The official pollster of Fox News, Frank Luntz, is the man who renamed the estate tax the “death tax” and told Republicans to lie and call healthcare reform a “government takeover” of the medical system. It turns out he’s also the guy who tested anti-Obama films, including one that features nude photos of President Obama’s mother and depicts her as a prostitute, for a shadowy GOP donor. Now DVDs of the scurrilous film, “Dreams from My Real Father,” are finding their way into mailboxes in swing states.
Luntz won’t say who commissioned his anti-Obama focus group, and he reportedly counseled his client to go with a milder anti-Obama film by conservative Stephen K. Bannon. That’s showing up on cable television stations in swing states soon. Another film screened was Dinesh D’Souza’s fantasy “Obama: 2016,” which Luntz said didn’t test well with voters.
But the lurid anti-Obama film is showing up mailboxes in Ohio and Florida. It purports that Obama’s real father is the leftist Frank Marshall Davis, and it claims to have found photos of Ann Dunham in bondage magazines. It’s the creation of Joel Gilbert, reports Jeremy Peters in the New York Times, a conservative who has claimed he found Elvis Presley alive in a witness protection program and that Paul McCartney is actually dead. Gilbert wouldn’t disclose the donors behind his film and its distribution though he claimed he was sending out four million copies. He taunted Peters for being part of a mainstream media that hasn’t adequately vetted Obama, saying “I hope you’re not angry or jealous that I beat you to it and might win the Pulitzer Prize.”
Luntz claimed his client had doubts about the political wisdom of backing the Gilbert film, and that their approach to Luntz’s work was “I want to know if it’s as bad as I think it is.” Still, the idea that the Fox News consultant is part of testing the most lurid anti-Obama messages in a season full of them is kind of appalling. But it shouldn’t be surprising.