The Latest in Iowa: Santorum attacks Fox News, blames media for low polling

 BOONE, IOWA (MEDIA GENERAL) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum fired off several shots at a gun range Saturday morning before putting the media and Fox News in his crosshairs.

Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, managed to squeeze out a victory in the 2012 Iowa Republican Caucus, beating out Mitt Romney by 34 votes. He’s not seeing the same momentum this time around. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed his support in Iowa this year at zero percent.

He does not blame his opponents for his low numbers. Instead, he places responsibility on media outlets, and more specifically on Fox News.

“They don’t want to talk real issues. The main terrorist organization in the world targeting a presidential candidate and Bill O’Reilly says that’s not news — but if Megyn Kelly gets called a bimbo, that’s news,” Santorum said, referring to a tweet about the Fox News anchor posted by fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. “That tells you exactly the state of the news coverage we’re getting in this race.” 

Bill O’Reilly, who hosts The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, was quick to respond to Santorum’s allegations.

“Honestly, we looked for a reason to put the senator on, but we couldn’t find any,” Bill O’Reilly said to his television audience Friday night. “We’re not in the campaigning business here. We don’t put politicians on the air simply to spout their slogans.”

Santorum, however, does see himself as newsworthy because he was included on an ‘enemies list’ by Islamic State militants last spring. He sees this as prime example of how the media is picking candidates and focusing on Trump.

“We cover the news and when a politician is in the news, they get on the program,” O’Reilly said. “His poll numbers are very low. His campaign strategy is what it was four years ago. There is simply nothing new.”

“Don’t pretend that you’re being fair. Don’t pretend that you’re doing any kind of real public service. You’re an entertainment network that wants to get ratings,” Santorum said.

Santorum also complained he got more media attention from standing on stage with Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee on Thursday night than he did from taking part in debates.

“Look, I tip my hat to Donald Trump. He’s mastered this,” Santorum said. “How can I criticize Donald Trump for playing the game that the media’s put out there for him to play?”

The Iowa caucuses will take place on Monday, Feb. 1.

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