Bimbo Banter


BIMBO Nominees for September 2022


  • Bimbo
  • September 6, 2022
  • by Spaeth Communications

Bimbo blog image b

What a full month! See comments from the Navy, Equifax, Mark Zuckerberg, a Chautauqua guide who witnessed the stabbing of Salman Rushdie, and podcaster Sam Harris. In a new and expanding section on bad and coerced apologies, examples from Alex Jones, Deshaun Watson, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith, and the Japanese government. Finally, see an article about the importance of a good headshot and our opinion on coaching people to smile.

THE WINNING BIMBO

During R. Kelly's Chicago trial, his lead attorney Jennifer Bonjean asked jurors not to accept the prosecution's portrayal of her client as a “monster.” She continued, "When the government wants to paint him as a monster … you remember we are talking about a human being." The defense tried to paint the successful star as a victim who was taken advantage of as a child. Note the word “monster” made the headline and occupies a key communication concept in the story as well as the trial. We’ll see how it works.  

CBC News, “R. Kelly not a 'monster,' lawyer tells Chicago jury,” Aug. 17, 2022

THE RUNNERS-UP 

"I did not break my finger and I did not break my finger at a roller coaster park," said Luke Bryan, singer songwriter and American Idol judge. It's hard to imagine a less convincing rebuttal. As reported by his wife on Instagram, she had twisted an ankle on a roller coaster at an amusement park and “Luke broke a finger.” Social media picked it up generating the denial. Who knows if he broke his finger or not, but it is definitely a classic BIMBO comment.

Popculture.com, “Luke Bryan Clears up Broken Finger Reports After Wife's Post,” Aug. 6, 2022  

“This will not be simply moving boxes,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, announcing a major shake-up and reorganization of the prestigious but much-criticized agency. All her announcements involved—you guessed it—organizational structural boxes, so it remains to be seen if that makes the CDC responsive. At least they get a thumbs up for long overdue self-awareness.

AP News, “CDC director announces shake-up, citing COVID mistakes,” Aug. 17, 2022

“Conditions on the berthing barge are not deplorable,” wrote the Navy in its internal talking points responding to a court challenge by First Liberty, the non-profit legal defense group, alleging sailors who refused vaccinations and asked for religious exemptions, were subject to mistreatment. What makes this funny is that the Navy constructed its own Question-and-Answer document, so it asked itself, “Are conditions on the berthing barges deplorable?” and answered it as noted above, creating its own BIMBO! For anyone wondering, “berthing barge” is not a reference to where pregnant people hang out.

Fox News, “Lankford presses Pentagon to ‘explain’ horrific conditions for unvaxxed  sailors seeking religious exemptions,” Aug. 30, 2022 

WHAT NOT TO SAY

Meta (formerly Facebook) CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was “turning up the heat” on employees and hoping that less committed employees would quit, sending a message he probably didn’t want to – namely, goodbye. This isn’t how you build a sustainable corporate culture. It reminds me of a similarly stupid act years ago at Republic Bank, when management announced a 15 percent reduction in staff to cut costs but without any planning or criteria. They immediately lost 15 percent of the staff. Unfortunately, they lost everyone who could get a job quickly someplace else—and just the people they should have wanted to keep!

USA Today, “What bad bosses like Mark Zuckerberg don't know about leading people,” Aug. 17, 2022 

Who’s the audience? Equifax sent lenders inaccurate credit scores on millions of customers. When it became public, the company said, “The impact is going to be quite small, not something that’s meaningful to Equifax.” Equifax said it has since fixed the error, which the company described as a “technology coding issue.” The company claimed the glitch didn’t alter the information in consumers’ credit reports. “We have determined that there was no shift in the vast majority of scores during the three-week timeframe of the issue,” said Sid Singh, president of Equifax’s U.S. Information Solutions. Singh continued, “For those consumers that did experience a score shift, initial analysis indicates that only a small number of them may have received a different credit decision.”

The problem? A “small number” of customers is still a lot of customers. Predictably, lawsuits followed. A Florida woman sued claiming Equifax’s error raised her monthly payment by $150. Worse, it’s a class action suit. What did Equifax say? Again, “we do not take this issue lightly”. You’d think the company would learn. News reports noted previous penalties from a 2017 breach. Equifax was required to invest $1 billion in security. Now, if only they had been required to invest something in communication savvy!

Finally, as the story grew, Equifax issued a statement that “sought to reassure American consumers.” One of the sentences that was supposed to be reassuring read, “the issue was limited to fewer than 300,000 individuals.” That’s bigger than the city of Rochester, New York. What should they have said? They should have immediately set up a way for customers to see if they were affected and offered to help any customer concerned about whether the inaccurate scores had affected them.

The Wall Street Journal, “Equifax Sent Lenders Inaccurate Credit Scores on Millions of Consumers,” Aug. 2, 2022 

The Hill tweeted a clip from CNN in which Sen. Richard Blumenthal debated Sen. Lindsey Graham on giving the IRS an extra $80 billion as part of the spending bill. Sen. Blumenthal said, “The idea that there is going to be this army of IRS agents descending on the average American is just preposterous.” We’ll see. He went on to claim, “Tax fairness is what we need”, but we wish Congress had promoted significant simplification of taxes instead.

