The Politics of Spin

Last post, we gave a brief run-down of how to look at various medium and be critical of what information you are given.

Briefly mentioned too, was a reference to information given by individuals and groups (particularly political leaders).

This post is going to give you a brief overview of a tool used by political leaders and others in public relations: spin.

Those who engage in spin, who do it for a living, are known as spin doctors. They put a particular ‘spin’ or point of view on what has been said or done. Spin is often considered to be propaganda and has a negative connotation.

Though I try not to cite Wikipedia as a source often, the definition it has provided for spin is well put: “achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favour or against a certain organization or public figure”. I would also add events, programs, policies to that definition as well.

It is not quite lying, but it is not often the truth either. It can be used to avoid scandal or embarrassment or can try to sway opinion on a given situation, depicting it in a positive light.

Political spin is one reason we must be weary of the information given to us as politicians, organizations, individuals even, will often attempt to turn public opinion in their favour to gain support.

A good example for the use of spin currently is with the F-35 jets the Harper government wanted to purchase despite the high price tag. The government has been defending the program since deciding in 2010 to purchase the planes without holding an open competition to see which planes would fit Canada’s needs and would get the most ‘bang for the buck’. Andrew Coyne, has an interesting Op-Ed (Opinion Editorial) on the issue.

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