NY Times Magazine omitted key facts in profile of Santorum's Christian conservative views


In an 8,262-word New York Times Magazine profile of Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), contributing writer Michael Sokolove devoted considerable attention to Santorum's Christian conservative views, including his vehement opposition to abortion, but he failed to note that Santorum supported abortion rights before becoming one of Congress's most outspoken abortion rights opponents. In addition, though Sokolove did note in a parenthetical that Santorum attended a political fund-raiser during a visit to Florida to meet with Terri Schiavo's parents before Schiavo's death, he failed to mention that Santorum was criticized for attending the fund-raiser while skipping a forum on Social Security, purportedly out of respect for Schiavo's family.

While Sokolove stated that opposition to abortion is Santorum's "central issue," he failed to explore how Santorum, who has stated that he was pro-choice until he ran for Congress, came to this belief. Sokolove omitted any mention of Santorum's about-face on abortion, including Santorum's own statement: "I was basically pro-choice all my life, until I ran for Congress. But it had never been something I thought about" [Philadelphia Magazine, December 1995]. Instead, Sokolove noted that Santorum worked for pro-choice Republican state Sen. Doyle Corman for five years and quoted Corman's wife saying of Santorum's stance on abortion, ''One of the interesting things about Rick is, the whole time he worked for us, we didn't know what his views were on that issue.''

Later in the article, Sokolove noted that Santorum "not only pushed the Senate to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case, but he also traveled to Florida and prayed with her parents." But while Sokolove reported that Santorum also "attended fund-raisers for his Senate campaign while he was in Florida," he neglected to mention that Santorum did so while canceling a scheduled forum on Social Security in Tampa "in what his aides described as a gesture of respect for Schiavo's family" [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/30/05].

Sokolove also wrongly stated that "the late Gov. Robert Casey Sr. ... was barred from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of his antiabortion views." Though the media have repeated this falsehood numerous times (see here, here, here, here, here, and here), the truth is that convention organizers denied Casey a speech in 1992 because he refused to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket, not because of his views on abortion. Further, several speakers who opposed abortion rights did address the convention in 1992, and abortion rights opponents have spoken at every Democratic convention since then.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
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