Frank Luntz Goes Hollywood

Focus group guru Frank Luntz is giving up politics and moving to Hollywood.

“I’m tired of selling reality,” he said. “Reality sucks. It’s mean. Divisive. Negative. What Hollywood offers is a chance to create a new reality, in two hours time.”

Luntz, who successfully helped kill the estate tax by recommending Republicans persistently call the proposal a “death tax,” says he has changed with time.  “I’m not as partisan as I once was,” he said. “I don’t like what politics has become.”

He denied having been part of the problem, the culture of political vilification, a reaction to which was the heart of the movement that brought Barack Obama to power. He said that wasn’t him. “I did the ‘Contract With America,’” he said. “There was no mention of Bill Clinton in that document. And I don’t want to create a 30-second spot that makes people feel like s—.”

Some would say Luntz, famous for polls designed to give the answers his clients want, gave up “reality” a long time ago.  He’s been reprimanded and censured by two different national polling outfits and ultimately dropped from MSNBC’s political coverage for dubious practices.

That said, a lot of us are in Luntz’ camp in not liking how American politics has evolved over the past several years.  Did Luntz, with his focus-tested buzz words, contribute to the change?  Absolutely.  But a difference in degree can become a difference in kind.  It’s one thing to coin words like “death tax” and “climate change” to better frame your side’s position and quite another to use the same tactic to villify the opposition.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    ultimately dropped from MSNBC’s political coverage for dubious practices.

    Hehehehhehe. The mind boggles.
    The ultimate case of Pot to Kettle.

  2. That said, a lot of us are in Luntz’ camp in not liking how American politics has evolved over the past several years.

    As you know, I am sympathetic to this view and count myself in that camp. I wonder, however, as the degree to which it isn’t frustration with what politics has become as much as it is a realization of what it always was.

  3. Oh, and:

    Focus group guru Frank Luntz is giving up politics and moving to Hollywood.

    Oh, he wasn’t already?

  4. MstrB says:

    Quite the shift from his appearance on Penn & Teller’s Bullsh*t! (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wySaC_z12GY)

  5. PD Shaw says:

    I wonder, however, as the degree to which it isn’t frustration with what politics has become as much as it is a realization of what it always was.

    I think that’s part of it. I also wonder how much of it is the equivalent of “I’ve decided to spend more time with my family.” Criticizing politics on the way out the door has a degree of face-saving and self-promotion to it.

  6. An Interested Party says:

    While all this “going Hollywood” talk is cute, it might obscure the real reason that Luntz is moving on…namely, that this is yet another rat deserting a rapidly sinking ship…

  7. GP says:

    Or, maybe it is what it is. Maybe in a world where it is NOT about message anymore but all about flash, where teleprompters and styrofoam columns are replacing subtle language and concept, there is no purpose unless you’re a Styrofoam Czar or teleprompference sycophant. Who would stay? Whatta they say in The Graduate? “Plastics Ben– Plastics…”

  8. An Interested Party says:

    Maybe in a world where it is NOT about message anymore but all about flash, where teleprompters and styrofoam columns are replacing subtle language and concept…

    As opposed to “Shock and Awe” or “Mission Accomplished” or “Smoking Guns as Mushroom Clouds”…