On September 17, The Drudge Report home page featured a September 16 Associated Press photo of a 3-year-old girl, Sophia Parlock, holding a ripped Bush-Cheney '04 sign and crying as she sits on her father's shoulders. Drudge captioned the photo: "GIRL CRIES AFTER BUSH/CHENEY SIGN RIPPED BY THUGS...". Later that day, The Washington Times published an interview with the Parlock family, whom the paper described as "proudly patriotic."
As The Washington Times reported on September 17:
"They just pounced on us," said Phil Parlock, who took his 11-year-old son, Alex, and 3-year-old daughter, Sophia, to the Democratic rally at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W.Va.
Sophia became briefly famous yesterday when an Associated Press photo showing her in tears after Democrats tore her sign to pieces was posted on Matt Drudge's Web site, www.drudgereport.com.
"She was crying; they were pushing and shoving her," said Mr. Parlock, a Huntington real estate agent. "She was scared."
Both The Washington Times and Drudge failed to mention that this is the third time the Parlock family has been involved in so-called assaults involving campaign signs.
The Huntington man said he was knocked to the ground by a Clinton supporter when he tried to display a sign that read "Remember Vince Foster," the deputy White House counsel who committed suicide in a Washington, D.C., park. His death has become the subject of much debate among Clinton opponents.
"It must have been a strict Democrat who did this," Parlock said, feeling the red abrasions on his face. "Everyone with the exception of him was real peaceful about our protest." [Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, August 27, 1996]
In 2000, Parlock found himself in yet another confrontation with Democrats at a campaign event:
Phil Parlock didn't expect to need all 12 of the Bush-Cheney signs he and his son Louis smuggled in their socks and pockets into the rally for Vice President Al Gore.
But each time they raised a sign, someone would grab it out of their hands, the two Huntington residents said. And sometimes it got physical.
"I expected some people to take our signs," said Louis, 12. "But I did not expect people to practically attack us." [Charleston (WV) Daily Mail, October 28, 2000]
The photo of Sophia Parlock was taken by Randy Snyder. Apparently, Snyder is not an Associated Press photographer; he is listed as "chief photographer" on the masthead of The Herald-Dispatch, which bills itself as "the online news authority for Huntington, West Virginia, Southern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky."
The Parlock family has been featured numerous times in the Herald-Dispatch, including in a July 5 article about an Independence Day rally attended by President George W. Bush. The July 5 article also featured photographs by the same Randy Snyder.
On September 17, Parlock was interviewed by nationally syndicated Clear Channel radio host Glenn Beck. Regarding the Parlock family's attendance at a brief appearance by Senator John Edwards in Huntington, W.Va., at which the photo of Sophia Parlock was taken, her father recounted:
PARLOCK: The painter's union guys took a couple signs off of us. ... Um, some women and old ladies did it too. I mean, but you can see, clearly in that picture, he has a piece of the sign in his hand and he is dropping it onto the ground.
Minutes after his interview, Beck apparently received information about Parlock's past encounters, saying that "the blogs are going crazy." Following is an excerpt from Beck's second interview of Phil Parlock:
BECK: So you've done this -- and you admit to this -- you've done this ...
PARLOCK: But there's a certain consistency there, and you just read it. We are consistently quiet and peaceful ...
PARLOCK: Glenn, look, I work on -- I, I, I said this before, I shouldn't tell my secrets, but -- I work on a subliminal level; I don't go after the press. The press is easy. Working on people to change their minds is harder.
PARLOCK: I'm not a troublemaker. We -- we've -- we have gone to rallies -- my family and I -- we stand there quietly, and we're viewed as a threat, for standing there quietly.