Spin in media is exactly like spin on a cue ball in pool, a little "english" on a news item to make sure it goes the right direction. I used to tell my seminars that there is another word for spin, and that word is, "Lie." Funny how that works.
Spin is the handmaiden of disinformation. Disinformation is false "information" — a lie — released for a specific purpose, essentially the information equivalent of a bullet. The old Cold War Russians were masters of disinformation...I've read declassified papers that evidenced a profound understanding, better than our own understanding, of how media works in a free society.
So what got me to thinking about spin and disinformation on this beautiful Saturday morning? This Washington Post column by industry turncoat Richard Feldman. Here's the "nut graf:"
What we do have, though, is an organization whose senior leadership is dedicated to keeping the gun debate alive and burning in the American consciousness, for its own self-serving and self-preserving reasons. That organization is the National Rifle Association.Of course, it's a reprise of the theme from Feldman's recent book Riccochet: Confessions of a Gun Lobbyist, which was quite popular with the East Coast intelligencia and no one else. Feldman casts himself as a centerist, the voice of reason in the middle of the gun debate. he is, of course, neither of those things. I have met the man, and his need to be "important," to be somebody, oozes from the pores of his skin. He is Sarah Brady in a cheap suit.
That said, the WaPo story is a masterful piece of disinformation; I seriously doubt Feldman could have constructed this without substantial input from some of Brady's or VPC's professional spinners. There are several preconditions for disinformation to work:
- It has to be very close to the truth.
- It has to be targeted precisely toward the preconceived notions of the target audeince.
- The author of the disinformation must be perceived by the target audience as having standing.
- It It needs to have a simple message.
Since that message failed, the antigunners need a new message, and Feldman, weasel that he is, has been happy to provide it — the NRA is evil. It's no secret to you guys that I have at times had my differences with the NRA on some elements of policy. However, you all also know that at the same time I unequivocally support the primary mission of the NRA — the protection of the Second Amendment — with which they do a superb job! Given that this is an election year; given that the Second Amendment is before the SCOTUS; given that we are holding onto a slim victory, an attack on the NRA is a calculated attack on all of us. Believe it!
BTW, here's my favorite part of Feldman's column...it perfectly demonstrates the fundamental concepts of disinformation:
I've been down this road more times than I care to count. But the truth is that much of the public debate over gun rights and gun control is disingenuous. Gun owners of every stripe -- liberal, moderate, conservative -- and non-owners alike can and do agree that violent criminals, juveniles, terrorists and mental incompetents have no right to firearms. Federal and state laws, despite poor enforcement by the courts, underscore that. Further, there's no significant debate -- nor should there be -- over private ownership of guns for lawful purposes such as target shooting, hunting, self-protection and collecting."No significant debate????" What planet is he living on? Obama is in favor of banning handguns; Mitt in favor of banning "assault weapons;" attacks on firearms ownership still come from every corner. But by phrasing this paragraph the way he did, Feldman implies that the debate is long over, so why would we need an organization like the NRA?
Ah, weasels will be weasels,won;t they?