There’s a technique that sits at the heart of conjuring tricks called misdirection the act of drawing attention away from the trick itself. You all know how it works: the conjurer will flourish a brightly coloured handkerchief in one hand, while the trick is quietly taking place unnoticed in the other.
The same thing happens in spin when a politician wishes to draw attention away from an issue, and National are particularly adept at it. Yesterday’s example of producing a decontextualised quote about the treaty from Cullen in order to draw attention away from Key’s comments was a classic example of misdirection in action, and was very similar to when Key was caught out claiming the Iraq war was over and then tried to claim Labour had said similar things.
But the mother of all misdirections, the one which is probably framed and hanging on Crosby Textor’s office wall of fame, is the ‘stolen emails’ misdirection. Remember that?
Rather than discuss the content of the emails that featured in the Hollow Men, National’s response was to make a huge fuss over the fact that they were ‘stolen’ and make that the story instead. The fact that there has been no evidence produced to prove this and the police believe it was an inside job is irrelevant now because like all of National’s spin their misdirection sits within a greater framework of hit and run PR and they are confident (with considerable reason) that the memory hole will take care of the story if they can get just past it in the short term.
So just remember, when National are making a big song and dance about something it probably pays to watch their other hand.