Just look at that face. What does it tell you? When we at HUSTLER look at it, we see the kind of guy who was bullied in high school and a loner in college. No friends, male or female—especially not female. Actually, political consultant and Fox News commentator Frank Luntz looks gay. Not macho gay, more nebbish gay. It’s what we call the Karl Rove Syndrome: the need to pay back your former peers for all the shit you got while growing up.
Like Rove, Luntz has figured that one out. He’s intent on making life as miserable as possible for everyone in the 99%, and he can do it thanks to his gift for propaganda. Luntz is probably the Republican Party’s single most important strategist. That’s because he is a master at using language—or should we say perverting language?—to sway America’s voters. For example, he changed the term inheritance tax to death tax. Why? Because he recognized that the words death tax stirred resentment in people, unlike inheritance tax.
During a 2003 interview on the PBS program Frontline, Luntz declared, “Eighty percent of our life is emotion, and only 20% is intellect. I am much more interested in how you feel than how you think.” Of course he is. If people think about the issues, they’ll see that the Republicans are out to screw the average working-class American. The way around that is emotionally loaded words that obscure the truth. Can you say “Orwellian”? Luntz can.
In fact, Luntz actually redefined the word Orwellian, which traditionally describes pretty much the kind of thing that Luntz does: redefine reality, making what’s not real seem real. But Luntz, keying in on George Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language,” has cooked up a totally different meaning: “To be Orwellian is to speak with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening…and to do so without any pejorative whatsoever.” Can you say “evil”?
Yes, Luntz is evil. If he’s not, then the word evil has no meaning at all. Luntz is the guy who convinced the George W. Bush Administration to use the term global climate change instead of global warming because it sounded less alarming. This was, you understand, all part of the GOP’s strategy to convince people that the issue of global warming was still being debated among scientists even though Luntz, the strategist, knew “the scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed.” In other words: Fuck the planet and obstruct climate science. That’s evil, isn’t it? It’s certainly dishonest.
Dishonesty adheres to Frank Luntz like dog shit to a shoe. In 1996, his dubious methodology caught the attention of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), which asked to see some of his polling data. Citing client confidentiality, Luntz refused.
Here’s how Diane Colasanto, then AAPOR president, responded: “We understand the need for confidentiality, but once a pollster makes results public, the information needs to be public. People need to be able to evaluate whether it was sound research.”
The National Council on Public Polls censured Luntz “for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups” he’d conducted during the 2000 Republican National Convention. In September 2004, MSNBC dropped Luntz from its planned coverage of that year’s Presidential debate when Media Matters released a letter outlining Luntz’s GOP ties and questionable polling methodology.
More recently, Luntz was given the 2010 PolitiFact Lie of the Year award for convincing Republicans to use the term government takeover when referring to healthcare reform. (FYI: PolitiFact is a Pulitzer Prize-winning factchecking Web site.) Luntz knew that in the public’s mind, government takeovers are evil— something dictators do. By applying that pejorative term to Obamacare, Republican lawmakers were reasonably successful in avoiding a discussion about what the bill really sought to accomplish: health insurance for all. (The healthcare program wasn’t to be run by the government in any case; the insurance companies would retain control but be better regulated.)
In a memo to the GOP discussing Obama’s plan to create jobs, Luntz wrote: “It is tempting to counterattack using facts and figures. Resist the temptation. … The President’s language works because it speaks to a series of individual proposals that common sense suggests will lead to job creation.” In other words, deceive the public. Stay away from those pesky facts. Lie.
Today Luntz, through deception and lies, continues his efforts to help the GOP wield power in Washington. One of his main targets is the Occupy Wall Street movement, which he’s admitted has him “so scared” that he’s “frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think about capitalism.” So Luntz has coined some new terms with which to frame—or should we say obfuscate—the Republicans’ argument.
Here are some of the most glaring examples: Instead of government spending, Republicans refer to government waste. Instead of rich, they say job creator. Instead of Wall Street, they say Washington. This last switcheroo is very instructive. It’s actually Wall Street that controls our government, but Luntz and his fellow pro-Big Business right-wingers would have you believe the precise opposite is true.
So what more can we say about someone who makes his living by deceiving people? That Luntz is a pathetic excuse for a human being? Yes, without a doubt. That he is responsible for the corruption of our political process? He’s certainly one of the people responsible. That he’s a douchebag? Absolutely. Most of all, however, we see Frank Luntz as a man who has betrayed the very precepts of the democracy he lives in.
We see him as a traitor.