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[Opinion] Spin Doctor

Posted July. 28, 2003 21:50,   


Alastair Campbell, Director Communications for British Prime Minister Tony Blair better known as `the real deputy prime minister,` is expected to step down soon. The media manipulator is the man reportedly pointed out by weapons expert Dr. David Kelly found dead last week, who skillfully included the phrase `Iraq is capable of launching weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes` in 2002 dossier. When the BBC reports first broke out, Campbell categorically denied the claim. BBC, however, said that its recorded tape of conversation with Dr. Kelly would be proof of its reports. Although it is a job of the special inquiry committee to find out the truth, the Parliament already has evidence of Campbell`s spinning, according to the Times.

Campbell has been a media supremo for nine years, referred to as a man who made Tony Blair of today. He has also been called a spin doctor, which means a person manipulating the media for certain political interests. The word `spin` originally referred to a curve ball of a pitcher, and began to be used as a political term in 1984 by the New York Times. The editorial of the paper wrote at that time that after a presidential candidates` TV debate, spin doctors swarmed into a press room to mater the voice of the press and media. Spin doctors are now at the very center of politics these days. If politics is an aphrodisiac as argued by Henry Kissinger, it is spin doctors` job to pack the product so that it can be seen as more appealing.

Campbell`s belief was that `the government needs a strong fist to drive down its message to the public.` Having worked as a reporter for a tabloid newspaper, he has put more focus on package than the substance and images than the truth. It is said that he had led the politics of `awe and terror,` by using sticks and carrots to the media based on his manipulating skills, aggressiveness and creativity. What if his manipulation had indeed led Britain to join American attack on Iraq and the revelation threatens Blair`s premiership in the end? Former leader of the Conservative Party William Hague, who was an archrival to Blair, once noted that `a government founded on spin will ruin because of the foundation of spin.`

Downing Street plays down the report of Campbell`s departure. Newspapers point out that his departure must be a low-key event since his resignation will mostly likely be seen as admitting the claim. It is welcoming that a spin doctor who has gone too far to play with the truth is gone. Yet, there is one underlying question. What brought Campbell of today in the first place? Criticizing the mouth of the man in power instead of the man himself is like finding fault with a finger pointing at the moon instead of the moon.

Kim Sun-deok, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com