Tuesday, June 26, 2007

and then one day you wake up and find out you're working for Roger Ailes (do you suppose that's what happened to Bill O'Reilly?)

Anyway, Roger's old friend Frank Luntz is back, and PBS has got him
According to an April 4 press release, Republican pollster Frank Luntz will participate in the Public Broadcasting Service's coverage of the June 28 Democratic presidential forum, which will be televised live and moderated by PBS host Tavis Smiley: "Immediate public feedback on the performance of the candidates will be conducted by noted pollster Frank Luntz, who will also appear on 'Tavis Smiley' on PBS the following evening to discuss his findings." Fellow pollsters have criticized Luntz, a longtime Republican strategist, for mischaracterizing the results of his research, as Media Matters for America has noted. The PBS press release does not mention Luntz's Republican ties, repeating a pattern in the media identified by Media Matters.
Media Matters also points out that Luntz has professional issues of his own
As Media Matters has documented, Luntz's credibility has been a recurring issue. In 1997, the American Association for Public Opinion Research reprimanded Luntz for comments he made to the media regarding his polling work on the Contract with America, according to a 2000 Salon.com article. Similarly, Washington Post polling director Richard Morin reported in 2000 that the National Council on Public Polls "censured pollster Frank Luntz for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups he conducted during the [2000] Republican Convention."
Which is bad enough as far as it goes, but there's something else interesting about Mr. Luntz' "allegedly" non-representative focus groups which Mr. Morin for some reason chose not to mention in his story*
In a two-pronged assault on its own credibility NBC is reporting results of focus groups conducted by Republican pollster and consultant, Frank Luntz. On opening night of the convention he called the focus group’s utterances "representative" opinion...

While focus groups are useful for supplying context and nuance about a variety of issues or topics they are not a reliable gauge of public opinion on these subjects. Conclusions about what percentage of the general public holds a particular view, or any generalizations about the public, cannot be made from a focus group. Luntz talks about Republicans’, Democrats’ and independents’ opinions as though they applied to all members of those groups in the general public. In fact, those are only the opinions of those in his focus group. There is nothing scientific about these focus groups. They are more akin to a parlor game than to a public opinion poll.

While many news organizations have their news polling conducted by non-partisan pollsters (or a bi- partisan pairing) Luntz is widely known for his work in behalf of Republicans. YROCK.com, a Web site and Internet service run by the National Young Republicans, sponsors the Luntz focus group.

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And remember, be polite. Mr. Luntz, helpfully advising us on effective political communications strategy in the Huffington Post, shared with us that Obama is childish and unserious, Boxer is crude, Pelosi is callous, Kennedy is flippant, Democrats are knife-wielding sound bite addicts who are vindictive and don't care about saving lives, and partisan rudeness is counterproductive**


*shorter Mr. Morin: That's a nice professional organization you people got there. Shame if something happened to it.

**He also promises no lines at the Nancy Pelosi kissing booth

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