Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Spin Spin Spin

Ad ran in a Sarasota, Florida newspaper.
In politics, the ability to spin a certain event or action is a sought after talent. During my years working in politics I have seen some who were born to be spin doctors and those who tried and just came off too negative. Spin comes in many forms, from creatively burying the announcement of the truth in the news with a campaign announcement of something exciting to carefully choosing the campaigns description of a candidate’s religion to avoid negative connotations. Cherry picking is a particular spin favorite among my former colleagues. To selectively take bits of a quote, headline, video and spin them to mean something entirely different is to cherry pick the campaign’s message.

Although perceived as deceptive and ingenuous, spin can be just another tool in advertising the candidate’s brand. I have not campaigned for candidate in a few years, but today’s class readings made me think of who is orchestrating the presidential campaign spin, and specifically the 140 character spin that I have been seeing on Twitter each night, and what Americans can do.

Other tweets and links that I have received since the conventions also exemplify the high level of spin and cherry picking of information coming out of the campaigns:

·         Tweet from the GOP, “Household income down 8.2% since Obama took office, study shows” with a link to a Fox New Story which characterized a Sentier Research study on household income trends. The study actually reports on household income from June 2009, five months after President Obama took office, and acknowledges that the United States did not start to come out of the economic recession until June.

·         YouTube video, uploaded by GOP Political Action Committee Republican Study Committee, which intermixes a speech by Ronald Reagan on small government and American success with clips by Democratic liberals, taken out of context, to make the Democrats (e.g. Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama) sound like they are for big government and against free enterprise.

·       Tweet from Barack Obama’s campaign, “President Obama: "We’ve doubled the amount of renewable, clean energy we generate from sources like wind and solar"” with no source or link.

·      And finally, the Huffington Post recently tweeted about a Sarasota, Florida, newspaper ad paid for by the Newt Gingrich Political Action Committee. The ad uses President Obama’s current policies to extrapolate some outrageous claims of what policies to expect America to move towards.
The Sarasota ad is the ultimate in spin and the saddest part of political campaigns. Degraded to the point of silliness I just hope that voters can exercise caution when reading the tweets and messages of both campaigns because they are, in essence, carefully crafted propaganda. I encourage everyone to find the source of the campaign’s information before accepting it as fact. You may be surprised by what you find.

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