The New York Times today offers up the wide distribution of Joel Gilbert’s “Dreams From My Real Father” as a case study in “how secretive forces outside the presidential campaigns can sweep into battleground states days before the election.”
According to the Times, Republican strategist Frank Luntz, at the behest of unnamed conservative activists, focus-group tested Gilbert’s film this summer, along with Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016” and “The Hope and Change,” a Citizens United joint featuring interviews with disaffected Obama supporters.
“The Hope and the Change,” directed by Stephen K. Bannon and produced by Citizens United, the conservative political advocacy group, tested highest with focus groups and is running on local cable stations. It was shown here just before Monday’s debate.
Many conservatives also loved Mr. D’Souza’s film and wanted it to have wider distribution. It tested poorly, however, and Mr. Luntz warned his clients that it could undermine their cause.
Focus groups were revolted by “Dreams From My Real Father,” with its conspiracy theory paranoia and dubious evidence. It compares photos of the president and Mr. Davis, noting that they have similar noses and freckles. It also purports to have uncovered nude photos of Mr. Obama’s mother in a bondage magazine.
Mr. Luntz’s clients were not surprised. Their thinking was, “I want to know if it’s as bad as I think it is,” Mr. Luntz said.
The opinion of Luntz’s focus groups mirrors that of at least one Florida voter who got Gilbert’s movie in the mail and found it so disgusting he decided to vote for Obama.
Gilbert, for his part, remains convinced that he will come out with the upper hand, and perhaps beat out The New York Times for a Pulitzer:
Mr. Gilbert will not say where he received the money to distribute his movie — he claims to have sent out four million copies. “It’s a private company, so we don’t disclose who’s part of it,” he said. He also blamed the mainstream media for not looking deeper into the story he uncovered, telling The New York Times, “I hope you’re not angry or jealous that I beat you to it and might win the Pulitzer Prize.”