You hire Luntz not to merely poll, but to figure out how best to sell people on something. It seems reasonable to assume that team owner Daniel Snyder, who has vowed to never change the name, is working now on how best to convince people that his team’s name is not a repellent racial epithet. Luntz’s specialty is renaming things to sound more appealing, but in this case he’ll be crafting the best possible language to use when explaining why something shouldn’t be renamed. …
That Snyder is hiring Frank Luntz suggests a certain amount of concern that nationwide blasé acceptance of his team’s name may be coming to an end.
He certainly didn’t seem to take criticisms particularly seriously before — his team’s P.R. desk has usually just pointed to a couple of polls and dismissed critics as unimportant — but now he is writing letters to Congress and working out a P.R. strategy. That’s good. It means he’s losing. But it doesn’t mean he’ll lose. The team has successfully fought public pressure for decades, and the NFL has other high-priority P.R. nightmares distracting it from taking the controversy seriously. And soon we’ll begin hearing some much more convincing arguments in favor of the name, courtesy of Luntz and whatever other high-priced professional spinners Snyder hires.
Jonathan Mahler predicts the result:
We can expect his research to reveal that most Americans don’t think the name “Redskins” is especially offensive. (A recent ESPN poll has already concluded as much.) Then Luntz can write a strategy memo advising Snyder on the most effective way to deflect the controversy. Among other things, Snyder will surely want to avoid reminding the public of the history of the term “Redskins.” Football fans love tradition. But it’s hard to root for a team named after the bloody scalps of American Indians butchered by bounty hunters.
See the entire Dish thread here.