Saturday's front-page New York Times story by Susan Saulny focused on the Santorum campaign in Louisiana before Santorum's easy win in the Republican primary there: "On the Right, Santorum Has Women's Vote."
Saulny emphasized the religious angle of Santorum's appeal. The condescending story provided slight corrective to the paper's misleading previous coverage assuming Santorum lacked support from women, but maintained the unsubstantiated idea, embraced by the Times, that moderate Republican women are turned off by appeals to social conservatism.
Rick Santorum was running late, and about 250 people were growing restless at a rally sponsored by the Tea Party. So the Harris sisters, a country singing duo, took the stage.
What happened next was more like a revival meeting than a political event.
The performers asked each other and the crowd what they liked best about the presidential candidate. Camille Harris, 20, exclaimed into the microphone, “Seven kids! Seven kids!” Turning her attention to Mr. Santorum’s youngest, Isabella, born with a genetic disorder, the singer added, “Didn’t abort the last one, which is amazing.”
Then several women in the crowd called out that Mr. Santorum was a Christian and a “man of faith,” and that he was “honest and honorable.” Bursting with enthusiasm, one woman said, “He’s for life!”
There is no mistaking the bond that Mr. Santorum has with conservative women -- particularly married women -- a group that has formed a core of his support since the primaries began in January. He has handily carried the votes of women in primaries that he has won, including those in Mississippi and Alabama. And where he has lost, in Arizona, South Carolina and Illinois, he has enjoyed a higher level of support among women than men.
The battles over access to contraception and other women’s health issues that have sprung to life on the Republican campaign trail in recent weeks have had the effect of disenchanting some moderate Republican women. But for conservative women, the opposite may be true.
The Times is repeating the baseless, wishful-thinking claim from a March 12 Times story that "centrist women" (who just happened to be holding Planned Parenthood signs at a protest rally) were fleeing the GOP in fear of the party's harsh anti-woman stands on abortion and contraception.
Another Times story from Louisiana on Sunday by Katharine Seelye and Trip Gabriel, "Santorum Gets a Boost With a Victory in Louisiana," called Louisiana a "deeply conservative state" in the lead paragraph.
That marks the fifth time the Times has used that singular phrase since 2007, according to a Nexis search. The phrase "deeply liberal state" did not come up a single time, despite the continuing existence of Massachusetts, California, and Oregon. Besides Louisiana, the states of Oklahoma, Kentucky, Wyoming, and Mississippi were also highlighted as "deeply conservative."