TV Spin and Slant in Politics
by Ron Powell
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." --- George Orwell
The primary characteristic of TV political news, commentary, and analysis is its mixture of vagueness and incompetence. The tendency is to not be concrete about anything. The commentators want their viewers to have an emotional reaction to what they are saying, but they don’t want their viewers to think about what they are saying so they don’t include detail.
The enemy of clarity in communication is insincerity. The use of long words and worn out phrases is an attempt to hide the gap between the real goals and the stated goals of the news outlets or organizations responsible for airing the programs we watch. It is not uncommon to hear extensive commentary on a particular topic which is totally lacking in any real meaning.
Contemporary politics is full of deceit, evasion, distraction, hostility, and confusion. TV political reporting, commentary, and analysis is a reflection of the environment in which it functions. The language used by most politicians is designed to make lies sound like the truth and give the feeling of substance to that which is no more than hot air. TV political news reporting, commentary and analysis is designed to help them do it. Objectivity no longer exists in the world of sound bites and talking heads. The line between opinion and fact is crossed repeatedly and without hesitation or guilt.
No longer content with reporting political events as they occur, news operations choose to participate in the political process by trying to influence the outcome. The process of deciding what is ’news’ and what isn’t is influenced by, and is a reflection of, the biases, prejudices and agendas of those responsible for gathering and reporting news.
‘Spin’ is the attempt on the part of the person speaking, to influence or alter the meaning or interpretation of what he or she has said or done.’Slant’ is the way the media chooses to handle, manage or manipulate the ’news’ or the reporting of the ’news’ that is related to what was said or done. It is the attempt to influence or control the effect or impact the report would have on the public perception of the reported incident or utterance and thus the public reaction and response to the report of the incident or utterance.
TV is the most powerful instrument of mass persuasion known to humanity. TV has become a catalyst powerful enough to alter political reality. When it comes to TV news and/or commentary regarding the political process, we would do well to heed the words of a song sung by the late Marvin Gaye........"believe half of what you see.... and none of what you hear........."