Frank Luntz is a fixture on Fox News. His polling and focus groups are regularly featured on the network and, by some weird coincidence, always seem to reflect poorly on President Obama and Democratic policies.
Luntz was called upon again to survey opinions of the President’s State of the Union speech. What he delivered was a shamelessly partisan spectacle that was tainted further by his leading questions and open bias. James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times noted how Luntz slyly planted impressions in the minds of his panelists. But there was something even more surprising in what Rainey learned from Luntz when asked about his misrepresentations:
“Luntz defends himself by saying that he has conducted focus groups before that favored Obama, including during the 2008 campaign. He has suggested that his airtime has previously been cut on Fox because his findings didn’t comport with the outlet’s orthodoxy.”
So there you have it, straight from the mouth of Fox’s golden boy political analyst. Even if you’re a favorite son in the Fox family, if you do not deliver the prescribed dosage of rightist rhetoric you will be punished, even exiled, by the network magistrates.
The obvious result of this is evident every day on Fox News. The network broadcasts a lock-step conservative version of current events because anything that diverts from their philosophy is excised before it can get on the air.
But there is a less obvious problem that results from this ideological intolerance. If you are, say, an ambitious pundit who wants to see his work receive recognition, and also wants the remuneration that goes with it, you might just be inclined shape your analyses to comply with the criteria handed down to you by your big media patrons.
So whether you are a pollster, a columnist, an academic, or even a politician, you know exactly what you have to say to get on Fox News. How many of their contributors and guests gleefully adjust their opinions in order to get more airtime? Thanks to Frank Luntz we know of at least one.