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Supposedly Neutral Pollster Frank Luntz Brags About Persuading His Focus Group Members To Favor McCain

Reported by Ellen - May 2, 2008 -

Republican Frank Luntz, who has been reprimanded for misrepresenting polling data, was once again presented as a neutral pollster on Hannity & Colmes last night (5/1/08), this time with another focus group of undecided voters. The only excerpt we saw from the focus group was Luntz repeating his gotcha game designed to make Obama supporters look and feel foolish. As he chatted on the Hannity & Colmes set, Luntz boasted that after the focus group, some of the respondents had changed their point of view as a result. Then he joked that “if only the economy was better” they could do it every day. When Alan Colmes challenged Luntz' findings, Luntz turned testy and rude. With video.

White-rights champion and Neo-Nazi sympathizer Sean Hannity began with an introduction that took a slap at black voters. “In (Indiana and North Carolina) Obama leads with the younger vote and among African American voters, even after the Rev. Wright media tour.” (my emphasis)

Viewers were not given any information about Luntz' background nor of his ties to the Republican Party. Hannity introduced Luntz by saying, “Joining us now for analysis, our own Frank Luntz is with us.”

The gotcha question was one that Luntz got from Hannity (probably the most partisan Republican in broadcasting): Name an accomplishment of Barack Obama. As a senator, Obama's role is to help craft legislation, a multi-layered process that occurs mostly out of camera range. As a junior senator, he would not chair hearings nor conduct investigations. But Obama has accomplished quite a few pieces of successful legislation, as Colmes later enumerated. Obama was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review.

Given that the media – and FOX News in particular – has focused almost exclusively on Obama's pastor and his neighbor, one could argue that the respondents' failure to name one of Obama's accomplishments says more about our media coverage than it does about Obama. But Luntz barely hid his delight as he ridiculed the undecided voters who have been thinking of voting for Obama but, in Luntz' words, could not say why. We didn't see the voters saying that they couldn't say what they liked about Obama but, according to Luntz, “It's a feeling.” He said it derisively.

Hammy Hannity exclaimed, “This is the MOST TELLING! Nobody knows anything about him.”

Luntz said exultantly, “People afterwards that came up to me and tugged on my jacket and said, 'You know what? I actually --' In listening to all of us here--' They changed their point of view. It really (it sounded as though he was going to say 'it really worked')... I told 'em.”

As Hannity joked that Luntz should hold focus groups all around the country, Luntz replied, “You can do it every day, Sean. If only the economy was better, we could do it every day.”

When Colmes pointed out that voters would not have been able to name a single accomplishment of George W. Bush in 2000, Luntz no longer denigrated the power of voters' emotions. Based on accomplishments, Gore should have won, Luntz acknowledged. “(Voters) did not want to let Al Gore into their living rooms every day... They just didn't like Al Gore.” Luntz' tone implied that was Gore's fault.

Next, Colmes noted that McCain's “accomplishments” named by the focus group respondents were not really accomplishments at all. “Immigration – well, that immigration bill didn't pass. That was not an accomplishment... Taxes is not an accomplishment of John McCain. He's flip-flopped.“

“At least they could name something!” Luntz said ridiculously.

“You want me to name something?” Colmes asked. He began to cite some of the pieces of legislation that Obama has gotten passed.

Luntz turned obnoxious and rude, probably because he could not refute Colmes' arguments. “You don't have to read your notes. You don't have to read your notes. Talk to me!”

Colmes continued by naming more of Obama's accomplishments (without notes). “He passed what the Washington Post called the strongest ethics legislation. They reduced the conventional and nuclear weapons. He has hundreds of pieces of legislation.”

Luntz turned to Hannity and said with a sneer, “Is this now the Alan Colmes show?”

“I'm giving you things that he's accomplished,” Colmes said. “The things that were mentioned about John McCain were not accomplishments.”

Apparently, Luntz had no rebuttal for that, either. “Do you know what they're most impressed with?” Luntz asked. “That this man (meaning McCain) spent five and a half years in prison and he never broke. He didn't break. They tried everything and he didn't break. And you know what they said in the end? If he can withstand North Viet Nam, then he can withstand Washington.”

Perhaps remembering that he was not supposed to be too blatantly partisan, Luntz conceded, “I'm not going to dismiss the fact that (Obama is) inspirational, that young people are voting for the first time that never did. And, by the way, THAT'S an accomplishment.”

Luntz also agreed with Colmes that being the first African American with a serious chance to become president of the United States is also a great accomplishment. Still, Obama was no match for McCain, to "impartial" Luntz. He said, “But when you compare that to someone who is a genuine American hero, that's all I'm saying.”

Apparently, Luntz never considered that Obama might be a genuine American hero to a whole lot of African Americans... and whites, too.