Is the media trying for a little sleight of hand

You’ve probably seen the headlines saying that Alabama Rep. Bobby Wright “joked” that Pelosi might get sick and die before  he’s called upon to vote for her next year as the House leader.  I think that the “joke” is in exceptionally bad taste, but that’s not the issue.  What makes the little squiblet newsworthy is that Wright is a Democrat.

But what makes the whole thing really funny is the headline attached to the SF Chronicle’s reprinting of the AP story:

“Conservative Democrat jokes that Pelosi might die”

The actual news story, all three paragraphs, makes no reference whatsoever to the nature of Wright’s alleged conservatism.

I really wonder if the headline writers (whether at the Chron or at AP — I don’t know) are hoping that the average person who simply scans the news will carry away the belief that it was a conservative who made this joke, rather than a Democrat.  After all, as every lawyer knows, there are facts, and then there is spin.