If you were to look for a political pollster or analyst who spent more time manufacturing a false narrative about the presidential election than Frank Luntz, you would probably give up in despair.
Luntz is a Fox News fixture who appears on numerous programs flaunting his phony focus groups that invariably swayed to favor Mitt Romney. He was also called upon to review campaign ads, some of which were produced by his Fox colleague, Karl Rove. Those reviews always seemed to rate the GOP ads better, which further affirmed his assessment that Romney was the favorite to win. And to top it off, Luntz is a consultant for hire to the Republican Party, so anyone expecting anything like objectivity from him is terminally naive.
Now that President Obama has decisively won reelection with an electoral landslide, Luntz has crawled out from beneath his wretched rightist rock to make what may be the most hilarious, deceitful, and self-serving statement of the whole campaign season:
“The published polls that the Romney campaign and the Republican establishment were trashing day after day turned out to be accurate. [...] This is a bad day for establishment pollsters and it’s something they should be held accountable for. You have to tell your clients the truth. And you have to be accurate. And to miss so many states and to be this far off – Your Fox News viewers ought to be outraged, because day in and day out they were told that Mitt Romney was going to win.”
Indeed, Fox News viewers should be outraged – At Luntz and Fox News! After all, that is where conservative voters were fed the most conspicuously dishonest misinformation about the election and the projected outcome. They are the reason that Romney and his supporters were described as “shell-shocked” when they realized that he had lost. They are the ones who promoted nonsense like “Unskewed Polls” that ironically sought to skew published polling so that Romney came out ahead.
Fox News was so brazenly hypocritical in their reporting of election surveys that they chose to only publish polls that had Romney in the lead. They ignored or disparaged any poll that put Obama on top – even their own Fox News commissioned polls.
If election day was “a bad day for establishment pollsters,” it was a bad day for Luntz, because you don’t get more establishment than him. He was as much a part of the problem as anyone. Just a couple of weeks before the election he appeared on Fox to say that it was time to “take Florida off the swing state list,” because it had swung clearly and irreversibly to Romney. Of course, Florida went for Obama, as did all but one of the so-called “swing states.”
The disingenuous babble on Fox News has only one purpose: advance the political interests of conservatives and Republicans. That fact was illuminated by none other than Luntz himself when he told the Los Angeles Times that his airtime has previously been cut on Fox because “his findings didn’t comport with the outlet’s orthodoxy.” That’s an admission that Fox requires their contributors to toe a partisan line, and Luntz has obviously complied.
For Luntz to come out now and tell Fox viewers that they should be outraged is typical behavior for a propagandist who calls himself the “Word Doctor.” He is a professional flack who counsels his clients to lie by distorting language. It was Luntz who coined the term “government-run health care” as an alternative to the Affordable Care Act (or ObamaCare). It didn’t matter that the legislation was only aimed at health insurance and was not in any way a government takeover of medical services. The phrase itself was awarded the “Lie of the Year” from PolitiFact.
It’s what Luntz does. In one of his more infamous efforts to distort public discourse, he delivered a speech before a group of Republicans wherein he offered a series of rhetorical replacements for words he thought were damaging to the GOP cause. Words like “capitalism, compromise,” and “middle-class.” This screed was served up after first declaring his abject fear of the Occupy Wall Street movement, saying that he was “so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism.” And his approach to countering it was not to formulate a policy response, but to change the wording of the GOP rebuttal in the hopes of confusing the public.
So, should Fox News viewers be outraged? I’ll say. But, sadly, they will probably just sink back into their stupor and continue to believe whatever falsehoods Fox throws at them going forward. Fox is already trying to sell the myth that Obama’s victory was insignificant and comes without a mandate. They are soft-peddling an electoral blowout and the fact that Democrats won even more seats in both the House and the Senate in a year where they were expected to lose seats. They are fostering the notion that the GOP should resist tax increases on the wealthy, despite the fact that Obama ran (and won) on that platform and exit polls show that 60% of voters favor it.
This further demonstrates that Fox is doing precisely the same things that ought to have enraged their viewers, and when they lose these arguments as well, their audience will be similarly shell-shocked. But they are getting exactly what they deserve by being foolish enough to keep watching a network that deliberately lies to them.