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The Philadelphia Inquirer Thinks This Merits a First-Page Story?! May 1, 2006

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.
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This article made the first page of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) has crossed the boundary separating mere politicians from pop-culture symbols.

America's favorite fictional mob boss, Tony Soprano, quotes him as a moral authority on homosexuality. On UPN's Veronica Mars, a character trying to blackmail gay high school students uses "Rick Santorum" as an alias.

And then there's the disgusting definition for "santorum," coined by a syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage, still spreading like kudzu on the Internet.

As these references illustrate, Santorum has evolved into a kind of cultural shorthand, analysts say: His name means "social conservatism." Throughout his political career, Santorum has waded into the most divisive issues in the culture wars – forcefully opposing gay rights, abortion, and coarseness in entertainment, along with what he sees as other threats to the American family. He wrote a book last year called It Takes a Family that challenges, among other things, two-income families and the "weird socialization" in public schools."

I follow PA political news closely, and I try to focus on the issues, voting records, and press releases. Yet it wouldn't have occurred to me to search for the words "santorum and anal" on Google. I suppose I should resign myself to the fact that I'd have to be a professional journalist to break a serious news story like that on the front page.

Was it a slow news day, or does the front-page placement of this story show media bias? It's reasonable to interpret the placement of the story as politically motivated. The inaccurate description of Santorum's book seems trivial in comparison to other comments in the article. Santorum was compared to Senator McCarthy, called "garbage wrapped in skin," and described as someone who "epitomizes intolerance and inspires contempt." These are quotes from Democratic activists, and I'll give the Inquirer credit for actually identifying them as such. However, the article includes several attacks on Santorum without balancing them with an equal number of remarks from Santorum supporters. Here's an example:

"There's sort of a smug, self-righteous smirk that he has," said Ray Murphy, who founded Philadelphians Against Santorum. "People want to punch him in the face."

Then again, a really cynical person could view this article as an example of conservative bias since it exposes the anti-Santorum activists as a violent and crude group.

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