REPORT: Fox News' Dick Morris problem

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Fox News has a Dick Morris problem. He often engages in ethically dubious behavior, unabashed GOP advocacy, hypocrisy, outright fabrication of smears of progressives, failed political prognostication, extreme and inflammatory rhetoric, and repeated falsehoods.

"Those crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." -- Dick Morris, 3/31/09

Morris uses Fox News cred to shill for financial schemes

Over the past year, Morris has repeatedly used anti-Obama rhetoric and stoked fears about the economy on Fox News, in his latest book, and in videos for the right-wing website Newsmax. Newsmax has used those videos to the promote financial-services products it sells, which the website has pushed by playing on similar anti-Obama fears. Morris has been paid by Newsmax to use his email list to plug such products; he builds his email list through his website, which he often promotes on Fox News.

Newsmax's Aftershock promotion deal featured Morris' seal of approval. In January, Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy offered readers an offer which included a "free" (after spending $4.95 for "shipping and handling") copy of the book Aftershock: Protect Yourself and Profit in the Next Global Financial Meltdown and free trial subscriptions to three Newsmax financial newsletters, each of which must be individually canceled during their respective trial periods to avoid being charged a full year's subscription to them. According to the Ruddy's offer, readers who ordered the book were provided access to "an exclusive Internet broadcast I'm filming with Fox News analyst Dick Morris." In an email to his own email list, Morris urged readers to take the offer and "view this important internet broadcast." In April, Newsmax began offering the initial promotion in TV ads airing on Fox Business; their ad features Morris' endorsement of the book.

Morris appears in Aftershock webcast promoting Newsmax's "Money Matrix Insider." Morris appeared in Newsmax's February 25 webcast, during which he plugged Aftershock and attacked President Obama as promoting economic policies that would result in "more inflation." During the webcast, a caption identified Morris as a "Fox News Analyst & Commentator." The ultimate goal of the webcast was to promote what it called the "Money Matrix Insider" -- a method of investing in foreign currency exchange markets. Newsmax is charging $1,495 for the "Money Matrix Insider" package -- described as a $1,000 discount off the regular "membership price" -- which includes instructional DVDs, tips and alerts.

Morris endorsed Newsmax's "Money Dollar Secret Code." In a May 2009 email to his list that he acknowledged Newsmax paid him to send, Morris stated advised his readers to sign up for Newsmax's "A Call to Arms" webcast in which Morris would be participating in order to "protect your wealth and investments from the far-reaching hands of Barack Obama and the Democrats in Washington." The purpose of Newsmax's webcast was to plug its "Million Dollar Secret Code" package, which included a year's worth of stock tips from Ruddy's "chief financial adviser" and cost $1,295. During the webcast, Morris endorsed the product, stating that he was investing in it and suggested it was "a strategy" people could use to "keep yourself safe" from "the kind of offensive Obama is launching against the American economy."

Warning of Obama's "depressflation," Morris urges readers to buy newsletter that gives him a cut of each subscription. On March 16, 2009, Morris sent out an email with the subject line, "THE COMING 'DEPRESSFLATION'...AND YOUR MONEY." Recommending that his readers subscribe to the Global Stock Investor newsletter published by investment adviser Nicholas Vardy, Morris warned that the "inevitable result of the Democrats' plans to 'rescue' the economy" would be "massive inflation, even hyper-inflation, together with Depression-like economic stagnation." He added: "Full disclosure: I receive a percentage of each subscription sold, but even if I didn't, I'd want you to know about this amazing service. Nicholas' advice is rock solid. If you check into it, you'll thank me later."

Morris, Fox News hosts tout Morris' website, which he uses to boost email list. According to a Nexis transcript search, Morris' website, dickmorris.com, was referenced either by Morris or the host in at least 24 separate appearances on Fox News programs between January 1 and April 1. The first thing visitors see when visiting dickmorris.com is a page asking to join Morris' email list.

