Thursday, July 28, 2016

Return of the Spin Room

Back in 1992, voters were introduced to the concept of the spin artist and the spin room. Spin artists are political operatives who work with sympathetic media to put the best possible face on political events - or the worst for the candidate's opponent. The Clintons were masters at this.

Guess what? They're back.

Hints of the Clinton spin machine were seen during the Republican National Convention with the universal adjective for Trump's speech being "dark". It was far more obvious during the Democratic National Convention when Michelle Obama's speech was described as "a speech for the ages". This phrase is unusual enough and used so often that it has to have been fed to the press, possibly before she ever opened her mouth.

But all of that is nothing. The Democrats in general and Hillary in particular had a big problem: the release of thousands of emails and voice mails showing, among other things, that the supposedly neutral party was against Bernie Sanders. The Clinton spin artists attacked this problem in two stages. The first was to suggest that the emails had been obtained by the Russian government for the express purpose of helping Donald Trump. It was quickly floated that Trump would be Putin's puppet ruler.

While it is true that Trump and some of his staff have had dealings with Russian companies and Trump himself has been skeptical of NATO, it is also true that the Clintons also have deep ties to Russian businesses. Further, Hillary is a known quantity to them and they know how to deal with her.

The second phase started with a comment that Trump made. Trump called on the Russians, or anyone else who had hacked Clinton's private email server, to release the 30,000 emails she had deleted. Trump's jab was a stroke of genius because it reminded people that Hillary used a private email server that was so insecure that the FBI said that there was no way to tell if it had been hacked. It also reminded people of the thousands of "private" emails deleted from Hillary's server.

The spin machine quickly jumped into action insisting that Trump was calling on the Russians to hack Hillary's server. A storm of faux-outrage followed with some media outlets suggesting that Trump had crossed a line by inviting a foreign power to interfere in an American election. A few even called him a traitor.

This may backfire on the Clinton machine. Anyone who sees what Trump actually said knows that it was a lighthearted suggestion that assumed the Russians hacked Hillary's emails years ago. It makes no sense to suggest that Trump wants them to hack the servers now. They have been decommissioned and are in the possession of the FBI.

A good deal of the press is actively working against Trump and are willing to help the spin machine.

This particular spin might backfire, though. Any ordinary candidate would be sputtering and backtracking by now. Trump on the other hand said, "It was a joke" and moved on. Outrageous statements are nothing new from Trump.

The other problem is that the Clintons should want Trump's joke buried instead of given more attention. No matter how much it hurts him, it also reminds people of Hillary's own email mess. The Clinton spin machine shold be working to bury any mentions and put it behind them. Instead, they are being mentioned on the national news again and stealing time from the convention.

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