On the Origin of Spin: (Or how Hollywood, the Ad Men and the World Wide Web became the Fifth Estate and created our images of power)
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Jun 29, 2013 - Political Science - 540 pages
This book was written to try and answer the question: ‘where and when did political spin originate?’ It deals with the techniques of news management developed and used in those advanced democracies who have laws to protect a free press. such as the United States of America, and to a lesser extent its first cousin, several times removed, the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland, or to be more precise, England, who in 1695 became the first country in the world to enshrine a free press into their constitutional law. This joint history of legal protections of press freedom; governmental toleration of free speech; progressive legislation to widen the franchise; vigorous growth in political parties; pluralism and its consequence, the peaceful coexistence of different interests, convictions and lifestyles; a healthy adherence to Burkean ‘little platoons’ of volunteers; and, most of all, sophisticated developments in mass media technologies and consumer marketing techniques; all of which means that the Anglo-Saxon cousins are, and have always been, in the vanguard of news management. Government and media have been at war from the very beginning. Au fond this is a struggle for allegiance. The media want the allegiance of their readers and viewers, because this brings them the profits they need to remain in business. As Patrick Le Lay, then CEO of the main French private channel TF1 put it: "There are many ways to speak about TV, but in a business perspective, let's be realistic: TF1's job is to help Coca-Cola sell its product. What we sell to Coca-Cola is available human brain time." Government on the other hand wants the allegiance of the voter, to acquire or retain power. The famous Victorian editor of 'The Times', Thomas Barnes, once said that the "newspaper is not an organ through which Government can influence people, but through which people can influence the Government." Politicians would reverse the dictum. And therein lies the causus belli. The politician's strategy for winning this war was stated most succinctly by that arch media manipulator, David Lloyd George: "what you can't square, you squash; and what you can't squash, you square." The media for their part, are determined to be neither squashed nor squared. From 1800 in the US and 1832 in Britain (when Germany and Italy were just a glint in the eye of some petty princes; and France was recovering from yet another pointless 'revolution' leaving behind yet another example of Kafka's bureaucratic slime); competitive, party based elections produced extraordinary outbursts of creativity. Politicians learned that the art of politics is about making and then winning arguments. As each successive cutting edge novelty arrived, the spin doctors quickly adapted and improved their techniques by adroitly exploiting the new medium’s benefits. For two centuries (and even before) the ‘Anglo-Saxons’ have led the world in spin: this is the history of that journey.
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