Word Doctor Frank Luntz Defends Role of Focus Groups, Purpose of Listening Tours

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," May 5, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: We have Frank Luntz here. He is one of the guys — he's president of The Word Doctors and authors of "Words That Work" — which, Frank, I love, it's a great book, but you're part of the problem, man. You're going in there and you're doing these focus groups and then you're telling them all of our secrets.

How do we find anybody genuine?

FRANK LUNTZ, PRESIDENT, THE WORD DOCTORS: I don't know. It's funny, because I do the same thing for networks. I go in and tell them which people should occupy the 5 p.m. slot on the networks just like FOX.


BECK: You know what? But, Frank...

LUNTZ: So, Glenn, just maybe, you're where you are now because of people like me — just maybe.

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BECK: But you know what? You, I know this network did a focus group on me, that's fine, but don't bring me a focus group now. I could care less. The minute I stop being genuine is the minute I fail. That's why people watch.

LUNTZ: And you know what? And that's why you have to choose politicians you work for that have all those points. There's not anything that you wrote on the chalkboard — and by the way, I want to compliment you — brilliant penmanship. You must have been paying attention when you were in school.

BECK: Yes, it is.

LUNTZ: I could actually read it.

BECK: Yikes!

LUNTZ: But I'll give an example of a senator that I can bring out here (ph), Senator Jon Kyl. Do you really think that he acts based on focus groups or that he acts based on principle? On the House side, Paul Ryan. These are people who I know, Glenn, that you have respect for. The only thing that I'd ask of you, the only thing, is to differentiate, even if it's only 5 percent of the elected officials...

BECK: I agree with you.

LUNTZ: Differentiate them from the other 95 percent.

BECK: I agree with you. But you know what? I think, Frank, I — because I know good people on both sides of the aisle exist, but I am so close to just — how do you even find them anymore? How do you know?

See, I think this is the problem with the Republican Party that the media just doesn't understand. Republicans — people who are voting for Republicans or have in the past — are just done with a lot of them. They're just done. They're like — you know what they're all alike. I don't really care. I want a new pool of people to start from.

LUNTZ: But there is a difference, and I'm going to use Eric Cantor in this example. It's easy for you... you — I don't know if you're coming to the White House Correspondents' dinner. I do know that your network bought plenty of tables for it and that they're all going to be out in show, as every news network is going to be.

BECK: May I say something?

LUNTZ: The average American, Glenn — no, give me a shot here.

BECK: All right. Go ahead.

LUNTZ: You have eight minutes and 38 seconds, give me just 15.

BECK: You timed me here?

LUNTZ: The average American cannot go to one of these dinners. The average American can't see their congressman or senator. You are one of the great proponents, as was I, of these tea parties, but for the average American, a chance to actually sit down and give their member of Congress hell is a very precious thing.

Please don't undermine that.

BECK: Frank...

LUNTZ: It is too rare that these guys get a chance to get crap from their constituents. Let's encourage it. And that's exactly what Eric Cantor is doing.

BECK: I have no problem. You want to — you want to go and get a listening tour and get an earful, go for it. But what they're going to do is sit there — Hillary Clinton, did you think she really was listening to anybody? Do you think a lot of these clowns are even going to listen?

They're not going to listen. They're going to learn how to package, they're going to learn how to be reflective. They're going to learn like — hmm, yeah, maybe...

LUNTZ: Again, there's — I'm not going to disagree with you over 80 percent or 90 percent, but let's not throw in everyone. Let's not typecast. We would resent it if it were done based on race or religion or gender. Let's not do it just...


BECK: Or the American people in a focus group — the American people.

LUNTZ: But you and I agree. Glenn, you and I agree that the American people are outraged. But let's give them a chance to express that outage to the members of Congress.

BECK: Oh, yes. Frank, I am — I am with you on that. I just don't like the fact that everything turns into marketing. And, by the way, I am going to the — what do they call it — the correspondents' dinner with the president on Sunday.


BECK: There is no place — there is no place...

LUNTZ: Why don't you buy (ph) a table of 10 people — Glenn, because you can afford it, you're doing pretty well...

BECK: I was invited.

LUNTZ: Why don't you buy a table of 10 real Americans, buy a table.


BECK: You know what, Frank? If I can buy — Gresh, can I buy the tickets at this point?


BECK: I would love to do that.

LUNTZ: Yes, you can. You can. There are still a few tables left. I know this. You can do it.

BECK: No, if I can, I will, Frank. I will. This is the first time I've ever gone to it. There is nothing I want to go to less. I told my wife last night, I have to wear a tuxedo. I'm wearing these shoes to go there and sit there. And I'm going to wear...


LUNTZ: Hold on. If you think those shoes are good? I'm going to wear these shoes. I think these shoes beat your shoes.

BECK: Here is the thing: People want to go to that correspondents' dinner because they want to gawk and they want to see people. I don't really think that anybody wants to sit in a roomful of politicians and news people — including me — I don't think anybody wants to do it. They just want...

LUNTZ: But can we...

BECK: Go ahead.

LUNTZ: Can we agree on one thing — one thing?

BECK: Yes.

LUNTZ: Accountability. If you and I — I know that we agree on this
— that what we need to bring to Washington, D.C. is accountability.

BECK: Yes.

LUNTZ: Anything that forces them to in — your words...

BECK: Yes.

LUNTZ: "Say what they mean and mean what they say," that's going to be a home run.

BECK: You got it.

LUNTZ: So, we're really on the same side to this.

BECK: You got it. OK, Frank, thank you very much, we'll talk again. And, I guess I'll see you on Saturday.

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