Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Spin In Extremis 

This story explains in its horrible way why "spin" is so bad for PR. The article focuses on Campaign 2004 and how with half-truths and "bright, shining lies," each side is trying to keep the other off-balance. The author notes that "spin" and "counter-spin" are so fast and furious that reporters have no time to find the facts or to call either side on inaccuracies. Of course, this is what the candidates' flacks want. The author notes that newsrooms also are not set up to stop "spin" at this pace. Further, because reporters want to be fair, they do not attempt to point out when either side is stretching the case or lying. The net result is that voters are not served with information they can use, and the media become more cynical. This is no good for anyone.

It would be nice if the PR industry would stand and condemn "spin" then call for accuracy from both sides. But the PR industry won't do it. It's spineless, and worse, the people who do such "spin" are the ones paid the big bucks to become the lobbyists when the campaign is over. In other words, cynicism is institutionalized.

In fairness, "spin" and lying have been part of American campaigns since the beginning. The vitriol between the Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians makes today's campaigning seem a cakewalk. But, it was damaging to the country then -- and now. George Washington was trapped between opposing forces and trying to keep peace. He failed. On the other hand, the country didn't collapse from such lying, so there is little reason to believe that it will fail now. Eventually facts emerge, if not the truth.

Still, I cannot bring myself to act like political carnivores. I like self-respect.


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