Fox News outsmarted itself last Sunday. In its attempt to act as foil to the Ron Paul Revolution, a movement that is re-asserting the original ideals of the Republican Party, it slipped and showed its hand. Out of desperation, the Murdock-owned old media outlet exposed its penchant for manipulation.
About a month ago, in New Hampshire, Frank Luntz breathlessly informed Fox viewers that republican voters in New Hampshire were strongly opposed to the U.N. Of course, he didn’t also ask the voters in the focus group he had assembled if they had heard of Ron Paul or knew that part of his platform espouses a U.S. withdrawal from the U.N.
That’s Luntz’s stock in trade (F-bomb alert!): asking “the right questions” to get right answers. His expertise in manipulating poll respondents was used to great effect in 1994, when the Republicans wrote themselves into the history books. Devotees of Trotsky and John Dewey were given the keys to the House and Senate because they gave palatable answers to questions about fiscal responsibility, corruption and gun control; which was arguably the foremost issue in that election cycle due to the passage of the Brady bill and the assault weapons ban just prior to that election.
Luntz trotted out his dog and pony show with the promise that after the debate we’d all know who was going to win the primary. The responses and Luntz’s commentary were sold as impromptu. Watch the video, and you’ll see that the camera breaks to Luntz just prior to the debate’s start and Luntz responds as if he has just started discovering their feelings about the GOP candidates. The problem is, Luntz and his camera crew shot over 70 minutes of video to get just about 4 minutes of air time. While the segments aired might have been live, the preparation and Luntz’s manipulative and combative attitude directed the group in exactly the direction he wanted.
Though despicable, the effort was pretty slick. But you can’t control everything and the cat escaped the bag. The prominent Paul detractor in Luntz’s focus group, who was fooled into thinking that he was actually driving the show due to the quality of his own brilliant observations, gives us the scoop over at Free Republic, where he is a member. You know, the same Free Republic which gained its reputation by “freeping” polls, the very thing many of its membership complains about when Ron Paul supporters do it? Regrettably for Frank Luntz, this fellow doesn’t know when to shut up.
“Luntz was angry early on before camera’s went live when he polled the group to make sure everyone there was undecided. A 21 yr old guy raised his hand and said he was supporting Ron Paul. Luntz absolutely lost it on this kid and said “Why in the hell did you not put that on your questionnaire that was e-mailed to you? Why does it not shock me that a Ron Paul supporter would pull this kind of crap?”
“When he compared a moderate conservative to a major serious conservative he wanted a show of hands…then he added “When I say major serious conservative I mean you can hear the German Nazi marching bands and get excited” [sic]
With friends like Frank Luntz, who needs enemies? The poor, misguided chap in question believes he represents the Republican base. He took offense at Luntz’s question. His main concern (in all caps) is finding a candidate to represent the GOP who can combat the image of GOP politician as warmongering Nazi. Gee….who might help him out in this regard, a bunch of warmongering Nazis, or the one candidate running who truly isn’t either of those things?
The audience at the debate was uncharacteristically critical of Ron Paul’s views. We learned later that Ron Paul supporters were not the sort to be invited. This audience actually booed when Ron Paul spoke the inconvenient truth regarding a landslide-majority of Americans who want us out of Iraq. The studio audience was booing reality! The viewing audience was not so controlled. They gave Ron Paul the debate win with 34% of the text-message vote, double-digits higher then his next closest competitor. Fox doesn’t report the raw numbers as this would tend to discredit Sean Hannity’s insistence that the post-debate poll was being gamed.
And just what level of respect does Fox News show its viewers when its pundits reject their opinions out of hand? Why, the same level of respect it shows by manipulating people, namely, none at all.
What should this episode tell us? One, Fox News is doing its utmost to keep the warmongering Nazi image alive. While people believe that Fox News is merely a propaganda arm of the GOP, I don’t believe this at all. Murdock likes Clinton. She is neocon enough and at this point the GOP has over-played its hand. Its image is now a detriment. The writing on the wall is that Hillary wins in 2008, according to Frank Luntz anyway, so Fox News is hedging its bet by actively seeking to undermine her opposition and make sure that the one candidate who can beat her is not there when it would matter.
The second thing we can take away from this event is that Fox News is scared to death of Ron Paul. Not because he can beat the other Republicans but because he can beat Hillary. This fear isn’t limited to the neoconservatives over at Fox News. Elsewhere, neoconservative pundits are finally beginning to realize that Ron Paul is not the quixotic dark-horse of their alternate reality. If they’re not publicly noting that he’s formidable, the plagiarists amongst them are banning discussion about him. Yet they cannot change reality: the support is real, the money is real and as Dr. Paul pointed out after the debate, on issues, if not name recognition, he owns the election going all the way into November.
If you look at who Fox is trying to manipulate its viewers into supporting, you’re looking at the most ridiculous and least likely to beat the Democrat nominee. Of these four so-called front-runners, none are fiscally responsible enough to win the primary election much less the general election. And, none of them know the magic trick that is Hillary: Being pro-war while saying she isn’t.
One wonders what Fox News is going to try at the next debate.
Rick Fisk [send him mail] is a 45-year-old software developer and entrepreneur. He is married, has 3 children and resides in Austin, TX.