Inbox: Political Spin

. Friday, July 4

Sometimes, what comes into my Inbox is just too good not to share. Though this one may be past its prime, it does highlight the ways a few select words can change the meaning behind a story. Enjoy.

Judy Wallman, a professional genealogical researcher, discovered that Hillary Clinton's great-great uncle, Remus Rodham, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889.

The only known photograph of Remus shows him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture is this inscription: 'Remus Rodham; horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison 1883, escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted, and hanged in 1889.'

Judy e-mailed Hillary Clinton for comments and Hillary's staff sent back the following biographical sketch:

"Remus Rodham was a famous cowboy in the Montana Territory. His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the Montana railroad.

Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to service at a government facility, finally taking leave in 1887 to resume his dealings with the railroad. Subsequently, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor, when the platform on which he was standing collapsed.'

And that is how it's done, folks!

5 comments: said...

I heard an almost identical story about Gunther Gore, Al Gore's great great uncle.

For more on the story, check out this source.

Theresa Komor said...

There's no doubt in my mind that the great majority of stuff passed around the Internet is bullshit. The point is, in this particular one, how easy it is to slant words to elicit the desired reaction. Change the name to whoever you want, the slant remains.

"I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" doesn't apply to Spin Doctors working for politicians!

The Commentator said...

My great, great, great (and son on) was a famous Roman emperor. In fact, my family founded Rome. It's true.

Kim said...

Great post! I am enjoying your blog!

Theresa Komor said...

@Commentator, I have no doubt you are probably very well versed in the art of spin! I don't care who or what it's about, it's too easy to "rephrase" to suit a given purpose. This is a very good example of just that - the spin.

@Kim - Thanks! I'm glad you stopped in!