Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for September 2018


  • Bimbo
  • September 5, 2018
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image a

Lots of material this month! Additional BIMBOs from the CEO of MoviePass, Meghan Markle’s father, a teacher at Dallas’ St. Mark’s school (this one is scary), a Boston Globe editorial writer, a senior director at The Catholic Health Association, the president of NBC News and more! You’ll also find examples of the power of words, a major proof reading fail and an insightful piece about the benefits of culture versus training.

THE WINNER

“Alien abduction doesn’t define me,” read headlines from Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, candidate for the Republican nomination for a Florida U.S. House of Representatives seat being vacated by retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The candidate said: “It has nothing to do with what I have done. It happened when I was 7 years old.” (It’s certainly going to define her in voters’ eyes. The former City Council member claimed she was taken by extraterrestrials to a spaceship at age seven and that she has since been in touch with them telepathically. This congressional seat is rated a strong chance for a Democratic pick-up in November. Let us guess why...)

Orlando Sentinel, “Florida candidate for Congress: Alien abduction doesn’t define me,” Aug. 24, 2018

THE RUNNERS-UP

“We do not want the image of being a bunch of weird losers who march around like a--holes while completely outnumbered and get mocked by the entire planet,” wrote Andrew Anglin, self-described neo-Nazi who runs a white supremacist website, the Daily Stormer. (Too late. The alt-right community is disputing whether to focus on what they see as an ultra-liberal media and culture or whether to openly and proudly display neo-Nazi symbols. Anglin added, “…the image of angry torch-bearing whites chanting racist slogans is not what we are looking for.” Again, too late. But he was correct when he noted, “…we’ve completely lost the moral high-ground after Charlottesville, and they know it.”)

Vox, “The alt-right is debating whether to try to look less like Nazis,” Aug. 10, 2018

“I’m not a clone of my father,” insisted Levi Sanders, candidate running for the Democratic nomination for the congressional first district in New Hampshire. (It is a little hard to tell them apart. On the issues, Sanders the son wants “single-payer health care, a $15 minimum wage and tuition-free public college” and shouts just like his dad – who has declined to endorse him. Perhaps he thinks one Sanders—that is, the original— is enough. Note that Sanders’ denial of the negative became the headline.)

The New York Times, “Levi Sanders Is Not His Father. He Keeps Telling That to Voters.,” Aug. 21, 2018

“I’m not the weirdo schlubby dad living in a shack in Mexico drinking beer and eating McDonald’s,” wrote Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle’s dad, Thomas Markle, in an op-ed published in the U.K.’s The Daily Mail. (Claiming he wants his “quiet boring life back,” Markle guaranteed just the opposite by writing a public letter and admitting he made up the story about staged paparazzi  photos. And, although previously unfamiliar with the term “schlubby,” we think it’s a perfect fit.)

ABC News, “Meghan Markle’s dad claims he lied to Prince Harry, hung up on him,” Aug. 13, 2018

“They’ll stop hearing MoviePass is going out of business,” said company CEO Mitch Lowe explaining why the company reduced its $9.95 monthly unlimited movie subscription service to include just three movies a month. (The background is that the low monthly fee enabled movie fanatics to run wild, thereby killing the company’s profits. MoviePass tried increasing the monthly subscription fee to $14.95 but this proved unpopular. Lowe explained that 85 percent of the company’s customers see three or fewer movies a month and correctly said the company will now concentrate on those customers; however, by mentioning bankruptcy, Lowe instead emphasized a false rumor, ensuring people heard it one more time.)

The Wall Street Journal, “MoviePass Slashes Offering to Three Films a Month,” Aug. 6, 2018

“I am not a predator,” said a long-time teacher at St. Mark’s School of Texas, an exclusive private school in Dallas, when it was revealed that he had been fired from Phillips Exeter Academy, another of the nation’s top preparatory schools, for “making sexual advances to students.” (The teacher, Henry Ploegstra, taught at St. Mark’s for three decades. He told media it was “an isolated incident,” a phrase we usually hear from companies following some sort of horrendous accident. We call this response the law of exceptions and recognize it as a mistake because the listener hears the phrase as a confirmation of guilt. Compounding the impact of the story, news outlets noted that administrators at St. Mark’s “did not respond to several requests for comment.” Another mistake. Every St. Mark’s parent is thinking, “How many more predators are there at my child’s school campus?”)