Morris uses Fox platform to stoke fear of economic woes. Newsmax's webcast isn't the first time Morris has warned that Obama's policies will prolong the recession and eventually lead to massive inflation and skyrocketing interest rates -- likely followed by another recession. He has repeatedly made these claims in his role as a Fox News analyst.

Morris' lengthy record of GOP activism, on-air and off

Morris regularly endorses and fundraises for Republican candidates; Morris has also used his Fox News employment to urge viewers to contribute to or help campaigns that advocate on behalf of Republican causes or against Democratic candidates or causes.

Morris urged viewers to donate to group he is affiliated with to fund anti-health care ads. Morris is the chief strategist and ad crafter for the conservative group League of American Voters (LAV), which opposed the Democrats' health care reform proposals. On Fox News, Morris implored viewers to donate for ads opposing health care reform at least 10 times just in February and March, often directing viewers to his website, which contained contribution links for the LAV. In a February 26 email to DickMorris.com subscribers, Morris wrote that LAV "raised $200,000 in the past three days" to run ads in the districts of "marginal Democrats who voted for healthcare last time." Morris also regularly solicited funds on Fox for 2009 LAV ad campaigns.

Morris asked Fox viewers to "give funds to GOPTrust.com" without noting his apparent financial ties to the organization. Between October 27, 2008, and November 17, 2008, Morris mentioned GOPTrust.com during at least 13 Fox News appearances and asked viewers to "give funds to GOPTrust.com," the website of the National Republican Trust PAC, without disclosing that the organization has paid $24,000 to a company apparently connected to Morris. Through publicly available records with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Media Matters for America found that GOPTrust.com paid Triangulation Strategies at least $24,000 from the beginning of October 2008 to November 24, 2008, mostly for "Email Communication." The "Mailing Address" for Triangulation Strategies is listed in one of the National Republican Trust PAC's FEC filings as "dickmorris.com."

Morris promotes lists of vulnerable Democratic members of Congress to target with LAV ads. In a February 23 blog post, Morris listed 31 "Vulnerable Democratic Congressmen" who are "swing congressmen on health care" and wrote that the "League of American voters has produced ads targeting these swing Congressmen and we urge you STRONGLY to CLICK HERE to send them money to help fund these ads." Morris promoted his list and website in numerous instances on Fox.

Morris urged viewers to "Please, please help" Brown. During the January 11 edition of Hannity, Morris joined Fox News' advocacy on behalf of Scott Brown, the Republican nominee in the special election for the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat, urging viewers to "go to DickMorris.com ... to help elect Brown," because if "we win this fight, then there will never be another victory for Obama." DickMorris.com includes a fundraising plea "to help us raise $300,000 for a last minute media buy to push Brown and the Republicans to victory."

Morris repeatedly implored viewers to call Congress to halt progressive legislation. During the health care debate, Morris frequently implored viewers to call Congress and tell them to oppose health care reform. In doing so, Morris routinely directed viewers to DickMorris.com, where a list of swing votes was posted. In February and March alone, Morris made at least 13 on-air appeals. Morris claimed his efforts deluged members of Congress and could help defeat the bill.

Morris frequently appears at GOP fundraisers. Since September 2008, Morris has appeared or is scheduled to appear at 10 fundraisers for Republican candidates or party organizations. Those candidates and organizations frequently promote their events by touting Morris' Fox News affiliation.

Morris' campaign activities, endorsements, and donations. According to The Boston Globe, Morris served as a consultant for Christy Mihos for Governor (MA); the campaign reportedly "brought Morris to Massachusetts for events and featured his involvement prominently on its website." The Globe reported that Mihos "paid Morris $20,000 a month for four months last year [2009], state campaign finance records show." On March 15 on Fox Business, Morris endorsed Rand Paul for U.S. Senate (KY). On March 29, during Hannity, Morris endorsed and campaigned for Edward Lynch for Congress (FL). On his website, Stephen Broden for Congress (TX) lists an endorsement from "Dick Morris, National Political Strategist, Fox News Contributor and author." Morris has donated $1,000 to Edward Lynch for Congress (FL) and $1,000 to Sam Caligiuri for Senate (CT).

