Previously, Jeff Zeleny’s biggest claim to fame was asking Barack Obama the hard-hitting question, “What has … enchanted you the most from serving in this office?” The question was so sycophantic that even Zeleny’s colleagues in the White House press corps laughed out loud when they heard it.  The New York Times has Zeleny covering Rick Santorum’s campaign three years later, and suddenly Zeleny’s a lot less concerned about what enchants politicians … and less concerned about quoting them accurately, too.  When Zeleny rewrote a statement from Santorum in a speech and then challenged him on it, Santorum got angry — and a little PG-13, too:

CBS This Morning had the exclusive video of Republican hopeful Rick Santorum‘s blowup at New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny. Zeleny asked the former Pennsylvania Senator if Romney was the worst Republican in the country, which set off Santorum.

“What speech did you listen to? Stop lying! I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obamacare. And that’s what I was talking about! […] Would you guys quit distorting what I’m saying? […] I’ve been saying that at every speech. Quit distorting my words, if I see it, it’s bullshit!” Santorum erupted. “Come on, man! What are you doing?”

“You sound upset about this,” Zeleny observed.

“I’m upset when the media distorts what is I say,” Santorum hit back. “Yeah, I am. I do get upset. ‘Cause you know exactly what I was saying and you’re misrepresenting it. […] What are you guys in the business of doing, reporting the truth or are you here to try to spin and make news? Stop it! You don’t care about the truth, do you? Asking that questions shows you don’t care at all about the truth.”

Zeleny insists that Santorum called Romney the worst Republican in the country, but so far, no one else has come forward to back that up.  Santorum has consistently said that Romney would be the worst Republican to run against Obama on the issue of ObamaCare.  He said that in the final January debate to great effect, and said it again in the final overall debate, which got lost in Santorum’s subpar performance.  One might think that had Santorum said what Zeleny claims, one of the reporters would have audio or video of it.

Santorum isn’t exactly apologizing for the outburst, either.  He appeared on Fox today and was asked about it by Gretchen Carlson, and responded that “a real Republican” candidate would have done exactly the same as he did:

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum cursed at New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny on Sunday while campaigning in Wisconsin, saying, “Quit distorting my words. It’s bulls—.”

Monday morning, the presidential candidate explained that he was just acting the way a Republican should.

“If you haven’t cursed out a New York Times reporter during the course of a campaign, you’re not really a real Republican, is the way I look at it,” Santorum told Fox News.

That’s how you know!

Seriously, though, what a great way to end the first half of the primary season for Santorum.  He got a big win in Louisiana on Saturday, and then an opportunity to pull a Newt Gingrich to fire up the base as the ten-day recess starts.  That won’t hurt Santorum at all as he aims at Wisconsin’s April 3rd primary, which may not be a must-win for Santorum but comes about as close as it can to one.  If Romney wins Wisconsin’s winner-take-all primary, it will leave Santorum with fewer paths to blocking a Romney majority in the delegate race.