Twitter, Aug. 8, 2022

“It is very open; it’s very accessible, it’s a very relaxing environment…In my opinion, something like this was waiting to happen,” said Kyle Doershuk, a guide at the Chautauqua Institute where author Salman Rushdie was speaking. A man rushed the stage and stabbed Rushdie several times just before he delivered a lecture which was ironically on the need to protect free speech. Rushdie spent years living in hiding after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran called for his execution in 1989. We’re guessing the next article will be about lawsuits being filed, and Doershuk should expect to be called as a witness. 

The New York Times, “Salman Rushdie on Ventilator Hours After Being Stabbed in Western New York,” Aug. 12, 2022

The headline pretty much says it all. Author and podcast host Sam Harris was talking about the Hunter Biden laptop story and how it could have swayed last minute voters against Biden, citing that therefore it was OK to suppress the story. He said he felt so strongly that, “at that point Hunter Biden literally could have had the corpses of children in his basement. I would not have cared.” After blowback, he tried to walk the comment back by saying that he never meant to infer that it was OK to do anything illegal. Too little, too late. Interesting, most of the comments we saw were about how he was confirming journalists do bury or suppress news but it’s OK if they think it’s for the “right” cause.  

The Daily Wire, “Author Admits He’d Ignore Hunter Biden Having ‘Corpses Of Children In His Basement’ To Keep Trump From Winning,” Aug. 18, 2022

APOLOGIES

Here are this month’s good, bad, and coerced. 

“I unintentionally took part in things that did hurt these people’s feelings and I’m sorry for that,” said Infowars progenitor Alex Jones as one of his trials wound to a close with a multi-million judgement against him for repeated denials that mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School took place. This has to be one of the most coerced statements and doesn’t qualify as an apology. What weasel words!

AP News, “Alex Jones concedes Sandy Hook attack was '100% real,'” Aug. 3, 2022

We thought Alex Jones non-semi-apology took the cake until we followed the story of Browns putative quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who was fined $5 million and (finally) suspended, first for six games then for eleven games. He initially apologized, “I want to say that I am truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation.” Watson settled 23 of the 24 cases against him by massage providers who claimed he sexually harassed or propositioned them. The initial apology was adequate and continued with what sounded like personal responsibility: “The decisions I made in my life that put me in this position I would truly like to have back,” but then – after the NFL ruled, he came back with, “I’ve always stood on my innocence and always said I’ve never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone.” Oops. You can’t have it both ways. Watson isn’t sorry for his actions. He’s only sorry he was caught. 

The New York Times, “Deshaun Watson’s Apology Undercuts the N.F.L.’s Message,” Aug. 19, 2022

Turning Point USA (TPUSA), a conservative activist group held a meeting and a variety of the extremists who dress up as Supremacists or Nazis were demonstrating outside. Although TPUSA disavowed them, The View’s Whoopi Goldberg let loose and accused the TPUSA attendees of being Nazis presumably for not sweeping away the lawful, if disgusting, protestors. TPUSA delivered a letter demanding Goldberg retract her statement. First, The View had the show’s lone half-conservative apologize but the organization said that wasn’t acceptable. 

Goldberg caved to the pressure during Thursday morning’s show. “In Monday’s conversation about Turning Point USA, I put the young people at the conference in the same category as the protesters outside, and I don’t like it when people make assumptions about me and it’s not any better when I make assumptions about other people, which I did, so my bad, I’m sorry.”  Other than the needlessly snarky “my bad,” we call this an acceptable, if extracted, apology. 

American Update, “Whoopi Goldberg Apologizes For Neo-Nazi Comments After Threat Of Legal Action,” July 29, 2022

Look past Chris Rock’s headline blast to Will Smith’s apology. It took quite a while, months actually, but the Oscar winning actor finally posted a YouTube video, “It’s Been a Minute…” It’s five minutes and initially I thought that was too long but after I watched it, I retract that criticism. It’s structured as Smith responding to questions people apparently asked via social media. There are two cameras, but it was not over produced. We thought it resonated. See what you think.

American Update, “Chris Rock Blasts Will Smith For Trying to Be A ‘Victim’ During Slap Apology,” Aug. 1, 2022

Even in Japan, where apologies are such a part of the culture that train announcers apologize if a train is even a few minutes late, fast rising prices have brought about fast changes in the culture. The subhead of this article says it all: “Japan, constant apologizing is commonplace even for routine price increases by companies. They are ditching the tradition now that inflation is global.”

The Wall Street Journal, “Inflation means never having to say you’re sorry,” Aug. 10, 2022

ARTICLE OF INTEREST

Smile! How often have you heard that? This column explores how important it is to have a good headshot. Interesting but not why we’re including it. The column has a number of recommendations for smiling. We don’t agree. What we call the “listening face” needs to look authentic and frequently, when you try to smile, it looks forced. Our best trick is to imagine you’re talking to someone and say to yourself, “I like this person,” or “I want to be here.” That should trigger the kind of welcoming face you want! 

The Wall Street Journal, “The Perfect Professional Headshot Is Worth $1,000, and Maybe Even a Job,” Aug. 11, 2022

 

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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