Morris' history of fabricating smears of progressives

On Fox, Morris invents, retracts story that Clinton reappointed Reno so she wouldn't "turn on" him over Waco. On the April 19 edition of Hannity, Morris claimed that then-Attorney General Janet Reno threatened President Clinton in early 1997 by saying that if Clinton didn't re-appoint her as attorney general, she was "going to tell truth about Waco." Morris said that his story had "never been said before," and went on to say: "I know that he told me -- Clinton told me -- that I couldn't not appoint Reno because she would have turned on me over Waco. That's the phrase he used."

After Morris' accusation was covered across the right-wing media -- and Media Matters pointed out that his claims were dubious at best, and directly contradicted his account in his 2004 book -- Morris appeared on the April 21 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends and changed his story, saying that he needed to "distinguish the facts from my conjecture based on the facts" and that Clinton "didn't actually say that." Morris now claims Clinton told him "she asked me to reappoint her for at least a year, because if I didn't, people would think that I was blaming her for Waco," an assertion consistent with his 2004 statement.

Morris distorts Hillary Clinton quote to paint her as lying about daughter's location on 9-11. Morris repeatedly accused Hillary Clinton of having "completely fabricated her story" of where her daughter was during the September 11, 2001, attacks, falsely claiming that Clinton "says Chelsea was in danger on 9-11, jogging around the towers of the World Trade Center and was saved only 'cause she ducked into a coffee shop," which Morris portrayed as contradicting Chelsea Clinton's own account, in which Morris claimed she said "she was 40 blocks -- 60 blocks away and watched it on TV, 80 blocks away, was not in danger."

In fact, on the September 17, 2001, edition of Dateline NBC, Clinton said that her daughter had "gone, what she thought would be just a great jog. She was going to go down to Battery Park, she was going to go around the towers. She went to get a cup of coffee and -- and that's when the plane hit" (emphasis added). A November 9, 2001, UPI article about a piece Chelsea Clinton wrote in Talk magazine corroborates Hillary Clinton's statement that Chelsea did, in fact, leave her apartment to have coffee the morning of the attacks, and that she went downtown after she heard of the attacks and was close enough to hear the second tower collapse.

Morris makes up baseless conspiracy theory that Massa investigation is retaliation for voting against health care. Offering no evidence whatsoever, in a March 5 column, Morris claimed that then-Rep. Eric Massa faced an ethics investigation because of his "sin" of voting against health care reform, and that "Pelosi and the ethically-challenged House Ethics Committee are investigating him for 'verbally abusing' a male member of his staff." He continued:

In this age of more serious offenses, using "salty language" to express his displeasure with staff work would not seem to rank high on the list of indictable offenses. If it were, Lyndon Johnson would have been impeached. But Massa is being hung out to dry as an example to other would-be independent minded Democrats.

Massa resigned from the House on March 8. The same day, Massa offered allegations similar to those pushed by Morris, but later walked back his claims. In April, a former Massa aide filed a complaint with the congressional Office of Compliance alleging, according to the former aide's lawyer, that Massa "'subjected my client and other young gay men' to 'unwelcome touching, sexual propositions, groping, sexualized comments' and similar forms of harassment both inside his official congressional office and outside of it."

Morris suggests Obama "illegal[ly]" nominated Matheson "to a judgeship with an implicit quid pro quo." On the March 15 edition of Hannity, Morris claimed that "appointing Scott Matheson's brother to a judgeship with an implicit quid pro quo" is "illegal." Morris was apparently referring to University of Utah professor Scott Matheson's nomination for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; Matheson's brother Jim is a U.S. representative. Rep. Matheson's office and the White House both flatly denied the allegation that Scott Matheson's nomination was in any way intended to sway Jim Matheson to support health care reform legislation. A spokesman for Republican Sen. Robert Bennett (UT), and former Judge Michael McConnell -- an appointee of former President Bush -- who last occupied the seat to which Scott Matheson has been named, both definitevely debunked the smear, noting that Matheson's nomination "has been in the works for a long time." Rep. Matheson subsequently voted against the health care reform bills.

