More Huffpo malfeasance: Byron York forces ‘update’ on Santorum gym shower comments

After last week’s embarrassing retraction of a poorly-sourced claim about McDonald’s wages, the Huffington Post again had to issue a major “update” to a story being picked up by liberal bloggers and Twitter users.

The Huffpo story purported to catch former Penn. Sen. Rick Santorum making supposedly embarrassing comments about showering at the gym:

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.

Santorum’s comments can be seen in this video at 5:38:

Here’s a transcript:

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…

Liberal bloggers, at least one MSM outlet, and at least one major gay publication seized on the quote to suggest that Santorum is a lunatic who has unresolved psychological issues related to young men and showers:

Thousands of Huffpo commenters ran with the meme. Here’s a tiny sampling:

This man has “issues”

I wish he would just come out already..

I thought the sweater vests were enough of a giveaway…

He’s weird and creepy, and psychologists, if they haven’t already, could have a field day with this guy.

Ricky, Ricky, Ricky…. I’ll bet you didn’t mean to let your fascination with gym showers enter that discussion. Creepyclosetqueen….

I am hoping that qualified mental health professionals might weigh in here to give us their take on such twisted, disconnected thinking. 

He needs to stop obsessing about sex and get some help already.

He’s certainly an exemplar of the psychological damage done by staying in the closet.

I think there may be a few mental hospitals around the country that are willing to talk to Rick. Even if it’s in the shower.

But as Byron York of the Washington Examiner noted, the Huffpo story failed to mention some key context:

Huffpo specifically cited Byron’s tweet in its “update,” which added this important information:

In July, members of anti-abortion group Students For Life, the group Santorum was addressing, complained that they had been bullied by pro-choice activists after using facilities at an Austin Y.

The group had come to the area to show support for anti-abortion legislation then being debated at the state Capitol, and had made last-minute arrangements to use showers at the gym. They did so one night, with the students entering the building in shifts wearing blue shirts, indicating support for the bill. After the first night went without incident, the Y contacted a director at Students For Life and asked them not to return.

According to the director of the anti-abortion group, YMCA staffers stated that abortion rights activists had intimidated them into making the decision:

“Said, again, ‘You guys were respectful. We have no problems with you, in particular, however there were some people that support abortion who talked to our staff, intimidated them.’ They actually said that they felt threatened, and they asked us not to come back,” [Students for Life director Alexa] Coombs said.

At least Huffpo ran an update to its story. As of 5:46 a.m. ET Thursday, others pushing the story (see e.g.,  here, herehere, here, and here) have not yet done so.

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