Merrie Spaeth, crisis management strategist and former Director of Media Relations at Ronald Reagan's White House, launched the hilarious-yet-instructive "Bimbo Awards" 15 years ago for the purpose of recognizing "dumb public comments made during the year." The primary criterion is that "the speaker causes the listener to believe exactly the opposite of what was said." With each Bimbo-esque statement, Merrie offers commentary that is useful to communicators everywhere.
I am pleased to be the first HuffPost blogger to feature the winners (losers?) of Merrie's 2010 "Bimbo of the Year Awards."
[Virtual drum roll and fanfare]
BIMBO OF THE YEAR!
"It may be stupid, it may be negligent, but it's not corrupt," said longtime Rep. Charles Rangel explaining one of his 13 ethics violations where he sent hundreds of solicitations for contributions on Congressional stationary. (Rangel's explanation, that he just "grabbed the wrong stationary," will warm the hearts of disorganized fundraisers everywhere. The amazing thing to us is that he appears to truly believe this is all OK, and after he was censured by a 333 to 79 vote, he said, "I truly feel good."
[The Associated Press, "Rangel Vows Not To Resign," Aug. 10, 2010]
[The Wall Street Journal, "Rangel Censured for Ethics Violations," Dec. 3, 2010]
"We are not covering up anything and we are not running away from anything," said Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda when U.S. safety regulators began to investigate the timeliness of the 8.5 million car recall due to reports of sudden acceleration. (If you recall, the company did run away for quite some time, and as an internal memo revealed, the company was aggressively trying to limit what it needed to do to address complaints and safety concerns.)
[Detroit News, "Toyota president: 'We are not covering up anything,'" Feb. 17, 2010]
"I am not a witch," said Christine O'Donnell the then Delaware Republican Senate nominee in an ad destined to rank with the infamous 'I did not have sex with that woman,' comment. (This shows how much you can pay for truly bad advice. The ad, which featured O'Donnell in a dark suit against a dark background, made O'Donnell look, well, witchy.)
[ABC News, "Christine O'Donnell Ad: 'I am Not A Witch,'" Oct. 4, 2010]
"I did this for health purposes. There's no way I did this for any type of strength purposes," wailed Mark McGwire, finally telling us what we knew all along - that he used steroids when he broke home run records in the late '90s. (McGwire sounds whiney, defensive and just as insincere as his testimony in 2005 before a Congressional committee when he refused to answer questions, saying he was "not here to talk about the past.")
[The Associated Press, "Mark McGwire finally admits using steroids," Jan. 12, 2010]
"New Jersey Doesn't Stink" was the state's campaign slogan to fight back against stereotypes set by MTV's popular "Jersey Shore." (The campaign spawned parodies, with one columnist suggesting the slogan, "New Jersey: We're FBI Friendly").
[The Washington Times, "New Jersey Doesn't Stink: State out to deodorize Garden State image," June 28, 2010]
"I am not a home wrecker," said Rielle Hunter, John Edwards' mistress and mother of his daughter. She told Oprah Winfrey that posing for GQ in panties and a man's shirt was a "mistake," but she said she has no regrets. Well, except for making a sex tape with Edwards, that they didn't use birth control, and that she knew that Edwards was married when she went to his room for the first night. (There is absolutely nothing Ms. Hunter could have said except abject apologies for her destructive and selfish behavior. We're in the business of helping clients find truthful explanations, not personality transplants.)
[ABC News, "Rielle Hunter: I'm not a home wrecker," April 29, 2010]
Merrie offers a lot more related commentary at her website, where you can also sign up for the monthly Bimbo Newsletter.