How often is the substance of a report informed or clouded or steered by the headlines that precede it?

Today’s Washington Post may be a fine illustration of this question. Take a look at the four headlines written for a single article by Philip Rucker. A reader can get a very different sense of Mitt Romney and the presidential candidate’s response last night to recent comments about his Mormon faith made by an Evangelical Christian pastor of a megachurch in Dallas.

So, a bit of context with a compare and contrast of each headline in its context. The lede for Sunday’s print edition:

“Romney Pushes Aside Mormonism Question”

Washington Post Sunday

And on this morning’s home page of WaPo’s website:

“Romney Condemns Religious Bigotry But Doesn’t Talk About His Faith”

Washington Post Home Page Headline on Romney Response

The main page of the politics section reads:

“Romney Treats Issue of His Religion as Settled”

Washington Post Politics Section Headline on Romney Response

Finally, the headline that tops the actual article:

“Romney, His Mormonism a Campaign Issue Again, Condemns Religious Bigotry”

Washington Post Article Headline on Romney Response

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Whoa -- quite sobering. I wonder what John Stewart would say?

I have noticed this in news papers and what is said after a speech is given. Spin, distraction..sometimes lies!