Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Got your spin! Got your spin right here!

Sure was fun watching SpinSpotter have its 15 minutes of fame, wasn't it? The poor thing came within range of Language Log's main battery sometime before dawn, and the results are instructive.* Particularly if you look in the comments, and particularly if you keep track of how much work the Logsters were doing over (or in lieu of) breakfast that should have been done by ... erm, by the journalists who regurgitated this silly bit of press-releasery in the first place? Yeah, that'd be it. (By the way, for you regulars as well as the many new customers, the floor is still open just downpage for those who would like to say something to the editors of the future.)

The business of bias in the news, of course, went about its business as if nothing had happened. Here's a reminder that it's going to have to be dug out hedgerow by hedgerow.

Right, the World's Most Super-Important Story at Fox this evening is -- those pesky liberals! And how they're chewing on their own feminist tail or something! Wonder if any of the assertions and entailments of the frontpage presentation, or the story itself, are true?

The feminist debate has come full circle. As Sarah Palin barnstorms throughout the country emphasizing her personal story of being Alaska’s governor and the mother of five children, many liberal commentators are asking whether she can balance the rigor of the vice presidency with the demands of parenting.

... The combination of parenting along with her decision to campaign as John McCain’s running mate has spurred a phalanx of questions from surrogates for her political opponents as well as members of the mainstream media.

Nice footwork. The innocent reader is expecting "many liberal commentators," but we're going to stack the deck with "surrogates" and the "mainstream media."

“Children with Down’s syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?” CNN anchor John Roberts asked during a live segment on Aug. 29, the day McCain announced Palin’s candidacy.

Sally Quinn, a columnist with The Washington Post, wrote in a recent online column that Palin’s need to care for her special needs son, Trig, and her daughter, Bristol, not to mention her three other children, would “inevitably be an enormous distraction for a new vice president (or president) in a time of global turmoil.”


In a Sept. 5 interview on the “Laura Ingraham Show,” Howard Gutman, an original member of Barack Obama’s finance committee, charged the Alaska governor with “not putting family first” by accepting the GOP vice presidential nomination.

Scoring along at home? That's one "mainstream" anchor, one "liberal commentator" and one political operative, two of whom are talking about the issue at hand. And the third?

“If my daughter had just come home at 17 years old and said, ‘Mom, Dad, I’m pregnant, we have a family problem,’ I wouldn’t say, ‘You know what we’re going to do? We’re going to take this private family problem…I’m going to go on the international stage and broadcast it to the world’,” Gutman said.

Right. He's not even talking about the balance of family and professional responsibilities; he's suggesting that using your teenage daughter's pregnancy as a political club is -- OK, let's just say he's not addressing the "feminist" concern but the "shameless opportunist" one.

But questioning of Palin’s priorities has drawn fierce criticism from both political parties as well as women’s advocacy groups who claim it is sexist to raise the issue or have declared it off limits.

Having demonstrated that "many liberal commentators" is a set consisting of Sally Quinn, and having introduced some entirely unrelated evidence to support the argument , it's time to turn back to the real point: Democrats are out of bounds. Liberals are hypocrites. Anybody who dares question this candidate about anything is a really, really bad human being.

Granted, one or two parts of the story are actually "true," even if they don't relate to each other in the way that's claimed. Very little of it violates the sort of "spin" boundaries that SpinSpotter talks about. But it's deeply dishonest in every possible way. And it's dishonest in the service of the party line. Hard to think of a clearer sort of spin.

* Kudos to the night desk, by the way, for the excellent hed: "Dumb mag buys grammar goof spin spot fraud"

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