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Spin and Double-Speak

Lisa T. Fall

Subject Politics
Communication Studies » Strategic Communication and PR

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The term “spin” has historically been associated with political and governmental campaigns. Two prominent citations stem from the Washington Post and New York Times . In 1977, Washington Post staff writer Spencer Rich wrote an editorial about Mike Pertschuk, former chief counsel and staff director, Senate Commerce Committee. Rich accused Pertschuk of “being too ardent a consumer advocate, of ‘lobbying’ members of the committee on behalf of things he thinks are good, of putting his own philosophical ‘spin’ on options, of being too close to Ralph Nader, of having excessive influence on Magnuson; in short, of acting like the ‘101st senator.’” In 1984, under the headline “The debates and the spin doctors,” New York Times editorial writer Jack Rosenthal predicted that “a bazaar will suddenly materialize in the pressroom” during a presidential debate between Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale. He explained: “A dozen men in good suits and women in silk dresses will circulate smoothly among the reporters, spouting confident opinions. They won't be just press agents trying to impart a favorable spin to a routine release. They'll be the Spin Doctors, senior advisors to the candidates, and they'll be playing for very high stakes.” Doublespeak appears to be a “close cousin” to spin. Kinnick stated, “doublespeak represents a language that is strategically chosen to distort or obscure ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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