Luntz and Penn student spar over secretly recorded footage
- action Yesterday, Mother Jones released secretly-recorded audio of GOP strategist Frank Luntz criticizing right-wing talk show hosts during a talk with College Republicans at the University of Pennsylvania. “They get great ratings, and they drive the message, and it’s really problematic. And this is not on the Democratic side. It’s only on the Republican side,” Luntz said.
- reaction "I’m very disappointed that at Penn, [the] trust between students and speaker is gone," said Luntz, an former student and professor at the school, after the release of the audio. ”Call me naive, but I thought it was possible to have an open, honest conversation about American politics and not make it a national conversation.”
- rebuttal "The Penn environment should be one in which people are encouraged and expected to speak unencumbered by self-interest," wrote Aakash Abbi, the student who recorded the speech. ”If influential GOP figures like Frank Luntz truly believe that the party’s media kingmakers harm the national interest but refuse to say so for fear of backlash, they knowingly work against the spirit of open and honest debate.”
There’s also a question of journalistic ethics. Luntz requested that the remarks remain off the record; while a journalist who was in the room verbally agreed to this request, Abbi (who isn’t a journalist) and Mother Jones (who wasn’t present) did not. So are they still bound by it? Does a request to remain off the record amount to a decree, or must it be agreed to? Regardless of where you stand, it’s a fuzzy area. Meanwhile, Luntz has withdrawn a scholarship in his father’s name since the remarks leaked.