Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Plenty 'O Spin

According to my little desktop wizard, there are now 350 entries on this blog, compiled over almost seven years. Think I'm good for another 350? I'm not sure, either.

A series of events have resulted in an open seat in the House delegation of South Carolina. State law requires party primaries to determine the seat's final competitors. Democrats have offered up two candidates, both women, but the Republicans, for reasons only they could say, have jammed their primary with sixteen congressional wannabes.
Here's where it becomes worth looking at. South Carolina (the Palmetto State) naturally has its share of women, but only one of the Gang of Sixteen is a female. The S.C. governor, in fairness, is a woman, the controversial Nikki Haley.
Then there's the question of African Americans, who make up fully 28% of the state's population. If you were to guess the number of African Americans among those same sixteen, you'd be correct if your guess was - zero. I guess the party message needs a little tweaking in order to broaden its appeal to those folks, assuming the GOP wants them at all.

I read something once which seemed surprising, and which I cannot confirm in any objective way. Most people who labor in the field of journalism, I read, do not really aspire to be the next Bob Woodward or David Halberstam. Instead, they wish to cross over to the field of Public Relations, mainly because the money is much better, and the influence on the public is more direct.
As an illustration or two, have you ever wondered how you came to feel a certain way about something, perhaps something far away, totally disconnected to your normal life? Let me guess. You are deeply suspicious of anyone named Kim who wields authority in North Korea. They're crazy. And you didn't shed any tears over the passing of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's "communist dictator". And don't even bring up that no-tie guy from Iran, Mr. Ahmadinijab, or however it's spelled. He's a terrorist, a dictator and someone who is incapable of telling the truth, right?   
I don't doubt the possibility of all these characterizations being spot-on correct. Let's also admit that the hand of the public relations pro, or an entire company of image spinners, working perhaps for someone completely out of the limelight, also plays a role in forming what we thought was strictly our own opinion. I don't doubt why, for instance, those who oppose sensible gun and ammunition regulation tend to speak as if quoting a bumper sticker. Even they don't know it.
Here's one more example. What's your impression of the new pope, Francis? Does he seem like a humble person with a deep interest in serving the poor? Does he seem less concerned than former popes with the trappings of his office? Would you describe him as a conservative, dedicated to promoting the Christian message (with some Catholic doctrine mixed in) to all the people of the world? Again, all these first impressions might be correct, but there is no question that written and spoken words on the subject have been aimed precisely at the goal of promoting them. They didn't come from nowhere, any more than one leader arises spontaneously from the College of Cardinals to take over the church.
My own church, and my political party, former employers and organizations I have affiliated myself with over the years have no doubt also employed the Spin industry during good times, and perhaps even more so, in handling bad news. How is it done? Well, that's why they get paid so much more than the journalists/reporters who merely sit back and collect the "news" spoon fed into their laptops.    


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