Upon hearing that MSNBC planned for Republican pollster Frank Luntz to conduct on-air focus groups as part of the cable network's debate coverage tonight, David Brock of the media watchdog group Media Matters sent MSNBC executive Rick Kaplan a letter of complaint. It looks like Kaplan listened.
Media Matters links to this Roll Call article today showing Luntz got canned. It's sub only, so here's the text:
By Mary Ann Akers
Roll Call Staff
September 30, 2004
The watchdog organization Media Matters for America was none too pleased that MSNBC had scheduled GOP pollster Frank Luntz conduct on-air focus groups following tonight's presidential debate.
In a letter to MSNBC President Richard Kaplan, Media Matters President David Brock (who used to call himself a conservative), said he hoped the network would disclose Luntz's "partisan Republican ties and history of questionable scientific methodology."
Brock cited a number of examples, including Luntz's work on the 1994 Republican "Contract with America," pointing out that Luntz was reprimanded by the American Association for Public Opinion Research for refusing to disclose data on how he surmised that 60 percent of Americans supported the Contract. Brock also noted Luntz's published remarks counseling swing-state Republicans on what to say about Iraq and homeland security.
Looks like the letter had an impact. Although MSNBC did not respond to Brock, a spokeswoman for the network told HOH late Wednesday that the network has decided "not to go with Frank for the debate." In fact, MSNBC won't conduct polling at all now, she said. Brock was delighted to hear the news. "It is encouraging that MSNBC responded to criticism in a constructive way. Clearly they realized that employing a partisan pollster does not reflect well on them as a responsible media outlet."