The chief disinformation operative of the Republican party is leading a propaganda campaign against national health care reform. He is Frank Luntz.
He has crafted a 28-page talking points memo for Conservatives, called "The Language of Health Care 2009," to trumpet the dishonest accusation of a "Washington takeover of healthcare." It is cynical, distorted, fear mongering self-interest at its worst.
Luntz advises opponents of universal health care to make the debate about "politicians," "bureaucrats," and "Washington," and to highlight "horror stories" about "government takeover." He tells them to play on the fear the public has of "denied treatment."
Luntz writes, "The best approach is to empathize with the fear, anxiety and financial pain people are clearly feeling right now. So instead of dismissing their concerns, acknowledge them – up front – and then pivot to your solution. Some conservatives will undoubtedly find this distasteful. But failure to connect on a personal level at the beginning will lead to communication failure at the end."
Later he writes, "It is essential that “deny” and “denial” enter the conservative lexicon immediately because it is at the core of what scares Americans most about a government takeover of healthcare. Then add to it the source of that denial and you have the perfect anti-government, anti-Washington and anti-Democratic message."
So, you will hear this mantra repeated from Republican after Republican:
“No Washington bureaucrat or healthcare lobbyist should stand between your family and your doctor. The Democrats want to put Washington politicians in charge of YOUR healthcare. We can and must do better. Say no to a Washington takeover of healthcare and say yes to personalized patient-centered care.”
Of course, "personalized patient-centered care" is code for health insurance company control. That is the powerful industry Luntz and his cohorts are trying to protect.
Luntz and his associates are the premier manipulators of language for selfish, partisan ends.
Read one of his mission statements from their web site (emphasis is mine):
"Our focus is on language. We believe that every word you use matters. Luntz, Maslansky is known across the nation for how we reframe issues. From changing the “estate tax” to the “death tax,” “tax cuts” to “tax relief,” “global warming” to “climate change” – time after time we have succeeded in changing the course of the debate. By focusing on how to communicate your message, Luntz, Maslansky helps you reframe the issue using your side’s words and messages. Our unique research methodology allows us to precisely gauge public opinion and develop the most effective approach and language to take control of the issue. We know how to change hearts and minds and motivate people to act."
from Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research website
Their goal is to help "virtually every major industry" to distort their message and mask their true agenda. Another quote from their web site:
"In the political arena, our CEO, Dr. Frank Luntz, is known for helping change the public vocabulary – he transformed the "estate tax" into the "the death tax," moved the public debate from "school vouchers" to "opportunity scholarships," and re-cast "drilling for oil" as "exploring for energy." ... In the corporate arena, Luntz, Maslansky currently works for clients in virtually every major industry: pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, energy, health care, transportation, sports, entertainment, travel and tourism, shopping centers, grocery stores, restaurants, food, and beverages."
If Frank Luntz is involved in a public campaign, you may assume the goal is to "pull the wool over your eyes."
And, so then, is his mission in the health care debate.
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