LET’s TALK Spin – no, not the kind Shane Warne does so well on the cricket pitch– but the kind politicians employ to mask the truth. Every country does it, not just ours. It’s perpetrated by specialist employees or independent public relations consultants adept in the dubious art of spin doctoring, which is nothing more than a euphemism for being economical with the truth or telling downright lies.
And it’s not confined to politics either, but appearing in farming, business and our private lives too. And we, the gullible public at whom it’s aimed, spend our waking hours trying to sort out fact from fiction. But we have an ally. Investigative journalists and brave publishers who’ve got the balls to delve into the truth. As long as a free press prevails, there’s hope for our democracy. “Townie, what’s a spin doctor?” Jan asked me one day.
“Someone employed by a government department or commercial enterprise to build smokescreens around an issue so you don’t know your arse from your elbow.” “Do they get paid well?” Jan asked. “More than a state vet, if recent adverts placed by a provincial government department are anything to go by,” I replied. “And all they need is a three-year bachelor degree in communications and a few year’s work experience and they get paid half a million rand a year!”
“Hey, you should apply, Townie, you’ve been spinning me lines for years about all sorts of things!” “Thank you very much!” responded indignantly. “But if were to swop farming for another vocation, I’d rather be an investigative journalist. And my first assignment would be to uncover how you’ve managed to evade income tax so efficiently. Then explore your claim of having played lock for Vrystaat and expose the ‘sexploits’ of your youth, especially considering hairstylist André’s assertion that you’re a closet queen.”
“Lies!” Jan exploded. chuckled. “Now you know what spin doctors do!” ’m currently waiting for a response to my e-mail from our new, investigative ETV news channel, on why we must pay exorbitant prices for imported crude oil when SA’s sitting on vast deposits of coal. What spin will Sasol and Eskom devise to justify our escalating fuel and electricity prices? Being parastatals, they’ll probably pass the buck to government. Wonder who’ll get their top spin doctor to reply on his return from holiday in Dubai, where fuel is R2 a litre? In cricket, when the bails come off to a well-bowled googly, you’re out. In spin doctoring, it would be called a “no ball”. – Derek Christopher |fw