Cavuto failed to challenge Willey's Morgan-Palladino "fantasy"

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

On the November 8 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto did not challenge the assertion by Kathleen Willey, author of Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton (World Ahead Publishing), that right-wing radio host Melanie Morgan "went right up to" private investigator Jack Palladino at a book fair "and said, 'Aren't you embarrassed and ashamed for what you did to Kathleen Willey?' And he looked right at her and said, 'The only thing that I'm ashamed of is that [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton (D-NY)] didn't pay us in a timely fashion.' " Willey added: "I believe her." But Cavuto did not note that Palladino has reportedly denied Morgan's account, telling the right-wing website WorldNetDaily that "[i]t's total fantasy," "a lie," and "absolute fiction."

On Page 210 of Target, Willey writes that she has "every reason to believe that Palladino was deeply involved" in the "scare tactics" she alleges the Clintons "used against" her. On pages 211-212 of Target, Willey provides the following account of Morgan's alleged meeting with Palladino:

Melanie Morgan met Palladino and his wife in Corte Madera, California, in 2003. Speaking to an audience of mystery writers at the annual Book Passage Mystery Writers Conference, the PI team described their investigative techniques, media exposure, and contributions to books and movies. Melanie, who was writing a cold-case murder mystery, also happens to be a journalist of thirty-plus years and co-host of a talk-radio show in San Francisco. At the time, though, Palladino just knew her as another mystery writer.

After they gave their talk, Palladino and Sutherland sat at a table signing books. Melanie approached, interested in hiring Palladino to help with her murder mystery. Looking for investigative tips and resources, Melanie struck up a conversation with him and Palladino gave her some leads and contact information. They had a fun repartee and she found him to be a nice guy, gregarious and outgoing. Melanie established a rapport with him and Palladino jumped up and paced while they talked. He seemed to enjoy the limelight, so she finessed a little more information out of him.

Melanie spoke out of earshot of most of the people around them. "Aren't you ashamed of yourself," she chided Palladino, "with the business you did for Hillary Clinton?"

Palladino looked up and "kind of gave me a lazy smile, and his wife, who is British, shot her husband a look," Melanie says. "Her eyes cut over to him and I could tell he was debating whether to answer me or not." So Melanie added, "You know, come on, that stuff with Kathleen Willey was pretty outrageous. What was that?" She smiled at him. "You guys ran over her cat? What was that all about?"

"Well, I'm not really going to comment about that but let me just say this," Palladino replied. "The only regret I had about the whole thing was that Hillary did not pay me in a timely fashion."

Then his wife chimed in. According to Melanie, Sutherland looked to be in her late fifties and she had a sharp tongue. "You could tell she was the boss of the operation," Melanie says. "She started making some nasty comments about Hillary Clinton, and the two of them were laughing and snorting over the fact that they had to bring a certain amount of pressure to bear."

"Yes," the radio commentator inquired artfully, "I've read that Hillary has a lot of problems about paying people to whom she owes money, including the ghostwriter for her book."

"Yes, we noticed that problem as well," they told her.

Keeping the rapport going, Melanie smiled at him and asked, "You didn't really kill her cat, did you?"

Palladino indicated his work was "more like Dumpster diving." But Melanie noted that "he smiled when he said it and looked at his wife, and alarm bells were going off, like 'Shut up!' "

"He definitely acknowledged that there was something that had transpired there with Kathleen Willey and her cat," Melanie said, "But my distinct impression was that they had to threaten to go public with it."

"I saved Hillary Clinton's ass," Palladino told her. You'd think she'd be more grateful to me."

An endnote to this passage reads:

73. Morgan, Interview with author.

But a November 7 WorldNetDaily article reported that Palladino "recalled speaking at the conference and said he might have met Morgan, but he emphatically denied having a conversation that bore any resemblance to her claims and suggested several times he could sue the KSFO talk host for libel." Further, in his interview with WorldNetDaily, Palladino "insist[ed] he worked for Bill Clinton's campaign, not for Hillary, and argu[ed] he had never even heard anyone suggest Hillary had a reputation for not paying people on time." Palladino also reportedly asserted that Morgan "is either high on something... or she is simply lying."

