If it’s Frank Luntz calling, don’t answer your phone

Let’s say you’re sitting at home making dinner, or eating dinner, and the telephone rings, as it usually does at this time. And if you’re a former marketing researcher, like me, you feel you have to answer calls identified as coming from a polling firm. Okay, so this call is coming from someplace called “Luntz Research Companies.”

You answer, and agree to participate in their “research.”

They tell you they’re going to talk about “America’s financial crisis,” and ask you several questions about who’s to blame, like regular people “who took out loans they could not afford,” or Washington, or Wall Street, or CEOs. So far so good, although the regular people may have been a little negatively characterized. But yeah, they couldn’t afford the loans.

Then you get asked about who’s better at regulating financial services: the federal government, state governments, or “Neither. The Government will always do a bad job regulating.”

Uh, wait a minute, are those my only choices?

With the next question, you’re starting to get a little more suspicious about this so-called poll: “Would you be more or less likely to vote for your member of Congress if they voted for a Financial Reform Bill that contained a fund to bail out banks and Wall Street?”

Well, maybe less likely, but who said the bill contained a bank bailout fund?

And now it becomes quite evident that this is what they call a push poll: based on the false information they’re feeding you, you respond negatively, and your negative reaction is used to prove that the “majority of Americans” are against whatever it is they’ve lied about.

Here’s the proof. If you were given these choices about the supposed Financial Reform Bill, would you be for it?

(Sorry if you have to squint to read it; but if you really care you can see it better here.)

This is horrifying. And guess who’s behind the Luntz “Research Companies.” A charlatan named Frank Luntz, who wrote a book called Words that Work; who gave us the evocative description of the estate tax as the “death tax”; who told Republicans, based on the manipulative push poll above, that all they had to do was tell us the Financial Reform Bill contained a bank bailout fund and we’d hate it. At least the Democrats got smart this time, and called a lie a lie.

You may have heard that the Republicans are coming up with another “Contract with America” to try to take the House back next November. And who’s advising them? Frank Luntz, the same guy who did the same thing in 1994.

He’d make Lee Atwater proud.

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