[Chicago’s “spin doctors”]

As the 1989 mayoral election approaches in Chicago, this segment takes a look at the political consultants or "spin doctors," who influence local campaigns, including ? Zimmerman, Don Rose, and David Axelrod.

00:00Copy video clip URL A montage of journalists bombarding mayoral candidates in Chicago with questions. When a candidate can’t or won’t answer a question, a sin doctor is called in to speak on his or her behalf. They control the spin of a story to benefit your candidate and making the competitor look bad.

00:56Copy video clip URL An example: Larry Bloom wants to knock Richard Daley for backing a Com Ed hike in prices. Bill Zimmerman spins the story to the press. Meanwhile, another journalist gets a call from a rival spinner telling a story about Bloom accepting the endorsement of a Com Ed lobbyist, making Bloom look like the bad guy.

01:23Copy video clip URL A journalist says they want to use us, we want to use them. We both need to understand why we’re being so helpful.  A spinner is interviewed saying, “we’re necessary.” They know what makes for a good sound bite. By alerting the press to it, I create the circumstances for you to use a certain sound bite.

02:40Copy video clip URL An expert notes that if you have a weak candidate you’ll never make him strong by whispering into the ears of reporters.

02:50Copy video clip URL Journalist Jay Levine notes that David Axelrod, Don Rose, and Zimmerman, spinners for Harold Washington, have now spread out to offer their services to other city politicians. And few candidates dare run without them.

03:17Copy video clip URL END



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