Lexically, spin doctor means a person who provides a favourable slant to an item of news, potentially unpopular policy, and so on, especially on behalf of a political personality or party.
Interpret this to mean that they are allowed to hoodwink journalists in such a way that they look forward to being duped by these glib spokesmen with the gift of the gab.
The US's White House thrives on spin doctors who have perfected their job.
How many times have we seen them on TV unflinchingly trying to justify George Bush's continued equivocal presence in Iraq?
And these spin doctors are very user-friendly for journalists. Ask me.
The same cannot be said about our government's spokesmen. Say "media" to them at your own risk.
One of our young reporters nearly dropped the phone in tears the other day.
She was trying to get comment from one of Gauteng's top cops who will remain unnamed.
She told me: "I wanted a comment on a very big story and called the officer who duly asked me to phone an hour later.
"I did so, but he suddenly bawled: 'I do not have the information. Why do you call me? Don't call me again'."
In another incident, a police spokesman told her: "Didn't you get [the police media officers'] duty list? Check your fax machine next time." And hung up.
Then there is the curse of the cellphone and e-mail.
I wonder why some of these spokesmen bother to have cellphones at all because they are always on voicemail and they seldom return your calls.
If you manage to speak to a human voice you will be referred to someone else, who, in turn, will give you a statement like: "Hao, why did they refer you to me? I'm on sick leave."
After being shunted around for most of last month, a colleague on the controversial taxi recapitalisation programme story sent a list of questions by e-mail to the Transport Department. She is still waiting for a reply.
It would be better if they emulated their White House counterparts and spun some yarn. Our job is also tough, you know.
l On a lighter note, this was dropped in my e-mail:
A man dies and goes to hell. There he finds that there is a different hell for each country. He picks the least painful to spend his eternity. He comes to the South African hell and finds that there is a long queue."
Amazed, he asks: "What do they do here?"
He is told: "First they put you in an electric chair. Then they lay you on a bed of nails. The South African devil comes in and whips you for the rest of the day."
So he asks: "But that is exactly the same as all the other hells. Why are there so many people waiting to get in?"
"Because Eskom is struggling, there is never any electricity, so the electric chair doesn't work. The nails were paid for but never delivered, so the bed is comfortable. And the South African devil used to be a civil servant. So he comes in, signs his time-sheet and goes out to do his private business for the rest of the day."