Spin | Chicago Reader

Spin

In 1992, Brian Springer used his satellite dish in Buffalo to scavenge 500 hours of television feeds from America's media power brokers, capturing moments that are normally deleted by local television stations. Edited down to 58 minutes, the resulting documentary (1995) is a remarkable exercise in video voyeurism, reporting unguarded small talk from the likes of Bill Clinton, Al Gore, George Bush the elder, Pat Robertson, Jerry Brown, Larry King, Dan Rather, and their offscreen handlers. During a break on a call-in show, someone coaches Robertson on how to brush off the callers: “You take the one sentence and turn it around and go on to another issue. . . . You can talk about anything you want.” When King tells Bush that they'll be watched in 151 countries, the president replies, “Do you think Saddam Hussein is watching this very minute?” King's behavior is particularly embarrassing: “Ted Turner changed the world. He's a big fan of yours,” he tells Governor Clinton. “He would, ah, serve you—you know what I mean. . . . I'd call him. After you're elected. Think about it.” But not everyone's spin is welcome on the airwaves, as Springer later discovered when the PBS program POV turned down his project for national broadcast.

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