Rush Limbaugh was right yesterday when he suggested that “If I were you, I would regard every AP (Associated Press) story, particularly this year, as nothing more than a propaganda piece for the reelection of Barack Obama.” Rush fan Matt Drudge, who currently has a deliberately misleading AP report linked at the top of his Drudge Report, would do well to heed Rush’s suggestion.
The AP story by Will Weissert concerns what GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum said yesterday about Mitt Romney. What Santorum actually said was that “If they’re going to be a little different (Romney compared to President Barack Obama), we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.” Notice that the statement is conditional, and that if Romney can demonstrate that he is more than “a little different,” Santorum’s concern is no longer valid. That’s not what Weissert’s headline or copy portray (HT to a NewsBusters emailer; bold is mine):
Santorum: Might As Well Have Obama Over Romney
Presidential candidate Rick Santorum on Thursday said Republicans should give President Barack Obama another term if Santorum isn’t the GOP nominee and for a second day compared rival Mitt Romney to an Etch A Sketch toy.
Santorum reiterated an argument he has made before: The former Massachusetts governor is not conservative enough to offer voters a clear choice in the fall election and that only he can provide that contrast.
“You win by giving people a choice,” Santorum said during a campaign stop in Texas. “You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there.”
Santorum added: “If they’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk of what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate for the future.”
Santorum was referencing Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom’s comment Wednesday that “everything changes” for the fall campaign. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch,” he said on CNN. “You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”
The remark reignited criticism of Romney as the type of politician who will say or do anything to win.
Will Weissert and the AP’s headline writer disgracefully used the their headline and first two paragraphs to stuff words into Rick Santorum’s mouth that he never said, before getting to what he actually said in the fourth paragraph. Santorum never said anything remotely resembling “Republicans should give President Barack Obama another term if I’m not the nominee” — and Weissert and his employer know it.
Sadly, the propaganda effort is well on its way to working. After all these years of watching AP, Matt Drudge should know better than to reflexively believe AP headlines and copy, and so should a lot of other center-right bloggers who are jumping all over Santorum, who made a clearly conditional statement which has become quite reasonable in light of what Eric “Etch A Sketch” Fehrnstrom said.
Will Weissert and AP dishonestly turned Santorum’s comment into something which portrays him as an over-the-top campaigner, which he isn’t, and the GOP candidates in general as bitterly feuding and immature. Sadly, Drudge and others bit.
You know who this helps? Hint: It’s not Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. AP can add another item to its “Mission Accomplished” list.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.