The Dallas Morning News, “‘I am not a predator’: Ex-St. Mark’s teacher responds to sex abuse allegations at East Coast school,’” Aug. 30, 2018

“We are not the enemy of the people,” said Marjorie Pritchard an editorial writer for the Boston Globe defending the Globe’s plan to organize dozens of editorial boards to coordinate editorials denouncing President Trump. (What can we say about the stupidity of this plan? Let’s quote The Wall Street Journal’s comment: “Reporters who have ventured out to talk to Republicans have likely discovered the common belief among such voters that media professionals are almost entirely lined up in opposition to Mr. Trump and tend to parrot each other’s attacks. Therefore announcing that dozens or perhaps hundreds of ostensibly independent editorial pages will publish similar Trump critiques at the same time probably isn’t the best way to expand readership among the rightward half of the electorate.” We’re sure Pritchard would insist, “There’s no collusion.” But wait! Doesn’t someone else say that already?)

The Wall Street Journal, “Trump’s Honeymoon with Media Almost Over,” Aug. 13, 2018

“But it is certainly not in an attempt to deceive anybody,” said Father Charles Bouchard of the Catholic Health Association responding to queries about why Catholic hospitals are toning down signage and other components of hospitals’ religious affiliations—and therefore potentially downplaying the list of medical procedures not offered for religious reasons. (Bouchard emphasized, “…it is not to trick anyone.” He added, “It’s simply to make people feel comfortable and welcome in an increasingly pluralistic society.” Bouchard and his colleagues should have promoted instead the benefits of a spiritually-grounded health care system.)

The New York Times, “As Catholic Hospitals Expand, So Do Limits on Some Procedures,” Aug. 10, 2018

“I don’t go to bed feeling outrageously drunk and I don’t black out on the sofa,” said Paul Tomlinson, a Lancashire, England, resident explaining that he feels fine drinking in one night several beers, a bottle of wine and two to three gin and tonics. (He added, “Do I consider myself an alcoholic? No! Do I want to stop drinking at the level I do? Not really.” You have to hand it to this guy for his honesty.)

BBC News, “‘Why I drink 100 units of alcohol a week,’” Aug. 21, 2018

“Not a cat hater,” insisted John Collins, the chairman of Omaui Landcare Trust, a group in a small New Zealand town that is trying to phase out local feral cats to protect an unusual array of rare birds. (It’s true, we’re dog people at Spaeth, but this approach seems extreme and, yes, frames Collins as a “cat hater.” Instead, he should focus his communication efforts on what locals can do to protect rare birds while preserving the local ecosystem.)

The New York Times, “New Zealand Town May Ban Cats to Protect Other Species,” Aug. 30, 2018

“He was never told to stop in the way he’s implying,” said NBC News president Noah Oppenheim responding to a charge that the network tried to shut down Ronan Farrow’s blockbuster story about Harvey Weinstein’s decades of sexual abuse and harassment in Hollywood. (The story, which dominated much of the news for months after Farrow broke it in The New Yorker, was back in the headlines when a producer working alongside Farrow, Rich McHugh, quit and went public with the allegation, calling it “a massive breach of journalistic integrity.” We’re more than a little amused by the sanctimonious comments from the network about President Trump when it turns out they tried to help their pal Weinstein stay, well, out of the news. Oppenheim’s denial is a classic non-denial.)

The New York Times, “Ronan Farrow’s Ex-Producer Says NBC Impeded Weinstein Reporting,” Aug. 30, 2018

“I don’t micromanage anything,” said Leonard Riggio, founder and chairman of Barnes & Noble, the mammoth bookstore chain. (Barnes & Noble has been in the news already for all the wrong reasons. The internet—including Amazon—has drastically changed the industry. Barnes & Noble has been through four CEOs in five years, abruptly firing the last one for allegedly “violating policies” although the chain emphasized the violations weren’t related to financial matters or fraud. Riggio is a genius, but anyone who reads Barnes & Noble’s history must conclude that the man is a serial micromanager. On a personal note, we worked for years for now-defunct major competitor Borders and shop frequently at B&N because we love the feel of books and love browsing. Mr. Riggio, if you’re out there, listen to your customers. We need you.)  

