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Spin, exposed live and wriggling.
July 4, 2006 7:45 PM   Subscribe

Spin, exposed live and wriggling. In 1995, Brian Springer released an hour-long documentary film comprised of incredibly revealing moments caught from raw satellite feeds. Not only do we get to hear the spin-doctor coaching candidates received during various commercial breaks, there are also some amazing moments such as Larry King suggesting to Clinton that Ted Turner could "serve him," an anchor suggesting to her expert that during the L.A. riots his frank diagnosis of inner-city hope is "too obtuse," and the exclusion and exclusion of Larry Agran from the 1992 Democratic primaries — and, really, there's much more.
posted by WCityMike (23 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I remember when this first came out. Good stuff.

These days it's not quite so easy to catch all these "wild feeds" on satellite -- you need a modern MPEG-capable receiver, not just an old analog one. On the other hand, a lot of the news traffic has moved from C-band to Ku-band, meaning a smaller dish (no more B.U.D.'s -- Big Ugly Dishes). But it's still mostly unencrypted. Hmmm, maybe it's actually gotten easier ...

I'm sure someone here can point out some resources for finding wild feeds.
posted by intermod at 8:05 PM on July 4, 2006


a truly great film. download a higher quality version here. some of the other films on the site are worth downloading / watching as well.
posted by namagomi at 8:07 PM on July 4, 2006


That was great
posted by Smedleyman at 8:14 PM on July 4, 2006


First mentioned here.
posted by mischief at 8:15 PM on July 4, 2006


Feed had some great stuff, too.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 8:18 PM on July 4, 2006


Wow, I had no idea about this, thanks! So if it's easier nowadays, anybody know of other, newer stuff like this?
posted by puke & cry at 8:18 PM on July 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


After watching the first 20 mins, I find that the feeds themselves are not so interesting: people off-camera are for the most part boring or awkward (or at least the producers don't offer any of the promised juicy behind the scenes action.) The documentation of the reciprocal relationship between the campaigns and the media is interesting but not surprising. Maybe in the early 90s this would have been more relevatory.

I had never heard of the Agran story, but it seems less like a conspiracy against him by the big players than a failure on the part of his campaign and the democractic party aparatus which seemed to have little interest him as a candidate. Maybe his marginal popularity could have been better leveraged by attaching himself to a third party? (Perhaps not so viable an option at the time (or now.))
posted by imposster at 8:32 PM on July 4, 2006


It kind of wanders all over the place.
posted by callmejay at 8:51 PM on July 4, 2006


This is interesting, but not that sinister.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:38 PM on July 4, 2006


What's the great revelation here? Candidates have coaches? Larry King isn't a great journalist? It seems less about spin and more about artifice.
posted by Shanachie at 9:40 PM on July 4, 2006


If there was anything worthwhile in these feeds they'd encrypt them.
posted by cillit bang at 10:28 PM on July 4, 2006


The documentation of the reciprocal relationship between the campaigns and the media is interesting but not surprising. Maybe in the early 90s this would have been more relevatory.

The big joke is that last year a few media writers spent a week or two criticizing the TV networks for running some new "video news releases" from the White House without telling viewers they were administration propaganda, and for as long as their attention span allowed it, the media folks made a big show of being outraged and surprised that this was going on, as if they didn't know it's been happening for years.

If you click through the Romenesko archives, you can read the idiots feigning surprise, patting each other on the back for condemning the practice, then forgetting about the whole thing. Guess what? They still run the video news releases, because the vast majority of TV news stations are low budget pieces of shit owned by suits who only care about profits and staffed by egos who only care about having their faces on TV.
posted by Alexandros at 12:22 AM on July 5, 2006


If there was anything worthwhile in these feeds they'd encrypt them.

I doubt Pat Robertson wanted to say on the air "that guy was a homo."

So no, they didn't encrypt the feeds. Maybe you should actually watch the video before commenting.
posted by puke & cry at 1:37 AM on July 5, 2006 [1 favorite]


Saw this years ago but never checked out the follow-up film. I distinctly remember a bit where a local affialiate anchor gets very worked up before a broadcast saying something like "Why are we here? What is there to report?" then "Oh, right, I forget that this network insists we get up here every single day and attempt to shock the shit out of you!" Then Springer cuts to the start of the broadcast itself where he suddenly looks very calm and sincerely interested. Priceless.
posted by inoculatedcities at 4:34 AM on July 5, 2006


As someone who works "in the biz," I can definitely say that people can be surprisingly candid even though they're on camera and with a live mic on.

Most times they're so used to being in that position that they forget themselves, or are bullshitting with the people in the control room and being deliberately outrageous to get a reaction.

Politicians, for the most part, are very aware of this and the good ones have their mouths under control from the moment they enter the studio. Hosts, anchors and celebrity guests....not so much.

Also, the feeds don't exist for the good of the guests, but for the good of the network. Content is just filler for the spaces between commercial breaks, and it's sort of implicitly acknowledged in a lot of studios.
posted by nevercalm at 5:17 AM on July 5, 2006


What Alexandros said.

And let's not forget the daily spin briefing email from Roger Ailes (head of FOX News and former GOP chair) to the FOX News/GOP shock troops!
Message discipline folks!
Stick to the prescribed story!

Today's example: North Korea. Lots about that, just never a mention of Pakistan's role in NK's development as a nuclear power. Shhh!!!!
posted by nofundy at 7:06 AM on July 5, 2006


People who go on TV, including Presidents, put on make-up??? I am shocked!
posted by ChasFile at 7:09 AM on July 5, 2006


I doubt Pat Robertson wanted to say on the air "that guy was a homo."

Nothing scandalous or unexpected about that. This guy wants us to be outraged because stations plan their news stories? Because candidates repeat themselves at various campaign appearances? Because TV personalities get makeup touchups? Everything in this film seems pretty routine.
posted by thirteenkiller at 7:36 AM on July 5, 2006


So no, they didn't encrypt the feeds. Maybe you should actually watch the video before commenting.

Huh? You expect me to be shocked that Pat fucking Robertson hates gays? Or that people carefully plan what to say before going on TV in front of millions?
posted by cillit bang at 8:10 AM on July 5, 2006


cillit bang, you or I are not surprised by that fact, but my mother would be. These documentaries are generally made for people who don't have their hand on the pulse of liberal outrage.
posted by schroedinger at 9:23 AM on July 5, 2006


MetaFilter: a hand on the pulse of liberal outrage.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:09 AM on July 5, 2006


mmm... feeds.
posted by ninjew at 11:13 AM on July 5, 2006


I remember hearing about this when it came out - and I never got to see it. I am happy to finally see it - it is very relevant even 14 years later

-A
posted by mogabog at 1:28 PM on July 5, 2006


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