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Spin Alley

“Spin Alley” is the place designated after a political debate where reporters interview analysts and campaign operatives who attempt to “spin” the news coverage of the event.

The term “spin” itself refers to the deliberate manipulation of information or events to present a particular viewpoint or interpretation that benefits a specific political agenda or individual.

Thus, Spin Alley can be seen as the physical manifestation of this strategic effort to shape public discourse and sway popular opinion.

Origin of “Spin Alley”

The physical location of Spin Alley can vary depending on the context and event.

It is often situated adjacent to the venue where the political event is taking place, providing convenient access for politicians and their staff to interact with members of the media.

This proximity allows for immediate post-event analysis, interviews, and the dissemination of carefully crafted messages.

A video from the 2008 presidential campaign shows what the area looked like after a debate in New Hampshire.

Spin Alley serves as a crucial platform for political figures and their teams to engage with journalists, reporters, and pundits, offering them exclusive interviews, soundbites, or press releases that highlight specific talking points or deflect unfavorable narratives.

It is an arena where politicians attempt to control the news cycle and steer public attention towards their preferred topics or away from sensitive issues.

Said political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow explained:

After the debate, I took the press shuttle back to the media center — and to the small section therein blatantly designated ‘Spin Alley,’ ringed on three sides by bare-bones makeshift broadcast platforms and stuffed to capacity with reporters, camera crews and politicos.

Everywhere you looked there were clusters of media people surrounding spinners and surrogates, whose names were printed on laminated red signs held high above the crowd by aides. I felt like I was standing in the middle of one of my own damn cartoons come to life.

More on “Spin Alley”

A post-debate setting where surrogates for presidential candidates talk up their side’s performances.

Though it’s widely loathed, journalists can no more resist Spin Alley than a moth can resist a lamp—it provides one-stop-shopping for quick postdebate analysis.

Campaigns increasingly are shameless about whom they dispatch to Spin Alley. In the 2012 race, Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland even helped Vice President Joe Biden prepare for his debate against GOP rival Paul Ryan, then enthused to reporters afterward: “I think he (Biden) brought it all together and marshaled the facts.”

This ritual would seem rather anachronistic now, as Twitter lends itself to instant analysis and often is called the new Spin Alley. Still, campaigns continue to trot out spinners; in 2015, the Washington Post’s Ben Terris observed of the horde of media covering one GOP debate: “There’s something remarkable about how many people will fly hundreds of miles to watch a debate on television and then walk willingly to a place with the stated purpose of people lying to you.”

From Doubletalk © 2016 Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark.

Use of “Spin Alley” in a sentence:

  • During the heated presidential debate, the candidates retreated to Spin Alley to spin their performances and sway the media’s portrayal of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The politician’s team strategically orchestrated a press conference in Spin Alley, ensuring that their carefully crafted messages dominated the headlines the following day.
  • As the scandal unfolded, Spin Alley became a battleground where spin doctors worked tirelessly to spin the narrative in favor of their client, deflecting blame and downplaying the severity of the situation.