November 4, 2002

The origins of spin…

NPR takes a look at the phenomenon of spin. Safire’s New Political Dictionary defines spin as “deliberate shading of news perception; attempted control of political reaction.” By this definition, spin is a combination of propaganda and rhetoric. Lee Atwater may have coined the term, but it found its first use in print–“Spin Doctors”–by Jack Rosenthal of The New York Times in an editorial following the presidential debate in October 1984. The NPR article concludes this way:

Jack Rosenthal says spin started to thrive under the conditions created by CNN and news radio, whose 24-hour updates rendered weekly commentary obsolete. With the news cycle shrinking, he says, “You needed to get effects into play instantly. You couldn’t wait to go to your favorite columnist. It had to be instant, so you created your own columnist. Create your own wave of opinion — your own spin.”

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