Wow. That didn’t take long. I just found out via Pam that the Republican consultant PBS hired to do post-debate analysis after tonight’s presidential forum has been dropped. PBS initially defended the choice of Lutz (and Lutz alone, apparently) as the post-debate analyst.
“It’s just helpful to have someone who does this for a living explain to viewers what it means,” Kendall said. “I don’t understand why if someone has been a consultant for Republicans they’re incapable of conducting a focus group. If anyone has a concern about the objectivity of Friday night’s program, I invite them to tune in and see for themselves.”
The objectivity of the program wouldn’t be a concern if the choice of commentators had been more balanced in the first place. So there are still questions that need to be answered by PBS, as Media Matters pointed out.
While Media Matters for America is pleased with PBS’ announcement this morning that discredited Republican pollster Frank Luntz will not appear on its Thursday-night programming, PBS has yet to address the fundamental problem with its choice of Luntz to participate in analysis of the PBS forum.
Luntz’s Republican ties, his history of being criticized by his peers for misrepresenting polling data, and his past personal and professional affiliation with GOP presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani make him an inappropriate choice to provide the sole voice of expert analysis on Mr. Smiley’s program in the wake of a Democratic presidential primary forum. The fact that PBS has not acknowledged Luntz’s partisan affiliation — either in its original press release or in today’s statement — makes PBS’ use of him in this way all the more troubling.
Given PBS’ bent for telling “both sides of the story” on issues like the Iraq war and church/state separation, why they didn’t also choose a Democratic commentator to balance Luntz is somewhat mystifying. Only slightly more mystifying is their apparent surprise that anyone would have an objection in the first place.
Oh well, we’ll see how things go tonight.