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Spin Gone Wild - when communications goes over the top

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Spin: The providing a certain interpretation of information meant to sway public opinion. (Wikipedia)


Anyone who follows politics would be familiar with spin as we see it every day. But the biggest example lately has to be around the US Supreme Court decision that Obamacare, as it has become known, is constitutionally OK and can go ahead.


In essence, it means something like 32 million Americans will now have insurance for health care that they otherwise would not have. That's a heckavu benefit for these people. But rather than the stories focusing on that, the “spin” took over.


For one thing the court ruled it is a tax despite President Obama insisting it isn't. But that's a minor point compared to the spin in overdrive displayed by the opponents.


When the announcement came down last week, I went to the Fox News website to see how they were playing it. (After Fox and CNN got past reporting it entirely wrong at first).


The headline on the Fox website – “Americans have lost the right to be left alone”. Say what?


Now that's serious spin. Millions of Americans who because of a pre-existing condition were denied coverage by insurance companies will now be able to get it, and millions others whose health would be in question because they couldn't access for example a mammogram to detect cancer will now have a fighting chance at catching it before it becomes fatal, but no mention of any of this in the Fox story, not even buried deep within it. Not a mention anywhere of what Obamacare actually does. The total focus was on how it is a step toward socialism, and is an attack on American's right to choose.


There is spin and there is spin, but my gosh, at least when we do it here in Canada there's a bit of balance.


Historical scholars say the United States is more polarized now than at any time since the Civil War. I highly suspect this kind of reporting is a big part of the reason.


I admit I have never been able to get my head around the resistance by so many Americans to see people in their own country who don't have health care, get it. It seems to me the opposition is coming mainly from people who have coverage. So in essence they are saying “I have it, but I don't want you to have it.”


I don't mean to sound like an America basher, because I am not. There is very much I admire about the U.S. but on this issue I just don't get it. Perhaps I am feeling more patriotic just now because we're just coming off our Canada Day weekend, but perhaps this issue defines a fundamental difference between Americans and Canadians, or more accurately, some Americans. I can't imagine we marshalling such opposition to something that has the potential to help so many.


Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he will nuke it on day one, take away this benefit for millions. And he said this because he believes it will help him get elected.


I guess I have gone beyond discussing spin here, or maybe it's my own. But it is a fascinating thing to watch unfold.  



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