Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Stop PBS from hurting its own good name

I'm sure you've already heard that PBS will be hosting the next Democratic presidential forum on Thursday, June 28, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. What you may not know is that PBS has invited Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican pollster and strategist, to provide "immediate public feedback on the performances of the candidates" during post-forum coverage on the Tavis Smiley program.

Of course, when Luntz's appearance was announced, the press release made no mention of his Republican ties or long history of being criticized for his work.

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If you don't know much about Frank Luntz, here are some important facts about this discredited Republican pollster:

  • In 1997, the American Association for Public Opinion Research formally reprimanded Luntz for refusing to release documentation in support of comments he made to the media regarding his polling work on the Republican Party's 1994 "Contract with America" campaign platform, according to a Salon.com article.
  • Washington Post polling director Richard Morin reported that the National Council on Public Polls censured Luntz "for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups he conducted during the [2000] Republican Convention."
  • In September 2004, MSNBC dropped Luntz from its planned coverage of that year's presidential debate coverage, following a letter from Media Matters that outlined Luntz's GOP ties and questionable polling methodology.

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  • According to a January 29, 2007, article on The New Republic's website, Luntz "not only helped write Republican House member Newt Gingrich's Contract with America; he was also responsible for its presentation to the public." He also "advised Republicans trying to impeach Bill Clinton."
  • Luntz's 2002 memo "The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America" coached Republicans on new ways to talk about global warming and warned the party that the environment "is probably the single issue on which Republicans in general -- and President Bush in particular -- are most vulnerable."
  • A June 2004 memo by Luntz, "Communicating The Principles Of Prevention & Protection In The War On Terror," urged Republicans to use concepts such as "It is better to fight the War on Terror on the streets of Baghdad than on the streets of New York or Washington" and "9/11 changed everything," which have been staples of Republican rhetoric ever since.

With his well-documented Republican ties and history of being criticized and reprimanded by his peers, it's clear that Frank Luntz cannot be trusted to provide objective analysis of Thursday's forum.

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Today, I'm asking you to contact PBS and let the organization know that it should reconsider its decision to use Luntz in light of his partisan Republican ties and history of questionable scientific methodology. If Luntz must be a part of PBS post-forum coverage, let it know you expect that its viewers will be informed of these facts on the air.

[Signed by David Brock of Media Matters]

To Contact PBS Directly:

PBS/Public Broadcasting Service
2100 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
Email PBS

Tavis Smiley Show
4401 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Email the Show
Always remember: an effective media contact is a courteous media contact.