Women Who Eat Their Young - And The Men Who Love Them
As the main site editor for OBERLIN.COM, I try to find news stories that are interesting, out of the mainstream, and woven from the truth. I have discovered this to be a daunting task – especially regarding the latter.
If Gordon Gecko was an agenda driven publisher instead of a Wall Street capitalist, his mantra might be, "Spin, for lack of a better term, is a good thing." Editorialization disguised as news seems to have permeated virtually every media venue. Opinions are fine as long as they are clearly presented as such. It is quite another kettle of fish when they are disseminated in sheep’s clothing and labeled “news”.
Madison Avenue is very adept at “spin”. Some of the best examples can be found in TV commercials and one of my favorites touts that “In many cases, most people thought…” What does this mean? The key words here are “many” and “most”. Let’s take 100 people for a survey and break them into groups of ten. Let’s assume in response to a question, exactly three of the groups have six of their ten people give an affirmative response. So in “many” cases (3 out of ten) “most” people (6 out of 10) thought…. However, if everyone else in the survey provided a negative response, that would mean only 18 (3x6) people out of 100 were in agreement with the proposition. Only 18% - but it sounds like the majority through the magic of spin.
In the political spectrum, both the right and the left have embraced the art of truth “redirection”. In a recent story regarding the tripling Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein's salary to $2 million, AlterNet.org, a progressive news site, had the following headline:
Salary triples for Goldman CEO Blankfein
It went on to report that “Such sums do not include the year-end bonuses which regularly multiply salaries at the top US banks by several times. Last year Blankfein pulled in a bonus of $9 million”.
For the same story, The Wall Street Journal, not known as a bastion of liberalism, reported:
Goldman Boosts Pay of Partners
It went on to say that this was the first increase for executives and partners since the securities firm went public in 1999 and was “…the latest sign of how Wall Street's pay culture is moving away from bonuses criticized for fueling reckless risk-taking that contributed to big losses during the financial crisis.” AlterNet made no mention of this information.
Even more egregious is a report regarding the cancer drug Avastin. The conservative website Human Events posted a “news” article entitled:
Congress Must Halt Travesty Against Breast Cancer Patients
This certainly piqued my interest but as I was reading, that little alarm in the back of my head was getting louder. It really started to buzz with this:
“...that's because we live in the era of ObamaCare, in which the government has been told it must 'bend the cost curve' of health care downward. The government has one tool in its arsenal to accomplish that goal—rationing of care and treatments for the sick and elderly—and the FDA has taken up the crusade.”
What? It was like a commercial spontaneously appeared in the middle of a news piece. One of the comments critical of the report’s veracity had a link to another report on Caring4Cancer:
Risk Of Death Higher With Avastin Than Chemo Alone
It went on to say that “Avastin in combination with chemotherapy had a 46 percent higher risk of dying from drug-related side effects than people who got chemotherapy alone…” and “…that U.S. regulators in December rescinded its approval in breast cancer.”
This had absolutely nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act yet one might think so after a cursory review of the Human Events article.
Spin is fine for yarn, a tale, or going for one in a car with your girl. However, we must resist the temptation to use it for editorializing in the guise of news.
Note that here at OBERLIN.COM we will never intentionally misrepresent the truth or twist a headline in order to garner your attention.