In his January 17 column for The Hill, headlined "Obama's First Blunder," Fox News analyst Dick Morris falsely attacked presumptive presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for voting against "a Senate reform banning the increasingly widespread practice of legislators hiring their family members on their campaign or PAC [political action committee] payrolls." As Media Matters for America noted, Obama actually voted against a motion to table, or kill, the amendment. In a January 17 entry on The Hill's Pundits Blog, Morris acknowledged that he had been wrong, retracted his allegations against Obama, and apologized to the senator for his "mistaken reading of the record." Nevertheless, several media outlets republished Morris' column or cited it as fact, including The Washington Times and the Statesman Journal of Salem, Oregon, which quoted and republished Morris' column on January 18 -- the day after Morris retracted the column.
In addition to the Times and the Journal, on January 17, Morris' column was cited or republished by:
- U.S. News & World Report's online "Political Bulletin"
- The conservative news website NewsMax.com
- Right-wing pundit David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com
- The right-wing website Human Events Online
- The conservative website Family Security Matters
As of this posting, The Hill has not published a correction, and though the column still appears on the paper's website, it is not listed among Morris' columns. As of this writing, none of the other media outlets listed above has acknowledged Morris' retraction, either.
In his January 18 Media Notes column, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz noted that "Morris was flat-out wrong" about Obama, and that Morris had made this false allegation on the January 16 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes. Kurtz quoted a spokesman for Obama saying: "Dick obviously took a ready-fire-aim approach when he wrote this column. Hopefully next time he'll check his facts before criticizing a politician for a position he didn't take."