Philadelphia Inquirer corrected online and print editions of Casey-Santorum article but didnt explain how correct quote shows Santorum is "quick on his feet"

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

On September 13, The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a print correction and appended a correction to the online version of an article that falsely attributed a recent comment by Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Bob Casey Jr. (D) to incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum (R). As Media Matters for America documented, a September 11 article by Inquirer staff writers Thomas Fitzgerald and Carrie Budoff -- offering purported evidence that Santorum is "quick on his feet" -- purported to quote Santorum asking Casey during a September 3 debate on NBC's Meet the Press: "I just gave you a plan [to fight terrorism]. Where's yours?" In fact, Casey spoke those words, in response to Santorum's assertion that "my opponent has no plan." The correction noted that the Inquirer "incorrectly attributed" Casey's quote to Santorum but gave no indication of whether the writers stand by their assessment expressed in the article of Santorum as "quick on his feet," given that he didn't say what they originally asserted -- in support of that assessment -- he had said.

From the correction:

In Monday's story on the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, a quotation was incorrectly attributed to Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.). It was Bob Casey Jr. -- not Santorum -- who said: "I just gave a plan. Where's yours?" Casey made his remarks during a debate Sept. 3. He was responding to Santorum's statement: "My opponent has no plan."

The original online version accurately quoted Santorum but provided no correction or indication that the original story misattributed the quote. The original print version of the article with the misattributed quote is still available without correction on the Nexis database.

Philadelphia Inquirer print story falsely attributed Casey quote to Santorum; online version switched quote, but didn't identify correction

In a September 11 article in The Philadelphia Inquirer, staff writers Thomas Fitzgerald and Carrie Budoff falsely attributed a recent comment by Pennsylvania Senate candidate Bob Casey Jr. (D) to incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum (R), erroneously citing the comment as evidence that Santorum is "quick on his feet." Fitzgerald and Budoff wrote that during a September 3 debate on NBC's Meet the Press, "Santorum turned from calm to aggressive." As evidence of Santorum's "quick[ness] on his feet," the article purported to quote Santorum asking Casey during the debate: "I just gave you a plan [to fight terrorism]. Where's yours?" In fact, Casey spoke those words, in response to Santorum's assertion that "my opponent has no plan."

The online version of the Inquirer article included the correct quote from Santorum, but provided no correction or indication that the original story misattributed the quote. The print edition of the Inquirer has also not yet issued a correction to the story, and the unaltered version with the misattributed quote and no correction remains in the Nexis database.

From Casey's exchange with Santorum, on the September 3 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:

CASEY: Well, I don't -- that's not the, that's not the, the objective here. The objective here is to make sure we're doing everything possible to give the American people the information they need and to protect our troops. And I think it's an abomination, Tim, when you have people like Rick Santorum, who have rubber-stamped this administration 98 percent of the time, did not call for or insist upon the best body armor when those troops needed it.

And I think when you point to the 9-11 question on Saddam Hussein, and you point to this crazy theory that there's still weapons of mass destruction, Tim, I think you've unearthed something. You've unearthed the 2 percent of the time that Rick Santorum disagrees with President Bush, and I think that's new information for this campaign.

Let me, let me just have a moment on, on Iran. Rick, you just talked about, and you've heard him a lot talking about Iran. You've heard him a lot talking about the terminology of, of the war on terror. He calls it Islamic fascism and, and he, and he talks about the terminology and changing the terms. What we need, Rick, is not a change in the terminology, we need to change the tactics. And we've got to make sure that even as you're debating whether or not we call Osama bin Laden a terrorist or a fascist, I don't think that really matters. We need a plan. You're in the Senate, you have votes, you should be leading that effort. And I, I think after it's over, after you get the terminology right, maybe you can have a seminar in Washington about whether bin Laden, whom we should be finding and killing, whether he's a dead terrorist or a dead fascist. And I think you should worry more about finding him and killing him.

SANTORUM: My, my opponent has, my opponent has, my opponent has no plan. The idea -- all he's suggested is his plan is Special --

CASEY: I just gave a plan. Where's yours?

SANTORUM: All you, all you suggested with your plan is more Special Forces.

CASEY: No, it's not. That's not, that's not all it is.

SANTORUM: Do you, do you support, do you support more intelligence-gathering because your party has been out there --

CASEY: Absolutely.

From the original September 11 Philadelphia Inquirer article:

Quick on his feet

Santorum's staff says he has never had a speech coach, and it is apparent that he's quick on his feet.

On the campaign trail, Santorum, like an actor, knows when to lower his voice or raise it. He can infuse a discussion of Medicare Part D benefits with drama.

But the debate reflected the inherent tension in Santorum's style -- restrained at times, glib at others. His approach can be unpredictable, lending in no small part to his deficit in the polls.

About 15 minutes into the debate, Santorum turned from calm to aggressive, prompted by what he saw as his opponent's vagueness on Iraq.

"I just gave a plan. Where's yours?" Santorum asked.

Casey presented several steps that he believes should be taken -- more "accountability" of the Bush administration, fire Rumsfeld, double the number of Special Forces -- but Santorum belittled them as Democratic talking points.

A few minutes later, Santorum took a risk, invoking Casey's father while explaining his opposition to making emergency contraception available without a prescription. Casey supports the increased availability.

"I think his father, if he were alive today, would be very upset," Santorum said.

Casey didn't respond to it, in what analysts called a missed opportunity to stand up to Santorum.

But in the end, many say, their style differences might not matter so much. Larger forces are at work this year, such as Bush's dismal approval ratings and Santorum's close association with him.

"He has to make the campaign a referendum on Santorum -- that's it," Democratic media consultant Neil Oxman said.

From the altered article posted on philly.com, the Inquirer's website:

Quick on his feet

Santorum's staff says he has never had a speech coach, and it is apparent that he's quick on his feet.

On the campaign trail, Santorum, like an actor, knows when to lower his voice or raise it. He can infuse a discussion of Medicare Part D benefits with drama.

But the debate reflected the inherent tension in Santorum's style -- restrained at times, glib at others. His approach can be unpredictable, lending in no small part to his deficit in the polls.

About 15 minutes into the debate, Santorum turned from calm to aggressive, prompted by what he saw as his opponent's vagueness on Iraq.

"My opponent has no plan," Santorum said.

Casey earlier presented several steps that he believes should be taken -- more "accountability" of the Bush administration, fire Rumsfeld, double the number of Special Forces -- but Santorum belittled them as Democratic talking points.

A few minutes later, Santorum took a risk, invoking Casey's father while explaining his opposition to making emergency contraception available without a prescription. Casey supports the increased availability.

"I think his father, if he were alive today, would be very upset," Santorum said.

Casey didn't respond to it, in what analysts called a missed opportunity to stand up to Santorum.

But in the end, many say, their style differences might not matter so much. Larger forces are at work this year, such as Bush's dismal approval ratings and Santorum's close association with him.

"He has to make the campaign a referendum on Santorum -- that's it," Democratic media consultant Neil Oxman said.

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