Speed Reads

Things that make you go hmmm

GOP pollster Frank Luntz coached Cam Newton on how to talk about race

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton drew heavy criticism in August for telling his GQ interviewer that he didn't want his 2015 comment that he is "an African-American quarterback that may scare a lot of people" to be about race. "I don't want this to be about race, because it's not,” Newton said. "It's not. Like, we're beyond that. As a nation."

The comment infuriated many in the black community, who felt betrayed by Newton's words. "A black woman in Raleigh told me in July that her husband wouldn't allow their son to wear Newton's jersey anymore 'because he turned his back on his people,'" Sports Illustrated's Jonathan Jones writes.

Curiously, it turns out Newton's controversial post-racial way of speaking might have its roots with GOP pollster Frank Luntz, who has worked as a PR adviser with the Panthers in the past:

[Luntz] was called in (by whom is unclear) this off-season to help Newton frame discussions on race among other topics, according to people close to Newton. Luntz, who declined comment on this story through a spokeswoman, is often credited with prompting the phrase "climate change" rather than global warming and helping Newt Gingrich with his 1990s Contract With America. [Sports Illustrated]

Luntz is also notably a vocal critic of San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been kneeling during the National Anthem in protest of how minorities are treated in the United States. But when pressed last Wednesday ahead of Sunday's game against San Francisco, Newton declined to weigh in on anything social or political at all. "I'm so focused about the 49ers," he said. "Right now, my focus is on trying to get to 1–1."