Fox & Friends hosted “word doctor” Frank Luntz -- who has instructed conservatives to use the term “government option” rather than “public option” because it doesn't poll as well -- to criticize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's “rebranding” of the public option as the “consumer option.” Co-host Gretchen Carlson also continued Fox News' trend of using language echoing that approved by Luntz by asking if the public option should be called a “government takeover of health care.”
Luntz uses Fox News platform to rebrand public option, criticize Pelosi for her own rebranding
On Fox & Friends, Luntz explains why “people out there who are watching right now” should call it the government option. During the October 28 edition of Fox & Friends, Luntz responded to Carlson's question about Pelosi's “rebranding” of the public option, arguing that Pelosi is trying to “change” the term because the public option is “losing support on a daily basis”:
CARLSON: Let's talk a little about the wordsmiths and how this sort of rebranding effort has been going on for the last couple of months. Now we have Nancy Pelosi not wanting to call it the public option. Shouldn't what we really call it is a government takeover of health care? Is that why she now wants to call it the consumer option, to kind of shield that?
LUNTZ: Well, look, a lemon is a lemon; you can call it an orange or an apple. And I have a simple question for people out there who are watching right now, what you should call it. Who created it, the public or the government? Who determines the details of what's in this plan, the public or the government? Who is promoting this plan, the public or the government? Now she's realized the so-called public option that she wants to call it is losing support on a daily basis, and so she's trying to change the language behind it. The problem is that the American people really don't want Washington running their health care. They really don't want Washington making the decision that should be made by doctors and hospitals. And so she's trapped in this ideological crusade that an increasing number of Americans are opposing.
Luntz previously told Hannity to use term “government option” because “the public is overwhelmingly against” that phrasing. On the August 18 edition of Hannity, Luntz explained to Hannity that “If you call it a public option, the American people are split,” but “if you call it the government option, the public is overwhelmingly against it.” Hannity replied that “from now on, I'm going to call it the government option.”
Carlson echoes Luntz, asks if public option should be called “government takeover of health care”
Carlson asks if public option shouldn't be called a “government takeover of health care.” After airing a clip of Pelosi referring to the public option as the “consumer option,” Carlson asked, “So will this change the public perception of a government takeover of health care, or is it just hot air?” She later said to Luntz: “Now we have Nancy Pelosi not wanting to call it the public option. Shouldn't what we really call it is a government takeover of health care?”
Pollster Luntz suggested health reform opponents use term “government takeover.” In a memo titled “The Language of Healthcare 2009,” Luntz asserted: “You'll notice we recommend the phrase 'government takeover' rather than 'government run' or 'government controlled' It's because too many politician say 'we don't want a government run healthcare system like Canada or Great Britain' without explaining those consequences. There is a better approach. 'In countries with government run healthcare, politicians make YOUR healthcare decisions. THEY decide if you'll get the procedure you need, or if you are disqualified because the treatment is too expensive or because you are too old. We can't have that in America.' ” [Rule Five in Luntz's "THE 10 RULES FOR STOPPING THE 'WASHINGTON TAKEOVER' OF HEALTHCARE"]
Fox & Friends' Doocy previously used “government takeover” language to attack wording of poll on public option. After noting that an ABC/Washington Post poll asked, “Would you support or oppose having the government create a new health insurance plan to compete with private health insurance plans?” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy stated: “On its face you think, 'That sounds pretty good.' So you can understand why it would be more positive than negative.” Carlson then responded: “As opposed to just saying, 'Do you like the government-run option?' That would be more straightforward.” Doocy replied: “Right. Or, 'Do you -- are you in favor of the government taking over the health care situation in this nation?' ” [Fox News' Fox & Friends, 10/21/09]
Fox News has repeatedly aired on-screen text using Luntz-approved term “govt option”
In the same broadcast, Fox & Friends featured on-screen text using the term “govt option.” As Media Matters documented, the October 28 broadcast of Fox & Friends also ran a chyron reading, “Snowe Upset by Reid's Govt Option Push.”
Fox News' Live Desk has repeatedly aired on-screen text using the term “govt option.” From the October 27 edition of The Live Desk:
From the October 26 edition of The Live Desk: