Judicial Watch has mastered the art of getting the information the American people need to know. They generally go through legal channels, particularly the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that they send on a regular basis. Occasionally, they strike gold, and oftentimes that gold comes in a form that was not anticipated by those making the original FOIA request.
Case-in-point: Today’s release of information about Michigan’s responses throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal of the FOIA was to get the skinny on former Michigan Department of Health and Human Service Director Robert Gordon and his unceremonious removal, including a $155,506 severance package with strict confidentiality attached. There were multiple bombshells that came with the treasure trove of documents Judicial Watch received, and one of those bombshells caught our eye.
As it turns out, “conservative” pollster Frank Luntz was brought in to consult and to help Governor Gretchen Whitmer convince Republicans to social distance, wear face masks, and stay in lockdown mode until she deemed appropriate for the lesser people to come out of hiding.
From the article:
On December 1, 2020, Gordon forwarded to Whitmer’s chief of staff a PowerPoint summary on COVID political messaging, “Changing the COVID Conversation,” put together by pollster Frank Luntz working with a company called de Beaumont Foundation, based on a survey of 1,100 Americans. They “tested specific words, sentences, phrases, and attributes Americans need to hear to change their behavior and stop the spread of the coronavirus.” A significant part of the report analyzed Democrat-vs.-Republican responses. For example, one of several “warnings” Luntz emphasized, “Many Republicans refuse to follow guidelines because they argue the science keeps changing. It’s up to you to communicate – at the outset – that the science is settled.”
Much of the Luntz Report deals with wordsmithing. A table in the report categorizes words as “Words to Use” and “Words to Lose.” For example, use “protocols” and lose “orders & decrees;” use “social distancing” and lose “physical distancing.” Another Luntz recommendation is to “Call It the Pandemic,” based on his surveys that found the word “pandemic” is “more significant, serious, and scary” than the alternatives “COVID-19” and “The Coronavirus.”
The survey of 1,100 people, which included an “oversample of 300 African Americans,” found that there was a “chasm” between Republicans and Democrats on Covid, and “In every possible way, Democrats and Republicans think differently and act differently.” Luntz said they “tested specific words, sentences, phrases, and attributes Americans need to hear to change their behavior and stop the spread of the coronavirus.” When asked the survey question, “Which is more important to you regarding Covid-19?” survey respondents outranked “Health” to “Liberty” by 48% to 13%. Among African Americans, 54% responded “Health” and 6% said “Liberty.”
Based on his findings, Luntz had a series of “insights” he offered:
- Nothing scares GOPers more than an IRS audit‚ except testing positive for COVID.
- Despite vocal criticism from President Trump, President-elect Joe Biden was rewarded, not punished for “staying in his basement” for two months.
- There are only two trusted organizations and people – the CDC and Dr. Anthony Fauci. No one else is close. And don’t forget to utilize survivors of Covid as well. Congress also lacks credibility.
- If you want Republican buy-in, you must make the case that the science is settled and that everyone now agrees.
- “Say “Public,” Not “Government”
Controversy has been following Luntz for weeks. As Missy Crane at Wayne Dupree noted:
…the final nail has just been driven into Frank Dunce’s career, thanks to an employee whistleblower who just blew the lid off of Frank and called out everything he’s doing as a total “fraud.”
The story appeared in Salon – which is a left-leaning site, but don’t let that deter you – it’s being widely reported everywhere. Salon reported that Republican pollster and Kevin McCarthy’s friend-slash-roommate Frank Luntz isn’t afraid of boasting about his personal achievements. “Dr. Frank I. Luntz is one of the most honored communication professionals in America today,” reads a biography on his website. But some of his former employees tell a remarkably different story.
Chris Ingram, a former senior vice president at the Luntz Research Company who worked at the company from 1997 through the early 2000s, told Salon that Luntz’s claim to deliver objective data is a “total shtick and a scam.”
The takeaway is this: Frank Luntz was hired to engage in what can only be described as a “psy-op” against Republicans in Michigan. They were more reluctant to bend to Whitmer’s will, so Luntz came in to help with the bending.