The Spin Cycle: BS from BP
By Emmett Burnett
Just when we thought we had heard it all, BP’s CEO issues the following statement concerning the Gulf oil spill: “It is relatively tiny compared to a very big ocean.”
That’s like the captain of the Titanic saying, “Don’t worry folks, we just stopped for ice.”
It is called "spin," the art of twirling a bad thing into a good one. And when it comes to spinning, BP is a pinwheel. Take their “tiny” oil spill comment. Yes it’s tiny, like the state of Rhode Island is tiny. And the spill is about the size of Rhode Island. So we should be happy, it will be another month before it’s the size of Alaska.
BP is not alone. Everyone spins us. Take the telephone automated recording, “Your call is very important to us.” Bologna. If my call was important to you, I would be speaking to a live human being instead of pressing 2 for English.
And another one: Next time on a commercial flight, notice the back of the seat in the row in front of you. There should be a sign attached: “In an emergency your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device.” Wow, I feel so much better. If my plane crashes in the Gulf of Mexico, I’ll grab this life preserver/seat cushion and dive into the ocean. With luck, sharks won’t see me for the oil spill. I now have survivor training and may enlist with the Navy SEALS.
And there are little spin phrases too such as:
- “Pre-arrangement needs,” the process of giving a funeral home measurements for the last suit you will ever wear.
- “Relaxed fit jeans” – any pants 7 sizes larger than you wore in high school.
- “Tall grande,” a term justifying a $2 cup of coffee.
- “Teachable moment,” something President Obama says everyone else can learn from when he screws up.
But big time spinning is best left to professionals like Richard Blumenthal.
Last month Blumenthal, Connecticut’s Attorney General and U.S. senatorial candidate, proudly referenced his military service gallantly and heroically spent in Vietnam. One little thing: he was never there.
When caught Blumenthal said, “On several occasions I have ‘misspoke’ about my record. But I am proud of my service to country.” He called it “a matter of a few misplaced words.”
Okay, let me try it. I am proud of my astronaut service, and being Satsuma’s first citizen in space. Sorry, I misspoke – never been an astronaut, never been in space. But I eat Milky Way bars and I live in Satsuma. The astronaut comments were an unfortunate use of misspoke and misplaced words.
And today I am announcing my candidacy for Connecticut Senator. I think I’ve got it!
Back to BP’s problem (and we will for the next 20 years) the company is trying to whitewash black oil.
Here is what they want to take your mind off of:
- 1. They punctured a hole in the earth and oil gushed out.
- 2. They have no idea how to stop it.
How many times did executives say, “We don’t know if this will work, it's never been tried before.” And with each failure we were told, “This was a “learning experience” (not to be confused with “teachable moments”).
Now it’s our turn to learn how shrimp taste marinated in petroleum. How’s that for spin?
(Burnett has been a freelance writer in Mobile for more than 20 years. For more information, visit his website.)