In today's media environment, most major news stories are accompanied by healthy doses of spin.
Last week, BP issued a 193-page report that attempts to shift much of the blame for the world's biggest offshore spill to two other companies. Last month in New Jersey, when the state lost out on $400 million in federal education because of a clerical error on its application for the funds, Governor Christie attempted to turn the table and blame the Obama Administration for acting "like mindless drones" and not contacting state officials for the needed information.
Spin may be more prevalent today, but by no means is it new. Franklin Delano Roosevelt conducted press conferences on a regular schedule so he had the ability to set the agenda for the press and provide reporters with a regular flow of news. In addition, members of his staff often would plant questions with reporters so that they would ask about a topic the President wished to stress.
Other Presidents continued to manage the news, but not as overtly as FDR. In order to keep the news about the Eisenhower Administration positive, the President's press secretary, James Hagerty, used the White House as his venue for announcing favorable missile tests, but when there were failures, shifted the announcements to military locations. It was a subtle but effective mechanism.