'Conservative' Christian Labeling Overdose in Iowa

Reporting from the campaign trail in Iowa on Tuesday as the state caucuses approach, Susan Saulny overdid the Christian 'conservative' labels: 'Iowa Evangelicals Split Over Caucus Endorsement.'

Bob Vander Plaats, president of the Family Leader, a conservative advocacy group popular with evangelical Christians here, has been saying supportive things recently about Newt Gingrich, suggesting that social conservatives are open to looking past his extramarital affairs and two divorces as they make a choice in the Republican presidential race.

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His indecision highlights the searing divisions among conservative Christian voters in Iowa, where matters of faith and personal morality are driving intense and sometimes emotional debates among evangelicals about principle and electability. The landscape could not be more different from 2008, when evangelicals propelled Mike Huckabee, a former pastor, to victory after he used his connections in the state's churches and home-schooling community to drive people to show up at the caucuses.

At stake this time is whether Mr. Gingrich, despite a past that some conservative Christians say should disqualify him, can benefit from the aversion of many evangelical leaders to Mitt Romney, whose Mormon faith and history of having once supported abortion rights has left many on the religious right wary - or whether the support of evangelicals will be dispersed, undercutting their influence and giving the rest of the field a clearer shot at a strong showing.

In all, Saulny made seven references to conservatives in the article. That's not quite up to David Kirkpatrick level 'conservative' labeling overkill, but its in the neighborhood. By contrast, Times stories on Democrats are often virtually absent of "liberal" labels.

On October 19, Saulny suggested G.O.P. presidential contender Herman Cain employed old anti-black stereotypes, using as evidence rants from Cain-hating leftists Cornel West and Harry Belafonte, even letting a hostile professor accuse Cain of using 'a certain kind of minstrelsy to play to white audiences.'