Morris contradicts self on whether Clinton "may well have been" a communist in early '70s. On the April 14, 2008, edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, discussing Hillary Clinton's 1971 internship with the California-based law firm Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein, Morris asserted that Clinton was a "law student defending the Black Panther Party, and then she worked in a communist law firm." Co-host Alan Colmes then asked Morris, "Well, does it make Hillary a communist?" After Morris again stated that Clinton "was a supporter of the Black Panthers," Colmes interjected, "Wait a second. Does that make her a communist?" Morris replied: "No, at that time, at that point in her life, she may well have been." But Morris previously wrote in his book Rewriting History (ReganBooks, 2004) that "Hillary was no Communist, nor should her work in the Treuhaft firm imply that she was."

Morris' comically off-track record of political prognostication

Morris 0 for 2 on 2008 presidential nominees: Clinton "virtually uncontested" among Dems, McCain won't "ever be nominated" by GOP. Morris is co-author of the 2005 book Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race. The epigraph of the book's first chapter is the presidential oath of office as it would be if given by now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The chapter's first sentence is "On January 20, 2009, at precisely noon, the world will witness the inauguration of the forty-fourth president of the United States. As the chief justice administers the oath of office on the flag-draped podium in front of the U.S. Capitol, the first woman president Hillary Rodham Clinton, will be sworn into office." Morris goes on to write that Clinton is "on a virtually uncontested trajectory to win the Democratic nomination" and has "no serious opposition in her party."

Morris also states that Clinton's "victory is not inevitable" because then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "alone could win the nomination, defeat Hillary, and derail a third Clinton nomination." According to Morris, two "seem fated to meet on the grand stage of presidential politics." Morris also writes: "Rudy Giuliani and John McCain? Either of them could probably win, but neither will ever be nominated by the Republican Party" [Pages 1-3].

Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama. Rice never declared her candidacy for the Republican nomination. McCain won the Republican nomination and lost the general election.

Morris: November GOP wins "A deathblow to Obamacare." In a November 4, 2009, New York Post column, Morris wrote that Republican victories in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections were "A deathblow to Obamacare." In March, Obama signed historic health reform legislation into law.

Morris repeatedly claimed Clinton would drop out due to Pirro challenge. In columns in The Hill and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and in appearances on Fox News in 2005, Morris repeatedly touted New York Republican Jeanine Pirro's 2006 Senate campaign against Clinton -- asserting, regarding Clinton running for a second Senate term, that, "the first thing I would tell Hillary, if I were advising Hillary, is you're crazy to run for the Senate"; that "[s]he might just take a pass"; and that if Pirro ran, Clinton might drop out of the race. Morris predicted that if Pirro proved to be the strong candidate that he expected her to be, Clinton would drop out. Pirro, however, trailing badly in polls, dropped out of the race on December 21, 2005. Clinton was re-elected over GOP candidate John Spencer by a 67-31 margin.

Night before 2000 election, Morris predicted Clinton loss. On the November 6, 2000, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Morris asserted about Clinton's first Senate campaign in 2000 against former New York Rep. Rick Lazio: "I think Lazio is, at this point, more likely to win it than Hillary, because, if Hillary is at 48 percent -- or even at 49 percent, or even at 50 percent -- a lot of her vote of minorities, a lot of her -- who have no real reason to vote in the presidential race." The next day, Lazio lost to Clinton by more than 12 percentage points.

Morris' incredibly off-base 2008 electoral map predictions. According to his final predicted electoral map, released on October 27, 2008, Morris labeled Arkansas "leaning Obama." McCain won Arkansas by 20 percentage points, and according to Pollster.com, Obama led in that state in only one poll throughout the entire race -- by two percentage points in a June 2008 Zogby Internet survey. Morris' final electoral map also had Louisiana and Tennessee as "tossup" states; McCain won each of these states by at least 15 percentage points.

