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Press, Bill. Spin this! All the ways we don't tell the truth.

Pocket Books. 245p. c2001. 0-7434-4268-7 $13.00.

To paraphrase Mark "Twain "There are lies, damn lies and spin." In this book, lies and damn lies get a pass. Lies, we are told, are just "bad" spin. Good spin, on the other hand, can be beneficial, entertaining, satisfying, at worst frustrating but rarely more than annoying. Bill Press makes the case that virtually no one really tells the truth. Of course we know this about politicians and pundits. They're all spinning sacks of Shinola. But your mother? Your rabbi? The Pope? Judges? Everybody spins; and it's been "going on since Adam and Eve."

Spin has finally moved us into the Orwellian darkness of "newspeak, oldspeak, doublethink and doublespeak." Press defines spin as: "Something between truth and a lie." But "Most of the time, spin is an innocent form of speech." Then, a curious contradiction: "The rule is: "Spin yes--lies no--unless you're under oath when only the truth and nothing but the truth will do." Even Press can spin it both ways. "For the most part it's benign." he says. Except when it isn't. In example after example (this book is a catalog of spin anecdotes) the results of spinning are often far from benign. Bill Clinton, "the man who broke the spinning wheel," is famous for spinning sex. "It depends on what the meaning of is is." It got him impeached. Al Gore used government facilities for campaign purposes then hid behind "no controlling legal authority." George W. spins himself as a "compassionate conservative" while as governor of Texas, he presided over a record 152 executions--three cases of spin disarming the malignancy of outright lies. Newt Gingrich compiled a hip vocabulary of 66 positive spin words for Republicans and 36 negative spin words to use against Democrats. In the "94 elections they became the mother's milk of spin for the media. Of course this would not be America if we didn't have a spinning contest. "Best: Ronald Reagan. Worst: Richard Nixon."

Press strikes his most serious tone indicting the vicious spin of religionists: Falwell on AIDS, Robertson on gays. and Cardinal O'Connor against Geraldine Ferraro. For the ubiquitous erosion of faith and credibility in government, corporations, politicians, clergy and religion, one need look no further than spin. Dissemble, prevaricate, obfuscate: it's all deception and it's what made Bill Clinton "slick." Richard Nixon "not a crook." and George W. "misunderestimated." Spin This is an unwitting education into the psychology of human communication. It is also a quick and amusing, if decidedly not-funny, read. William Kircher, Washington, DC
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Author:Kircher, William
Publication:Kliatt
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:425
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