Soviet Spin Control

The press spokesmen were open, friendly, disarming. Dressed like Dan Rather in woolen sweaters, they answered tedious questions with droll reasonableness and prickly ones with studied courtesy. They made lame but endearing jokes at their own expense, treating reporters with an unaccustomed deference.

Americans may have invented the soft science of public relations, but in Reykjavík it was the Russians who provided a textbook example of how to win friends and influence people. Soviet spokesmen went out of their way to help Western correspondents in repeated briefings. Their doors were always open--which helped give the illusion that their policies were as...

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