Kuala Lampur, July 12 -- The phrase "spin doctor" first appeared in print in October 1984 in an editorial in the New York Times on the aftermath of the televised debate between then presidential candidates, Ronald Reagan and Walter Mondale.

The White House Chief of Staff at the time, Don Regan, was informally known as "Director of Spin Control".

What species of man or beast is a spin doctor?

Originating in the jargon of American politics, a spin doctor usually materialises in the form of a senior political spokesperson on the payroll of the powerful (politicians and suchlike) whose job is to promote a positive interpretation of events to journalists and the public.

The tools of spin can be varied like the use of half-truths, exaggerat...