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Today is February 15. It is not going to snow today and the roads are all clear. Cathy and I are going to go out for a while. It looks like it will be a bit warmer and people should be out and about on the much better Saturday.
Today is February 15. It is another gray day here in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Cathy and I have to go out and do a few things. Snow is still piled up, the roads have no shoulders and the likelihood of running into a backup is high. The temperature is, once again, expected to be below the average for today. It is just another miserable Saturday.
The previous two paragraphs are both entirely true, but they paint quite a different picture of this Saturday in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The truth is an elusive thing and it is easily manipulated to tell the story that you want to tell. Of course everyone knows that this is called spinning a story. This is different from the outright lies and vicious talk that come from the fringes of society. Spinning is the work of; the supposed, sane people that give us our daily information.
Each political side has their spin doctors ready to go at a moment’s notice. They are ready to take any event and make it look good for their side and look bad for their opponent’s side. Let’s face it, we get ninety percent of our information and we form ninety percent of our opinions from listening to sound bites on TV or on the Internet. Each one of those sound bites is carefully worded and well-crafted to extract the emotion the presenter wants you to feel.
We don’t have time to dig into a story to find out what really happened. We hear a sixty second story containing the few words of a statement or a few clips of an event and that’s what we know about it. We take that as Gospel and we move on.
Spinning the truth is not new. It has been going on from the time a caveman grunted out the first story of his great kill. It used to be called propaganda but these days we find a cute name for everything. The term spin doctors became so popular that it became the name of a darn good alternative rock band.
I watched a documentary last night on global warming. I listened while the Bush administration spun the issue to the right, changing words of scientific documents to make everything sound like it was all guesswork and not facts. In the same documentary I saw the environmentalists use the direst possible results to try to scare people into demanding action. You spin to the left, you spin to the right, and you keep on spinning until the truth is out of sight.
So what do we do? We can’t read the details of every story and figure it out for ourselves; we do have lives to live. If we want to be fair, the only solution is to listen to spins from both sides and try to visualize what is in the middle, that’s probably what really going on.