The New York Times, “As Barnes & Noble Struggles to Find Footing, Founder Takes Heat,” Aug. 12, 2018

THE POWER OF WORDS

“The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state,” said Rep. Ron DeSantis, Republican candidate for Florida governor who will face Democrat and African-American Andrew Gillum. (Seriously? “Monkey?” Predictably, a storm of protest charging racial “dog whistles” ensued. The problem is that the word “monkey” overshadowed the key charges about the issues Gillum backs. DeSantis cannot afford to make any more mistakes that would allow his opponents to characterize him as tone deaf.)

The New York Times, “DeSantis Warns Florida Not to ‘Monkey This Up,’ and Many Hear a Racist Dog Whistle,” Aug. 29, 2018

“You know, this is something that we first heard from Joseph Stalin,” said NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell in reference to President Trump on Comedy Central’s Daily Show. (Stalin? Mitchell is one of a number of reporters who has compared President Trump to Stalin. Whatever one thinks of the president’s campaign against what he calls fake news, these kinds of comparisons are so over-the-top and damaging that they hurt the media’s crucial role in our democracy. Note that the powerful comparison made the headline.)

mrcNewsBusters, “Andrea Mitchell Compares Trump to Joseph Stalin,” Aug. 1, 2018

“Funding secured,” were the two short words Elon Musk added to the end of a tweet announcing that he is “considering taking Tesla private.” (Oops. Remember our advice to ask yourself, “Who’s my audience?” And guess what, the SEC was listening. Musk has since walked back his claim, but the federal agents take such claims very seriously.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Elon Musk Tweets He Is Considering Taking Tesla Private,” Aug. 8, 2018

When Democratic politicians talk about President Trump, many talk about treason, too. This proved true especially following President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland last month, after which a raft of officials and commentators labeled the meeting as well as the president’s comments “treasonous.” As use of this hyperbole undoubtedly will continue, interested citizens across the political spectrum should read Christopher Buskirk’s op-ed on the subject to illuminate the true implications of the word. Why take the time? We label the word—“treason”—as a typical “bad word,” as it is negative and therefore memorable and powerful. But this word in particular proves much more important because treason is a crime and actually embedded in the Constitution. Thus, throwing the word around is actually like accusing someone of something as serious as murder—a crime with very real penalties.

The New York Times, “Let’s Not Throw the Word Treason Around,” Aug. 8, 2018

A graduate of Colorado Mesa University took a close look at his diploma. He noticed it was granted by the “Coard of Trustees,” instead of the “Board.” (Humiliating. Even worse, the college found the error had appeared in its diplomas for six years. We guess the proof reader profession is withering.)

The Wall Street Journal, “Nice Degree, but Your Diploma Gets an ‘F’ for Spelling,” Aug. 19, 2018

CASE STUDY

By now, everyone has heard about the incident in a Philadelphia Starbucks where a staff member called police after two African-American men asked to use the bathroom but hadn’t made any purchases yet. Starbucks fired the employee and then publicly advertised its company-wide diversity training initiative. Now, another Starbucks employee has been fired for making fun of a customer named Sam who stuttered, the employee even wrote the customer’s name on his cup as “SSSAM.” Again, the company fired the employee. The article linked below is worth reading for a cogent discussion about why “training” is frequently a poor answer to a problem. Although the article focuses on senior living facilities, its advice is worthwhile for everyone. Its basic premise is that “culture,” the behavior that becomes the standard for a company and that everyone imitates, is the most powerful dynamic and that real leadership stresses this rather than ameliorating processes and procedures part of training.

Senior Housing Forum, “Starbucks Wastes Millions Proving Culture Beats Training Every Time,” Aug. 7, 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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