spin got to see Kerry unspun

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Jul 29, 2004
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What does "spin" and "unspin" mean?

Gus, I disagree (and agree with ebrown.) For a whole lot of people watching Kerry, it's the first time they've been able to see him speak without a filter; a collection of clips showing him making Vietnam references, say. I think that simple fact had a lot to do with the impact of the debates. People who had only seen spin got to see Kerry unspun, and a lot of 'em said, hey, he's not that bad.

I am SO gonna watch this debate. I had actual nightmares about it last night. -sigh- I think it's really huge, poised to capitalize on the gains of the first debate or nullify them.


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Sep 21, 2003
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In politics, to put a spin on something means to alter the facts by twisting the truth.

The free Dictionary said:
In public relations Public relations (PR) spin is usually pejorative term signifying a heavily biased portrayal in one's own favor of an event or situation that is designed to bring about the most positive result possible.

While traditional public relations relies more on creative presentation of the facts, "spin" often, though not always, implies disingenuous, deceptive and/or highly manipulative tactics to sway audiences away from widespread (and often commonsense) perceptions.

For example, when US President George W. Bush was running for his first term, the American public initially interpreted his stumbling and inarticulate way of speaking as a sign of low intellect. In response, Bush's team "spun" his awkward speech patterns as evidence of his "Aw, shucks," man-of-the-people personality.

They were able to spin this trait in this way because then-President Bill Clinton Bill Clinton had built up a reputation as an articulate intellectual who was himself quite talented at spin. His nickname was "Slick Wille," referring to the fact that he could talk his way out of almost any problem, even if it was his fault.

By the time Bush was a candidate for the presidency, he cultivated an image of being a good-hearted everyman whose sense of morality made up for any deficiencies in intellectual sparkle.

So the Bush team contrasted their rough-around-the-edges candidate with the smart but "slick" Democratic Party by making their candidate's inarticulateness a distinguishing virtue.

The techniques of spin include:

Selective quotation
Selective use of facts
Phrasing in a way that assumes unproven truths
Euphemisms to disguise or promote one's agenda

Skilled practicioners of spin are sometimes called "spin doctors," though probably not to their faces unless it is said facetiously. It is the PR equivalient of calling a writer a "hack."

All the best, :D
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