are going to go up for the wealthiest Americans, for big corporations …” Colbert had none of it, and repeated, “But will their taxes go up?” Again, Warren ducked, “But here’s the thing.” Again, Colbert wasn’t buying it. He interrupted her and said, “But here’s the thing …” and suggested she admit she plans to raise taxes and defend her position. (We’re not going to advise Warren about how to handle this genre, only point out that when the listener perceives a speaker is ignoring and ducking a question, the listener jumps to the damaging conclusion.)

The Hill, “Warren comes under new pressure over Medicare for All and higher taxes,” Sept. 23, 2019

FROM OUR INTERNATIONAL DESK

Our BIMBO Memo attracts submissions from around the globe. From our Paris correspondent, an example from Sibeth Ndiaye, French government spokeswoman appointed by President Emmanuel Macron. An example of the “Wrong Thing To Say” is her comment as Paris faced another huge protest aimed at shutting down the entire public transportation system, making it impossible for locals to get anywhere. In attempt to express sympathy for those who will have to deal with the repercussions of the strike, Ndiaye said, “Tomorrow morning, I will use my company car as every day.” She did add, “… I will be with all the Parisians who will have a hard time in the corridors of the subway.” Perhaps emotionally but not physically... What should she have said? The “… I will be with all the Parisians …” line was fine. She should have been with them, not lording it over them in her private car.

Ouest-France, “Vendredi noir à la RATP. Quand Sibeth Ndiaye dérape avec sa voiture de fonction,” Sept. 13, 2019

HIGHLY QUOTABLE … AND TELLING

“This is anarchy in the bad sense of the word,” said Eduardo Samán, the former price-controls czar under Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro(who is still a supporter of the revolution). Is there a good sense of the word? The country is losing tens of thousands of citizens, commerce has collapsed, shelves are bare and remittances sent from relatives abroad are among the only sustenance keeping people from starving. According to the National Assembly, the regime’s effort to print less money combined with its lack of enforcement of price controls has caused inflation to fall from a peak 12-month rate of 2.6 million percent in January to 135,000% in August.” 135,000% percent? How is that possible?

The Wall Street Journal, “Venezuela Quietly Loosens Grip on Market, Tempering Economic Crisis,” Sept. 17, 2019

“I’d rather be dead in a ditch,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the midst of the controversy about whether to seek another Brexit delay. (After trying to suspend Parliament, introducing us to the word “prorogue,”a revolt of his own members and a decision by the United Kingdom’s supreme court that his attempted action was illegal, the Prime Minister may get his wish.)

Seeking Alpha, “Not a day goes by without Brexit drama,” Sept. 6, 2019

BODY LANGUAGE

As Members of Parliament shouted and debated about Brexit, Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, listened while sprawled across several seats. It must have been an exhausting experience but the Labour MP, Anna Turley, criticized him as the “physical embodiment of arrogance, entitlement, disrespect and contempt for our parliament.” Ouch.

The Guardian, “‘Sit up!’ - Jason Rees-Mogg under fire for slouching in Commons,” Sept. 3, 2019

MORE EXAMPLES

“We’re already seeing several brands abandoning the use of influencers with millions of followers. They’re betting instead on microinfluencers with several thousands of followers …,” said expert Elton Morimitsu commenting on cosmetics industry trends. (This is an important observation and one we enthusiastically recommend because microinfluencers lend a more authentic and credible voice to promoting a brand. However, a company’s own employees, customers and other partners should be enlisted first as ambassadors. They’re likely to speak with the most credibility and enthusiasm. We’re late getting this article onto your radar screen, but it’s a powerful example.)

Bloomberg Businessweek,“Brazil’s Natura Wants to Take Rainforest Chic Global With Avon,” July 31, 2019

English majors of the world exult! The New York Times’s David Deming wrote: According to a 2018 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the three attributes of college graduates that employers considered most important were written communication, problem-solving and the ability to work in a team. Quantitative and technical skills both made the top 10, alongside other ‘soft’ skills like initiative, verbal communication and leadership.” (Yes! I tell my graduate MBA students at the SMU Cox School of Business that whatever industry they are in, whatever function they hold, they’re in the communication business.)

The New York Times, “In the Salary Race, Engineers Sprint but English Majors Endure,” Sept. 20, 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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