Charlie Neibergall / AP
Media coverage of the Iowa caucuses may have hit a new low -- or high, depending on your point of view -- when Fox News personality Alan Colmes on Monday was smacked down as “contemptible” after saying Republican candidate Rick Santorum was “crazy" for the way he dealt with his son’s death 16 years ago.
During a Fox News segment about Santorum’s sudden surge in popularity, Colmes, a liberal commentator on the cable network, said: "Once (voters) get a load of some of the crazy things he’s said and done, like taking his two-hour-old baby who died right after childbirth home and played with it for a couple of hours so his other children would know that the child was real…"
That’s as far as Colmes got on his first crack at his answer before guest Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, cut him off.
“That’s a cheap shot, Alan,” an incensed Lowry begins. “To say it’s ‘crazy,' something that’s that personal and harmful as losing a child, and to mock it, to mock him like that, is really beyond the pale and beneath you.”
Colmes chastises Lowry for interrupting him, then leans back in his chair and folds his arms in disgust at Lowry’s alleged, continued rudeness.
“I’m interrupting because what you’re saying is contemptible,” says Lowry. “They lost a child, Alan. That’s very serious, and it’s not something you should be mocking on national TV.”
Colmes, though, doubles down on his point:
“I’m not mocking the losing of the child, but what I’m saying is I think it shows a certain unusual attitude to take a two-hour baby home that died to play with his other children.”
But Lowry interrupts again, and again. And even when the show’s host attempts to change the subject, Colmes goes back to his point about Santorum’s deceased baby and Lowry renews his attacks on Colmes.
"Some of the dastardly characters we have in the mainstream media are not going to go as low as you just have, Alan, and make fun of that incident," Lowry says.
The seven-minute segment was one of the more fiery moments in the coverage of the Iowa caucuses, a subject that is dominant on Fox News, CNN and MSNBC.
Santorum has rather suddenly become a contender in Iowa so was getting far more attention Monday than he was even a few days ago.
Santorum and his wife, Karen, lost their son Gabriel when he was two hours old in 1996. In her book, "Letters to Gabriel: The True Story of Gabriel Michael Santorum," Karen writes that the couple introduced the dead infant to their other children as “your brother Gabriel,” and returned the body to the hospital the next morning.