Mike Huckabee’s approach to winning the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 has been … perplexing.

He has taken to running as a culturally conservative candidate, but has defined cultural conservatism as that which stands in opposition to modern popular entertainment. Given his near myopic focus, Huckabee seems to have determined that the artist Beyoncé Knowles is the embodiment of all that is wrong with popular media.

In the weeks that have elapsed since he left his Fox News program to investigate the prospect of mounting a new presidential bid, Huckabee has spent most of his time alternately criticizing Knowles’s artistry and fashion sense and walking those criticisms back. It has not been an inspiring sight.

Huckabee’s curmudgeonly campaign theme is likely designed to invite liberal scorn and, concurrently, sympathy from conservatives. That does not give the coastal media license to simply invent embarrassing Huckabee quotes out of whole cloth. You’d think that would go without saying, but apparently it has not.

Politico readers awoke on Wednesday morning to this provocative headline:

… click.

But after clicking through to the article authored by reporter Adam Lerner, the reader was disappointed to learn that Huckabee said no such thing.

“In the South, or in the Midwest, there in Iowa, you would not have people who would just throw the F-bomb or use gratuitous profanity in a professional setting,” Huckabee told host Jan Mickelson in a Friday appearance on Des Moines’ “Mickelson in the Morning.”

“In New York, not only do the men do it, but the women,” he said.

“My gosh, this is worse than locker-room talk,” Huckabee continued. “As we would say in the South, that’s just trashy.”

Really, that’s it. No mention of Fox News at all, nor did he even dwell on the distinctions between men and women using profanity. He said that using profane words in a professional setting was generally obscene no matter who does it. Well, specifically “trashy.” In fact, the use of that word is just about the only accurate element of Politico’s headline.

So what led Politico to get this one so wrong? The article contains a clue: “Liberal media outlets have mocked Huckabee’s remarks — and not for the first time.”

So, in the rush to achieve self-validation by appealing to liberal prejudices, Politico just made up a salacious situation in which a likely presidential candidate slandered his former colleagues. By doing this, Politico has actually generated some sympathy among conservatives who are otherwise hostile to the former Arkansas governor’s campaign that is premised on litigating cultural grievances.

Maybe there is something to Huckabee’s strategy, after all.