Republican pollster Frank Luntz got an earful of criticism from CNN's John Roberts on Sunday's Reliable Sources. The CNN host took the political consultant to task over a memo he wrote to Republicans, urging them to use what Roberts described as "charged language" to scuttle health reform efforts.
Discussing what Luntz sees as an unprecedented level of anger among the American electorate, Roberts asked: "You wrote a memo to the Republican Party, giving them suggestions on how to oppose the health care plan, suggested that they use phrases like 'it's a bailout of the insurance industry,' 'Washington takeover of the system.' All of these words were out there. So my question is, did you help contribute to that anger?"
"But what is the first page of that memo?" Luntz responded. "That you must support health care reform. That's exactly what Americans would say. We need to cover those people who aren't covered."
"But when you use charged language like that, are you not contributing to that anger?" Roberts asked.
"What Americans are asking for is a slow and steady reform of the health care system, not something radical, and the politicians in Washington aren't listening," Luntz said.
Luntz was on CNN promoting his new book, What Americans Really Want ... Really, in which he cites research showing 72 percent of Americans "are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore."
Luntz' research has come in for criticism in the past. In 1997, he was reprimanded by the American Association for Public Opinion Research over his polling in the 1994 mid-term elections, which saw the Republicans gain control of Congress.
According to Salon.com, "Luntz told the media that everything in the [GOP's Contract with America] had the support of at least 60 percent of the general public. Considering the elementary phrasing of that document (stop violent criminals, protect our kids, strong national defense), it seems almost laughably uncontroversial. But one of AAPOR's 1,400 members wasn't so amused, and filed a complaint requesting to see Luntz's research and a verification of the figure.
"Luntz's response? He couldn't reveal the information because of client confidentiality."
This video is from CNN's Reliable Sources, broadcast Sept. 27, 2009.