Word Dr. Frank Luntz Kills Patient, Reporters Cheer Successful Outcome
If you wonder why the MSM is in such trouble, check out this lede:
“Most Americans want the jobs and clean energy that Democratic-backed climate-change legislation could help bring but it backers are presenting the wrong messages, according to a prominent U.S. pollster.” Jan 21 (Reuters)
The “prominent U.S. pollster” is GOP-strategist and Fox-News analyst Frank Luntz. He’s also the founder of The Word Doctors, which defines itself as “a powerhouse in the profession of message creation and image management.”
One could argue that someone always pays for polling. Why single Luntz out?
The answer is: because professional polling organizations have singled him out.
Polling Trade Group: Luntz Technique a “Parlor Game”
Luntz likes to brag about the “instant response” focus group technique he “pioneered.”
He’s got cojones. I’ll give the guy that. His peers at the National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) gave Luntz a very public slap-down specifically for trying to palm-off his focus group results as unbiased.
From the NCPP website:
Luntz talks about Republicans’, Democrats’ and independents’ opinion 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.
Hey, everyone’s entitled to one act of professional…is “fraudulent activity” too harsh? Screw-up? Whatever. The point is he’s entitled to a do-over, right?
Oops. Turns out that was his do-over.
Another Polling Group: Luntz Violated Ethical Code
An article in Public Opinion Quarterly, the journal of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, Luntz was “formally reprimanded by the [AAPOR] for his work polling on the GOP’s 1994 Contract with America.”
The problem wasn’t so much his techniques in this case – it was the fact that he refused to reveal any substantive information about what techniques he actually used.
“[Luntz] finally did give us some information,” said the head of the AAPOR, “but it wasn’t enough….All we could tell was it seemed like there might have been some survey done.” (Quoted in the journal article cited above.)
Personally, I think the AAPOR is being a bit unfair (in addition to having a dumb acronym). Don’t they know that a true professional never, never, never reveals the secret behind a good parlor trick? It just ruins the show and disappoints the kids.
Oh, and don’t accuse Luntz of using “Orwellian” language in his word doctoring. As he explains in his book, Words That Work, “Calling someone Orwellian is not an insult. The term is actually a badge of honor.”
I’d quote his entire explanation, but it’s too…Orwelllian. (No, Frank, that’s not a compliment.)
Going Green with Dr. L.
Comes now, a new patient into Dr. L’s OR: Climate change.
Yesterday, as media outlets duly noted, Luntz unveiled his latest subject for cosmetic surgery. There is some irony here. As Reuters mentions in their article, Luntz previously advised the Bush Administration to sow doubt about the science behind climate change as an excuse for not taking action on the looming crisis.
That was then. This is…a new opportunity.
Luntz says he believes the science behind climate change has evolved enough to be accepted as fact. That, and there’s a new administration in town.
I won’t go into the details of his newest poll, partly because the results are predictable. (Here’s a sample: “Climate Change is REAL And WE’RE the cause.”)
Another reason I won’t go into the details is because he doesn’t provide any. According to a Word Doctor press release, the firm…
…conducted a national poll of 1,007 registered voters (+/- 3% margin of error). The firm also conducted a series of “Instant Response” qualitative dial sessions around the country.
How were the voters chosen? What’s the evidence for claiming a 3% margin of error? What the hell is a “qualitative dial session” and how were the results incorporated into a quantitative report?
The answer to all these questions is: “The Word Doctors is a powerhouse in the profession of message creation and image management. Thank you and have a nice day!”
I called The Word Doctors this morning to ask about their methodology. I was told only one person could comment and she wasn’t available. I left a voice-mail message. No word back yet.
My real question, however, isn’t for The Word Doctors or even Dr. Luntz himself. Who and what they are is pretty obvious.
I wonder about the MSM that continues reporting on Dr. Luntz’s Snake Oil as if it were a viable product, even as public mistrust of journalism plummets. Then again, following the old money trail does suggest some possible explanation. Luntz’s work on climate change was funded by News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News.
Mostly, however, I wonder about environmentalists who would listen to anything the discredited Luntz has to say. Perhaps the green movement is so desperate in the wake of Copenhagen that it has decided to take radical action: word doctor-assisted suicide.