(Editor's Note: This is Part II of a multi-part series offering a new take on the age old question, “Who do you trust?” When selfish motives often lurk in the shadows, how can you really know whether spoon-fed “truth” is really “the whole truth and nothing but the truth”?”)
Just the Spin-Free Facts, Ma'am.
Selective truth telling – “spin” – masquerades as trustworthy “fact” with alarming frequency these days. We see it in White House press briefings, from Republican and Democratic administrations alike. We see it in those BP oil spill briefings which virtually nobody takes seriously. We see it in Wall Street financial reports when a company highlights its up-tick in earnings while downplaying the fact that it just laid off 1000 workers to reduce expenses. We see it every day on C-Span as both sides of the political spectrum bash each other, pretending as if the very solvency of the Union is teetering on the brink of disaster if one ideological slant is not pursued to the exclusion of all others.
Carefully selected snippets of targeted facts and figures are used to bolster this position or that, making one person (or company, or special interest group) look really, really bad while another looks really, really good. What is thoroughly messed up about all this spin-mongering is that honest, hard-working reporters, pressed by rampant cost-cutting and a general lowering of editorial standards, regurgitate hand-picked “spin” as if it is hard-edged fact. This new editorial expedience means that people or organizations with narrowly-targeted agendas get away with monopolizing the thought cycle of the day, often to the detriment of exposing deeper, trickier truths that get swept under the rug.
So perhaps it’s the awareness that we increasingly tiptoe through a “spin-controlled” world that gives me a more jaded sensibility about what gets offered up as “truth” these days.