Morris predicted Obama would be at 30 percent approval by March 2010. On the March 16, 2009, edition of Hannity, Morris said of Obama and his economic policies, "because of the innate crisis itself and of its exacerbation by what he's doing and because two years from now there's a tax increase coming and inflation coming and that's killing any positive of the stimulus plan, now he's all of the sudden saying things are great, and they're not, and I think that his credibility is going to be shot. This guy is going to be at 30 percent in a year." According to Pollster.com, Obama job approval ratings in polls conducted from March 9, 2010, to March 23, 2010, ranged from 44 percent to 50 percent.

Morris' inflammatory and extremist commentary

"Those crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." During a long conspiracy theory about a "super-national authority" that will oversee U.S. financial institutions, Morris asserted that because President Obama's policies are "internationalist ... [t]hose crazies in Montana who say, 'We're going to kill ATF agents because the U.N.'s going to take over' -- well, they're beginning to have a case." [Your World with Neil Cavuto, 3/31/09]

Health care "switch[ers]" are "traitors" that "sold out this country." Morris named House Democrats who switched their health care vote from no to yes and labeled them "traitors." Morris concluded, to applause, that "we are going to defeat them" in November. [Huckabee, 3/20/10]

Obama is "anti-American." Morris has cited that Obama's nuclear policy "might" make him "the first anti-American president we've ever had." [Fox & Friends, 4/13/10] Morris as also stated that Obama 's foreign policy "can only be described as anti-American." [The O'Reilly Factor, 4/22/09]

Morris: "If we don't take our country back in 2010, it's not going to be there for us to take back." Discussing why "we are in one of the more important election cycles ever in our lifetime," Morris has stated, "If we don't take our country back in 2010, it's not going to be there for us to take back." [Hannity, 1/4/10]

Obama awarded Nobel prize as part of "Europe's effort to colonize the United States." Morris claimed that the reason Obama was "delaying the decision to commit troops to Afghanistan is because he wanted" to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He added that the award "is part of Europe's effort to colonize the United States -- to reverse the effects of the American Revolution." [Hannity, 10/13/09]

"The way to get popular with this administration is to be an enemy of the United States." Morris has said Obama's foreign policy is "absolutely flipping things upside-down" because "If you're an enemy of America -- Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Hamas -- he's in bed with you." He added that "The way to get popular with this administration is to be an enemy of the United States." [Hannity, 4/23/09]

"Obama's plan is gonna kill you." After Bill O'Reilly said, "just treat me as a guy from Levittown... making $55,000 a year" and asked if Obama's plan is "gonna help me" buy insurance, Morris replied "No, Obama's plan is gonna kill you." [The O'Reilly Factor, 7/22/09]

Morris' falsehood-heavy commentary

Morris frequently and repetitively pushes falsehoods about progressive policy proposals. For example, Morris has repeatedly forwarded the myths that health care reform legislation contains a "death panel" or promotes "euthanasia"; that the legislation will increase premiums for the "average family"; and that the legislation punishes those who do not have health insurance with "jail."

Fox hosted former tax delinquent Morris to criticize Geithner's tax failure.

IRS tax lien against him did not prevent Morris from criticizing Geithner. In a January 2009 appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Morris repeatedly criticized Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner for his failure to pay Social Security taxes several years ago. But Morris has his own history of tax delinquency; the IRS reportedly filed a $1.5 million tax lien against him in 2003 and according to the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS), Morris owed the state $443,915 as of November 1, 2007, making him the state's sixth-biggest tax delinquent at that time. Morris is not cited by DRS on its list of "The Top 100 Delinquent Income Taxpayer Accounts" in Connecticut as of November 1, 2008.

In an April 2008 article on "[b]ig names" who are tax delinquents, USA Today reported:

Morris says he's reached an agreement with Connecticut and his name will be removed from the next delinquency list. He says he is committed to paying his taxes: "Following a difficult period in my life, I fell into arrears. But since then, I have paid almost $3 million in state and federal taxes."

Person
Dick Morris
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