PITY THE POOR spin doctors. Few occupations are more despised than theirs but then few occupations offer such power with so little responsibility. We all know who the spin doctors are. They are the nasty, nefarious types, stashed in politicians’ back offices, twisting words to mean whatever they want them to mean. They are commonly held to be responsible for the media’s mendacity and democracy’s decline. They convinced us to go to war in Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that were not there. They declared “mission accomplished” when it had barely begun. They threw the children overboard. Every day they are busy spinning yesterday’s denial into tomorrow’s full and frank admission. They will say anything as long as it advances the cause of whoever is paying their fees.
But now spin doctors have gone on the counter-attack about their own image. ABC metropolitan morning radio in most states has recently added weekly sessions with spin doctors from government and business who explain how the news of the week has been managed. Of course, these sessions are never very critical of public relations practice and they never tell about the dirty deeds that go on behind the scenes but they do draw our attention to the ubiquity of spin. Perhaps this is the right time to consider the spin doctor’s place in the world, particularly as public relations practises now determine how governments do their work and, in particular, wage war.
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