Friday, January 15, 2010

A Master class in spin

Today was a fairly normal day in Ireland. Nothing of note really happened did it!

Certainly nothing happened in comparison to the terrible news thats coming out of Haiti.

On every newspaper, television and radio station there is going to be wall to wall focus on the disaster. And we will all watch it. Not out of a morbid desire or some strange car-crash voyeurism but because as normal people we will watch this and feel a deep empathy and sorrow for the suffering of other people.

You'd think that most people would think the same. Well unfortunately they dont. Some people look at this as a useful disaster and they think every cloud has a silver lining.

Looking at I was struck by a series of related posts.

At 12:25 Minister Mary Harney "announced the roll out of a bowel cancer screening programme which kills around 930 people here every year."

Hmm! Fair play the Govt. Doing the right thing. I am impressed.

But wait...there is more:

At 12:32 Mary Mary strides once more across the media like a colossus with another missive:

"The Health Minister has today announced that she is reversing the decision not to roll out the cervical cancer vaccine for secondary school students."

Oh! So they climbed down did they. But at least they are also doing the right thing. And so rather than this being a craven climb down we know have a positive cancer detection strategy. Rather than caving we now have Harney the leader. Aint she the bomb.

That this "leadership" was on the 1:00 news did no harm to Harney or the govt. A climb down became a positive and a problem was neutered. Best of all nobody was going to focus on this too much. Because of Haiti it was just accepted and the news moves on.

Next it was the turn of fellow Fianna Failer John Gormley.

No sooner was the 1:00 clock news show over than John boy was ready to roll. There was just enough time to make the tea and do the dishes after Dinner before he started his bit.

At 14:23 modernising John confirmed that "Dubliners will directly elect a Mayor this year.Environment Minister John Gormley has announced the capital's citizens will go to the polls in June. The job will command the same salary as a Government minister."

Who could not be impressed. This was the Greens as they want us to see them. The party modernising the southern state's dated institutions by coming up with a trendy Mayor idea. I was in awe but John didnt stop there. He was on his bike ...

At 14:46 decisive, honest, reforming John came out "to limit junkets for Councillors. Green Party leader John Gormley says he is determined to end the "abuse" of Councillors attending too many conferences."

Thats the kind of Greens we wanted to see. The Greens we once believed in etc etc. I could almost see myself voting Greens at the next election. Their story was beginning to get some traction at some level.The Greens love pretending they are a modernising force. And today they piled it on trying to get that message into our head.

But the coup de grace was at 18:25 because at that hour reported that "Ireland is sending 80 tonnes of emergency supplies to Haiti following Tuesday's devastating earthquake.The aid will be distributed to 8,000 families through charities Concern and GOAL who are working on the ground there."

And thats only right and good to see but wait whats this at end:

"Some 35 members of the Government's Rapid Response Team are also on standby to travel to the stricken region."

The Governmant's Rapid reaction force? Excuse me? Who the hell is that? Or do they instead mean the southern Irish state's rapid reacion force. Because by christ whats it got to do with the those parasites sitting around the cabinet table. Still, pile it on! If it makes the govt. look good they'll do it.

Today Mary Harnney and John Gormley took advantage of a disaster to stack their messages so as to command attention at news time. Nothing could compare with Haiti but by stacking the messages they could command some air time and sell their messge to the people. Mary turned a negative into a positive and Gormley used today to reboot his parties image and once more push out the message that the Greens are reforming and modernising.

Is this nasty. Yeah of course it is but by god they are slick operators.

Today was a master class in media and ultimately voter manipulation.

Link Backs: Political Messages


  1. Well spotted and an enjoyable article to read.

  2. I don't get your point here. what they did was good, so why announce it on a day of focus on Haiti? I would understand your point if they bured bad news on this date.

  3. Because people would have been checking the news yesterday much more than normal and by ensuring the message went out yesterday they maximised the number folks who saw it. I dont think they were trying to bury anything but I believe that they put enough items together that the media would be obligated to go with those stories. Maybe the climb down could or the announcement of the Mayor could have been ignored but by stacking the stories together tv and radio would have enough to go with the stories. It was a huge audience and they took the opportunity to maximise the impact of their message and generate a positive profile. Maybe thats right maybe its not.

  4. guy called Neil Stockley has a nice blog that covers the dark art of messages, media manipulation and spin. interesting read. He is a media guru for the Lib Dems in Britain.

  5. I missed this yesterday..... are you telling me they are considering sending 35 members of the rapid reaction team?
    FFS aren't they planning their St Patricks day Parades worlwide?