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Republican Frank Luntz’ “Fair And Balanced” Analysis Of Bush and Gore

Reported by Ellen - March 23, 2007 -

Republican pollster Frank Luntz has been a regular guest on Hannity & Colmes of late to offer his supposedly impartial analysis of the way politicians communicate and the meanings behind their words. Last night (3/22/07), he interpreted the meanings of Bush and Gore the FOX News way: by finding principled and thoughtful jurisprudence in Bush’s opposition to White House subpoenas and deliberate obfuscation in Al Gore’s Congressional testimony. With video.

The discussion began with a clip of John and Elizabeth Edwards’ press conference about the recurrence of her cancer. Alan Colmes asked the apparently scripted question, “Did he mean what he said?” However, both Colmes and Luntz agreed that the couple showed mettle and moxie that would resonate with Americans.

Next, Colmes played a clip of Bush characterizing any subpoenas from Congress as “a partisan fishing expedition.” Bush was also shown saying, “I hope they don’t choose confrontation. I will oppose any attempts to subpoena White House officials.”

“Hey, isn’t that confrontation?” Colmes asked.

“No, it’s setting apart the difference in terms of the Constitution and what is proper separation of the different bodies,” Luntz replied.

Say what? I replayed the clip twice to make sure I hadn’t missed Bush saying something about the Constitution and proper separation but if he did, it wasn’t in the clip on Hannity & Colmes.

From there, Luntz strayed from the “hidden message” (as the backdrop behind Colmes said) of Bush’s words into justifying them. But first, Luntz noted his impartiality by saying, “You heard me speak very favorably of Senator Edwards before.” That said, he launched into an attack on Democrats. “What we have is very much a partisan witch hunt that’s going on.” Luntz went on to accuse Democrats of trying to exploit Bush’s low approval ratings.

Colmes brought the conversation back to its purported subject. “We’re talking about what the president said, though, and the way he addressed it. Didn’t he sound a bit peevish in that statement about Congress?”

Not to Oliver Wendell Luntz, he didn’t. “I don’t see how, if it’s clear, if it’s concise, if it’s to the point. The two most important communication guidelines that anyone can use is brevity, which is what he was, and clarity. And it’s very clear where he stood. How can you complain about that?”

Colmes characterized Bush’s remarks as, “I’ll let you talk to people in my administration, but no transcripts, you gotta do it in private, there can’t be any public record of it, and, you know, basically laying down the gauntlet, challenging Congress to subpoena, which they have the right to do. They legally can do that.”

Luntz insisted it wasn’t challenging “if you’re stating very clearly where you stand, what is appropriate.” He predicted that the public would look at the whole thing as politics.

Of course, he didn’t mention that Alberto Gonzales’ unfavorability ratings are climbing and that a plurality of Americans want him to resign, according to a Rasmussen Reports poll (H/T Think Progress). The American people must not be as up to speed with the White House’s judiciousness as Luntz is.

When it was Sean Hannity’s turn, he went after Al Gore. Hannity played a selective excerpt from Gore’s testimony yesterday in which he seemed to refuse to pledge to Senator James Inhofe that he’d consume no more energy than the average American household. But as Media Matters has noted, Gore also told Inhofe that he lives a “carbon neutral” life, purchases green energy and was in the process of installing solar panels on his home. That remark was left out of the clip Hannity played for Luntz. Meanwhile, Hannity got in a few extra digs about Gore’s private jet and other “hypocrisies.”

Luntz took the bait. “Brevity, there wasn’t any, clarity, there wasn’t any, simplicity, there wasn’t any.”