Last Thursday, on her new show "Tell Me More," NPR talk show Michel Martin held another one of those non-debates on whether the Republican front-runners should have submitted to the debate organized by leftist PBS host Tavis Smiley. She invited both former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Gingrich pollster Frank Luntz to come on and denounce the GOP no-shows for political stupidity and moral cowardice. Luntz insisted "Tavis Smiley is an incredible host, and he is completely fair." But while Martin pointed out that Smiley had prevailed on Steele to help cajole Republicans to attend for several months, she failed to tell listeners that Luntz was hired by Smiley to do polls after the PBS Democratic candidates debate in June. This is not a little-known fact. Liberal Democrat groups like Media Matters had a fit that Smiley hired a Republican pollster for a Democratic debate, and (unsuccessfully) demanded PBS fix it.
In refusing to interview anyone who felt that PBS and Tavis "George Bush is a serial killer" Smiley were offering a hostile forum for Republicans, Martin merely said the RNC failed to send a spokesman – as if there aren’t many conservatives outside the RNC building on Capitol Hill who would accept that opportunity. That's a lazy way to avoid having a contentious debate, instead of a double-beating.
Frank Luntz, in fact, sounded like he was reading from Tavis Smiley’s talking points as he denounced the Republican Party, accusing Washington of doing nothing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
It's bad enough that you miss debates, when they missed Katrina, and the African-American community watched day after day as Washington didn't come down, didn't deliver, and there are issues on Louisiana and in the city of New Orleans, but they were still looking for Washington for help, that sent such a horrific message to the black community that the Republican Party doesn't care. And the debates are symbolic, but at least in the debates, you can stand up and say that what happened back then was wrong and that under my administration, I would change it....considering what has happened over the last four years, I would have expected these candidates to rush down there and to talk about how they would have been different in a situation like New Orleans.