Winners of the 2016 Bullshitty Awards

2016 was a shitty year for most of us . . . but a great year for bullshit. Thanks to your votes, I can now announce the winners of the 2016 Bullshitty Awards.

Here’s the live video. Winners listed below.

Most disingenuous apology


  • Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Ryan Lochte, Olympic Athlete
  • Samsung
  • Donald Trump
  • Wells Fargo

Winner (49% of total votes in category)

“I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. I was wrong, but it really wasn’t me.”

Donald Trump, after being caught on tape bragging about assaulting women

Most meaningless platitudes in a public statement


  • Tim Cook, CEO, Apple
  • Hillary Clinton
  • MIT professors
  • Revolt PR
  • Slack

Winner (25%)

“I’ve heard from many of you today about the presidential election. In a political contest where the candidates were so different and each received a similar number of popular votes, it’s inevitable that the aftermath leaves many of you with strong feelings.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook in a message to all employees after the U.S. presidential election

Most over-the-top use of superlatives and intensifiers


  • Jimmy Haslam, owner, Cleveland Browns
  • Macy’s
  • Marissa Mayer, CEO, Yahoo
  • Jeff Weiner, CEO, LinkedIn

Winner (48%)

“We set out to transform this company – and we’ve made incredible progress. We counteracted many of the tectonic shifts of declining legacy businesses, and built a Yahoo that is unequivocally stronger, nimbler, and more modern. We tripled our mobile base to over 600 million monthly users, we invested in and built Mavens from basically zero in 2011 into $1.6B of GAAP Revenue in 2015, we streamlined and modernized every aspect of our consumer products.”

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, announcing the company’s acquisition by Verizon

Most feckless use of passive voice


  • James Comey, FBI Director
  • Koen Geens, Belgian Justice Minister
  • Brian Krzanich, CEO, Intel
  • Lexus
  • Donald Trump

Winner (53%)

“Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored. . . . Illegal border crossings will go down. Peace will be restored. . . . Our horrible trade agreements with China and many others, will be totally renegotiated. . . . [T]axes will be simplified for everyone.”

Donald Trump, speech at Republican National Convention

Most misleading letter/email to customers or “stakeholders”


  • Dropbox
  • Christine M. Johnson, Superintendent of Schools, Northborough/Southborough, Massachusetts
  • Nordstom
  • New York Times

Winner (50%)

“We’re reaching out to let you know that if you haven’t updated your Dropbox password since mid-2012, you’ll be prompted to update it the next time you sign in. This is purely a preventative measure, and we’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

Dropbox email after it realized that somebody stole 68 million Dropbox passwords

Most outrageous statement in a press release, announcement, or blog post (corporate)


  • Mylan, makers of EpiPen
  • tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing)
  • Julia Haywood, EVP, United Airlines
  • Wells Fargo
  • Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Winner (30%)

“Of all the content on Facebook, more than 99% of what people see is authentic. Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics. Overall, this makes it extremely unlikely hoaxes changed the outcome of this election in one direction or the other.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg after the U.S. Presidential Election

Most outrageous statement in a press release, announcement, or blog post (political or legal)


  • James Comey, FBI Director
  • North Korea
  • Carlos Sousa, PR Director, Mossack Fonseca
  • Trump Organization

Winner (47%)

“We are pleased to announce the complete resolution of all litigation involving Trump University. While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation.”

Trump Organization statement on settling the Trump University Lawsuit

Most honest and clear public statement (corporate)


  • Jeff Bezos, CEO, Amazon
  • Warren Buffet, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
  • John Doe, Panama Papers Whisteblower
  • eShares
  • Ed Marchetti, SVP, Comcast
  • Lily Wachowski, filmmaker

Winner (26%)

“The so-called bathroom bills that are popping up all over this country do not keep children safe, they force trans people into using bathrooms where they can be beaten and or murdered. We are not predators, we are prey. So yeah, I’m transgender.”

Lily Wachowski, filmmaker, on announcing that she is transgender

Most honest and clear public statement (political or legal)


  • Taylor Huckaby, Spokesman, Bay Area Rapid Transit
  • David McCraw, lawyer for The New York Times
  • Barack Obama
  • Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General, New York
  • Tony Schwarz, ghostwriter for Donald Trump
  • Donald Trump

Winner (34%)

“The essence of a libel claim, of course, is the protection of one’s reputation. Mr. Trump has bragged about his non-consensual sexual touching of women. He has bragged about intruding on beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms. He acquiesced to a radio host’s request to discuss Mr. Trump’s own daughter as a “piece of ass.” Multiple women not mentioned in our article have publicly come forward to report on Mr. Trump’s unwanted advances. Nothing in our article has had the slightest effect on the reputation that Mr. Trump, through his own words and actions, has already created for himself.”

New York Times lawyer David McCraw, responding to the threat of a libel suit

Bullshitter of the year (corporate)


  • Mossack Fonseca
  • The New York Times
  • Samsung
  • Yahoo
  • Wells Fargo

Winner (59%)

Wells Fargo

Bullshitter of the year (politics)


  • Hillary Clinton
  • James Comey
  • Boris Johnson
  • Bernie Sanders
  • Donald Trump

Winner (82%)

Donald Trump

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