Republican Frank Luntz Once Again Put Forth As Neutral Analyst. This Time He Just Happens To Conclude That Only The Democratic Candidates Blatantly Distort The Truth
Reported by Ellen - April 3, 2008 -
Hannity & Colmes offered a discussion last night (4/2/08) about what the lower third of the screen described as “analyzing the candidates misstatements from the trail.” It was a two-part segment in which the only guest was Republican Frank Luntz, introduced simply as “pollster Frank Luntz.” Predictably, Luntz concluded that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were deliberately misleading the public with numerous misstatements while the single, briefly mentioned, misstatement from McCain was just a gaffe. With video.
First up for discussion was Clinton’s supposed opposition to NAFTA during her husband’s administration. Luntz admitted “It’s impossible to know actually what happened behind the scenes.” But that didn’t stop him from suggesting that she was lying anyway. “If she is shown to contradict what she has just said, voters want someone who says what they mean and means what they say. It’s the most important attribute in 2008. And if a candidate is shown to be taking both sides of an issue or worse yet, to be hypocritical, to claim one thing from a few years ago and then to be shown to be doing something else, they’re penalized from it.”
Alan Colmes asked, “Doesn’t that get neutralized during the campaign? I mean, when we have whoever it is versus John McCain and the various stances he’s taken on immigration, go down the list. Doesn’t that make it a wash?”
Personally, I’d say that John McCain’s flip-flops on torture and tax cuts mean more to Americans than whether or not Hillary Clinton opposed NAFTA back when she was First Lady. Same thing for Obama’s misstatement about his father’s scholarship being funded by the Kennedy’s. But I’m willing to bet that debate will never happen on “fair and balanced” FOX News’ prime time debate show.
“What I don’t think viewers may realize is just how tired these candidates are,” Luntz said. “And what you are seeing over the past 10 days is misstep after misstep. Now the question you have to ask is, are they genuine mistakes, where they apologize, or are they blatant attempts to either distort the truth or manipulate the truth?”
Luntz’ conclusions were not hard to predict.
Referring to Clinton’s misstatement about being under fire in Bosnia, Luntz said, “When you tie her verbal comments about how she was under sniper fire and then you see the video, it’s impossible to feel the same about her.”
So much for “We report. You decide.”
Next up was Barack Obama and his misstatement that his father had benefited from a scholarship program set up by the Kennedy’s. Once again “neutral” Luntz reported that “What we’ve seen – and Bill Clinton is good evidence of this – is that Democrats are always trying to tie themselves around the mantle of President Kennedy. He is still the most popular Democratic president – more so than Bill Clinton – and that’s why (Obama) tried to do it.”
Racially obsessed Sean Hannity took fewer than 15 seconds before maneuvering the discussion to Obama’s pastor. “Doesn’t this become about character, credibility?” Hannity asked.
Sure it does. It has a lot to do with Hannity’s character and credibility. Because while Hannity repeatedly assails Obama as a black racist, the evidence continues to mount that Hannity lied when he denied his past relationship with Neo-Nazi/white supremacist Hal Turner.
Luntz did mention McCain’s misstatements about Iranians funding and promoting Al Qaeda but Hannity immediately dismissed them by saying “Yeah, but he corrected it right away.” As it happens, Hannity was wrong. As Think Progress reports, “McCain made the claim at least three times on two separate occasions. He corrected himself only after the third utterance when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) whispered in his ear.” I’m sure “Honest Abe” Hannity will want to know and correct this misstatement right away so please feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Luntz not only let the falsehood stand, he went on to gratuitously attack John Kerry for flip-flopping. Somehow, Luntz never got around to discussing McCain's contradictory statements about Sadr nor his false claim that he did not highlight his time in Viet Nam.
Then it was back to bashing Obama, this time over his “punished with a baby” comment.
In Part 2, Luntz made a point of answering his earlier query about mistake or distortion in a way that – Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! – was unfavorable to Democrats. “It is one thing when you make a statement that is, that you get a date wrong, we understand that. But if you make a claim – and I understand that there’s a video on YouTube right now that shows Senator Clinton talking about arriving in Bosnia under sniper fire – and then you see what actually happened? She should have acknowledged that it was made up out of whole cloth and she should have made an apology. She didn’t do that. And that’s very different than just getting a name or a date wrong.”
Colmes returned to the subject of Obama’s father’s scholarship. “That could have been an easy chronological error,” Colmes noted. It’s a bit confusing in the discussion but Colmes was referring to the fact that the scholarship program Obama’s father participated in occurred prior to the one the Kennedy’s funded. “You don’t think Barack Obama purposely is saying, you know, 'Let’s involve the Kennedy’s. I’m gonna tell a lie here, move it up a year.'”
Yes, that’s exactly what Luntz was implying. “It is not as bad as what Senator Clinton said (about) Bosnia but that is something that is still creating a background that did not exist.”
There was no discussion of McCain's mix up of Iraq's Moqtada al-Sadr and Prime Minister Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malki (can you imagine if one of the Democrats did such a thing?), nor any discussion about the following issues raised in a March 3, 2008 article in the New York Times:
Mr. McCain, who derided his onetime Republican competitor Mitt Romney for his political mutability, has himself meandered over the years from position to position on some topics, particularly as he has tried to court the conservatives who have long distrusted him. His most striking turnaround has been on the Bush tax cuts, which he voted against twice but now wants to make permanent. Mr. McCain has also expressed varying positions on immigration, torture, abortion and Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary.