Politics

Santorum hits the showers, but liberal bloggers are all wet

Santorum hits the showers, but liberal bloggers are all wet

A fascinating bit of liberal myth manufacturing comes to us from the Huffington Post, which already got busted last week for fabricating a story based around a phony “study” that claimed to prove McDonald’s restaurants could easily afford to double their wages.  That’s one way left-wing crap gets pumped into the media stream.  They just love fishy “studies” that lend an air of authenticity to their favored talking points.  The entire global-warming hoax was based on that strategy.

Another big way “news” gets mangled is by deliberately misquoting people the Left does not like.  (They’ll also happily tune up and “recontextualize” gaffes from people they do like, as we’ll see in a moment.)  Such was the case with 2012 Republican primary candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum, who said something perfectly reasonable (in fact, demonstrably factually accurate) but found his words twisted into an effort to make him sound borderline insane.  The false narrative cooked up over at the Huffington Post was “recontextualized” to the point that it had little to do with the actual topic Santorum was discussing.

The Huffington Post story was eventually graced with further corrections and explanations – unlike the vast majority of the liberal blogs that ran with it – but the good folks at Twitchy have preserved the original version in amber for us:

Next time you feel uncomfortable showering at the gym, blame it on liberals and their abortion rights agenda. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) does.

Speaking to anti-abortion group Students for Life after receiving an award last month, Santorum attempted to explain what he saw as an enthusiasm gap between liberal and conservative activists. During his speech, a clip of which can be seen above, via Right Wing Watch, Santorum argued that the pro-choice movement infuses passion about abortion rights into “every aspect of their life.” He said that because of this, showering at a gym had become an “uncomfortable” prospect for students.

Wow, that crazy Santorum guy sure has some unresolved shower issues, doesn’t he?  What’s he even babbling about?  Does he think pro-choicers surround naive young pro-lifers in the shower and hector them, like the scene at the beginning of “Carrie?”  What a loon!

Off the HuffPo crowd ran with this giddy little celebration of Santorum’s nuttiness, and we all know these things have a way of flowing into mainstream press organs from liberal blogs.  But along came Byron York of the Washington Examiner to spoil the party, by doing the five minutes of research the Huffington Post could not be bothered with… and linking to a news story about the very group Santorum was addressing, Students for Life, running into trouble with “pro-choice activists” at the Austin YMCA just last month.

Students for Life organized a bus tour, in which they “planned to rally during the day, shower at the Town Lake YMCA, and then head to a church to sleep.”  They cleared this plan with the YMCA, and conducted a polite and respectful demonstration – making a point of demonstrating in shifts, so as not to create a mob scene at the Capitol or overwhelm the Y’s facilities.  Everything went perfectly on the first day.  “You guys were great, you were respectful,” facility managers told Students for Life of America Director of External Relations Alexa Coombs.

But then the “pro-choice” crowd showed up and “intimidated” the YMCA staff into withdrawing use of the facilities from Students for Life.  Events unfolded precisely as Santorum described them, for exactly the reason he asserted.  This is what he said when addressing Students for Life:

You see what the Left does, what the pro-choice movement does is they just don’t focus on their little issue. They focus on everything they do in every aspect of their lives.  They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a young men’s Christian association, YMCA gym. Because they live it. They’re passionate. They’re willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company…

It’s quite obvious from even that brief snippet of speech that Santorum was referring to a very specific incident, not running through some kind of psychodrama about showers.  Try Googling the words “austin shower ymca.”  The first few hits you’ll get are lazy, dishonest liberal hacks running with the HuffPo’s original spin.  But then you’ll see the actual incident itself, reported by reputable news sources.  It’s not as if this was a difficult matter to research.  If liberals wanted to accurately review what Santorum was talking about and defend the decisions that led to Students for Life getting disinvited from the YMCA, that would be fair enough… but they don’t seem interested in doing that, do they?

For an example of how an actual gaffe from a liberal receives very different media treatment, look at President Obama’s embarrassing description of Charleston, Jacksonville, and Savannah as “Gulf coast ports” during his Jay Leno appearance.  Newsbusters transcribes the exchange:

LENO: You mentioned infrastructure. Why is that a partisan issue? I live in a town, the bridge is falling apart, it’s not safe. How does that become Republican or Democrat? How do you not just fix the bridge? (Laughter and applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t know. As you know, for the last three years, I’ve said, let’s work together. Let’s find a financing mechanism and let’s go ahead and fix our bridges, fix our roads, sewer systems, our ports. The Panama is being widened so that these big supertankers can come in. Now, that will be finished in 2015. If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else. And we’ll lose jobs. Businesses won’t locate here.

That was far from the only gaffe Obama made during the evening – it was a remarkably sloppy performance – but it caused jaws to drop from anyone who can read a map, not to mention people who live in the “ports all along the Gulf” that Obama mentioned, who were under the impression that the body of water visible from their beaches was called the “Atlantic Ocean.”

I suspect the President meant to say “ports all along the Southeastern coast,” “ports all along the Atlantic,” or something to that effect.  It’s a simple verbal slip.  The point he was trying to make is clear enough.  But of course, if he was a Republican, this gaffe would be cited as evidence of his stupidity, and the mainstream media would play along with lefty blogs in presenting it as such.  They might not insert the “Holy cow, this guy is an imbecile” editorializing in so many words, but they’d run the clip a lot, the guys and gals on the newsroom set would chuckle, and someone would deadpan, “Of course, as residents of these beautiful Atlantic coastal cities know, they are not located along the Gulf of Mexico.”

Instead, Newsbusters caught the Associated Press helpfully fixing Obama’s quote by inserting a few words, and presenting it as a reasonable call for “bipartisan cooperation in funding infrastructure improvements such as widening roads and repairing bridges.”  The doctored AP transcript looks like this:

“If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — (and in) places like Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or Jacksonville, Fla. — if we don’t do that, these ships are going to go someplace else and we’ll lose jobs,” Obama said.

Context is an elusive beast, isn’t it?  Funny how it so often slips away when quotes from Republican politicians are transcribed.

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