From the article, headlined "PI 'admits' Hillary paid him to harass Willey: Book recounts alleged admission by Jack Palladino, who now threatens to sue":

Kathleen Willey's new book publishes for the first time an alleged admission by private investigator Jack Palladino that he was hired by Hillary Clinton to investigate Willey and bore responsibility for acts of harassment and intimidation designed to silence her explosive testimony of sexual assault by President Clinton in the Oval Office.

In "Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton," released this week by World Ahead Publishing, WND Books' partner, Willey presents the claim by San Francisco talk-radio host Melanie Morgan, who recounts a private conversation she had with Palladino and his wife, Sandra Sutherland, at a conference in 2003.

Asked by WND to respond, the San Francisco-based Palladino recalled speaking at the conference and said he might have met Morgan, but he emphatically denied having a conversation that bore any resemblance to her claims and suggested several times he could sue the KSFO talk host for libel.

"It's total fantasy," he told WND. "No, that's too kind; it's a lie."

[...]

Palladino told WND he has no idea what Morgan is talking about, insisting he worked for Bill Clinton's campaign, not for Hillary, and arguing he had never even heard anyone suggest Hillary had a reputation for not paying people on time.

"The record is very clear," he said. "I was retained by the campaign committee. I was paid. You can look it up in the federal records. My bills were submitted, my payments are part of the public record. That's who retained me."

He laughed at the suggestion he worked for Hillary Clinton.

"Why would Hillary's name come up (in Willey's book)?" he asked rhetorically. "Because it's 2007, and that's the only thing that really brings (Willey) any news."

He repeated his charge that Morgan's account is "absolute fiction."

"The woman is either high on something -- she is from San Francisco ... -- or she is simply lying. Do you know what lying is? Lying is, 'I made it up to get famous.' Lying, OK."

From the November 7 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Well, he [Bill Clinton] can't become president again.

WILLEY: Well --

CAVUTO: His wife can. What makes you fear his wife becoming president?

WILLEY: She's worse than he is. She's --

CAVUTO: What do you mean by that?

WILLEY: She's -- she's behind the secret police. She's the one who sets up the war room when he goes out and he does what he does and he zeroes in on women. I talk about it in my book in more detail, about the private detectives, the private investigators that she hires, that she sees to go out and intimidate women.

CAVUTO: Yeah, I read that in great detail, and I was wondering, it almost seems too incredible to be true. And I mean this with the greatest respect, Kathleen. Is it just paranoia run amok? In other words, on your part, that maybe it's too incredible to believe.

WILLEY: No. It's not. I'm not paranoid. I know it happened to me. I know about the threats, I know --

CAVUTO: But how do you know she was behind trying to diminish you?

WILLEY: I -- because, well, there's a quote, in fact, in the book. Melanie Morgan, who is out in California, who's a well-respected, well-known talk-show host, met Jack Palladino. She had been outraged by what she saw in the Oval Office with me and all the other women and Monica Lewinsky, and she went up to him -- she met him at a book fair, and she went right up to him and said, "Aren't you embarrassed and ashamed what you did to Kathleen Willey?" And he looked right at her and he said, "The only thing that I'm ashamed of is that Hillary didn't pay us in a timely fashion." I believe her.

CAVUTO: You believe, then, that any time there was a female disruption, a bimbo disruption --

WILLEY: Yes.

CAVUTO: -- that's not putting you in that camp --

WILLEY: Thank you.

CAVUTO: -- that Hillary was there to clean it up?

WILLEY: Yes. That's her job.

CAVUTO: The reports in the media -- that's what she did. Would she do that as president? Covering up for him as first man, or whatever you call it?

WILLEY: She has done nothing but enable his behavior for years. This has been going on for well over 30 years. She was hiring people to keep an eye on him to watch him -- she brought -- she sent her own father and brother to Little Rock to keep an eye on him before they were married.

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