Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Republican message maven Frank Luntz.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP
You wouldn't necessarily expect a Republican messaging strategist to give NPR talking points to defend itself against the House Republican effort to defund the public radio network.
But that's exactly what Frank Luntz, the Republican message expert who planted the term "death tax" deep into the American psyche, did on NPR member station WAMU's Diane Rehm Show Wednesday. Along with Anita Dunn, President Obama's former communications director, he engaged in a fascinating discussion on how to frame political issues.
Diane, whose show is distributed nationally by NPR, asked both Dunn and Luntz how they reacted to the Republican framing "that public broadcasting represents totally liberal thinking, public broadcasting should not be funded by government money. Public broadcasting does not present all sides."
Dunn gave an argument you'd expect from a Democrat, that public broadcasting is worthy of some tax-payer funding. A legitimate debate could be had, however, on whether it should receive public funding, she said.
Then Luntz laid out how he would approach the matter.
"There are five different types of people for you to reach out to. Rejecters, Disagreeables, Neutrals, Accepters and Embracers. Each one of those terms means something. You need to forget the Rejecters because there's nothing you can do to influence them.
"The truth is the Disagreeables won't help you. Your job, the most important role for someone who supports public broadcasting is to take the Embracers and energize them to speak up and do something and move the Accepters to become Embracers. And in terms of the best possible language, it is possible to communicate across politics and across ideology.
"Number one, you provide listeners with content that they can't get any other place. Number two, you take emails, you take Twitter, you take phone calls. That means there's a greater degree of interactivity which is what listeners want. Number three, is that there's a geographic component. We believe that whether you live in the most rural area of Georgia or the most urban area of New York City you should have the right to quality programming. And number four, if not this, where? Ending with that question. If not us, who? If we lose NPR, where are you going to get this kind of content? Those four steps and that targeting delivers you greater support if that's what you are trying to do."