Hey y’all…I’m back. Didya miss me? I missed you.

Some of my fellow black bloggers — including Pam’s House Blend, Republic of T, BronzeTrinity and African American Political Pundit — have been talking about the Tavis Smiley/PBS Debate on Thurs night at Howard University broadcast live in primetime on PBS, 9:00-10:30 pm EST Several black bloggers are credentialed to attend and blog the conference in person and that’s a great step forward. How would it look if we weren’t involved at every level? Through having both journalists of color (3 plus Tavis) along with recognized black bloggers, it immediately puts a question mark on the status of the digital divide. Stop feeling sorry for us and start working with us as progressives on the team. From TavisTalks.com:

American Blog to Host Commentary and Dialogue for Both Forums

For both the Democratic and Republican forums, American Blog, Inc. will capture questions and send them out via the Internet across its 50-state blog network. Citizens across the U.S. can log in to the state where they live and “enter the forum”—discussing and commenting on any of the candidates’ responses.

Here’s what else you might not know about the debate though. According to some of my favorite peeps over at Media Matters, “PBS has invited Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican pollster and strategist, to provide “immediate public feedback on the performances of the candidates” during post-forum coverage on the Tavis Smiley program.” Now why would they do something like that. Let’s not forget that PBS receives substantial government funding. So guess whose bread must be getting buttered if a clearly partisan slimer like this guy is measuring the feedback of a diverse Democratic audience? Here’s more on Luntz:

* A June 2004 memo by Luntz, “Communicating The Principles Of Prevention & Protection In The War On Terror,” urged Republicans to use concepts such as “It is better to fight the War on Terror on the streets of Baghdad than on the streets of New York or Washington” and “9/11 changed everything,” which have been staples of Republican rhetoric ever since.

* Luntz’s 2002 memo “The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America” coached Republicans on new ways to talk about global warming and warned the party that the environment “is probably the single issue on which Republicans in general — and President Bush in particular — are most vulnerable.”

* According to a January 29, 2007, article on The New Republic’s website, Luntz “not only helped write Republican House member Newt Gingrich’s Contract with America; he was also responsible for its presentation to the public.” He also “advised Republicans trying to impeach Bill Clinton.”

Ok, but even if we put aside Luntz’s disgusting political views and activities, let’s look at The Man’s ethical and professional record:

* In September 2004, MSNBC dropped Luntz from its planned coverage of that year’s presidential debate coverage, following a letter from Media Matters that outlined Luntz’s GOP ties and questionable polling methodology.

* Washington Post polling director Richard Morin reported that the National Council on Public Polls censured Luntz “for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups he conducted during the [2000] Republican Convention.”

* In 1997, the American Association for Public Opinion Research formally reprimanded Luntz for refusing to release documentation in support of comments he made to the media regarding his polling work on the Republican Party’s 1994 “Contract with America” campaign platform, according to a Salon.com article.

If MSNBC dropped Luntz, shouldn’t PBS take another look at this cat? Hey Tavis, it’s not too late to uproot this snake in the grass who’s been planted with the pure purpose of striking where you least suspected it.

If you’re so inclined, contact Tavis and PBS and let them know what you think about Luntz’s curious addition to the Democratic debate on Thursday.

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