After spending the weeks before the election sending emails imploring his readers to send him money to run TV ads he described as critical to defeating President Obama, Dick Morris used his most recent column to say that such ads have no impact.
The Fox News political analyst and columnist for The Hill is having a rough month. In the wake of an election in which several conservative pundits -- conspiracy theorists, wishful thinkers, and heavily invested political players alike -- have come out looking foolish for their predictions of a major Romney win, Morris stands alongside Karl Rove as the figure bearing the most ridicule and criticism.
Perhaps in response to this criticism, Morris penned an election postmortem this weekend, wherein he laid out why "The Campaign Made No Difference." According to Morris, the extended, expensive campaign in swing states was basically a wash.
But for weeks before the election, Morris' public pronouncements of an impending Romney victory were tied to a steady barrage of fundraising emails from his political action committee, Super PAC for America. Those pre-election emails explained that the TV ads that Super PAC for America was running had made a difference in swinging the race in Romney's favor.
Now, a week out from the election, Morris explains that political ads are ineffective and people just fast forward through them anyway:
The months and months of campaigning, the hundreds of millions of TV advertising, the incessant travel schedules of the candidates, and the vigorous efforts of both sides to get their vote out made little or no difference in the outcome of the Election of 2012.
1. Television is losing its impact. Particularly in the presidential race, it is astonishing that the almost one billion dollars spent advertising in eight states did very little to move the vote share. Voters are not watching television as much these days and those that are still turning it on are fast forwarding through the ads. And negative campaign ads -- in fact, all ads, -- are losing their impact.
To sum up, Morris now says that nobody watches political ads, they don't move swing voters, and negative ads are losing their impact. Let's compare Morris' discussion of the ineffectiveness of political advertising with some of the fundraising emails sent by Super PAC for America in the weeks leading up the election.
After President Obama's re-election, conservative media figures attacked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his praise of the president's leadership following Hurricane Sandy. Their attacks followed News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch's pre-election statement that Christie would be to blame if Obama won the election.
From the November 7 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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From the November 7 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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In response to President Obama's re-election, conservative media have declared that the president does not have a mandate to pursue his policies and said Republicans have a mandate to obstruct them. In Obama's first term, Republicans engaged in historic levels of obstruction against Obama's agenda.
During this election cycle, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris repeatedly made outlandish and bizarre electoral predictions at odds with polling data and common sense. His predictions were "so far out on the limb" that Bill O'Reilly told him if Barack Obama wins the election, Morris would be "through." Morris' long track record of terrible prognostication shows that his many strikeouts this cycle aren't an aberration but a steady flow of failure.
Media Matters looks back at 12 of Morris' many predictions that didn't come true.
From the November 7 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News political analyst Dick Morris, who repeatedly predicted a "landslide" victory for Mitt Romney, is officially "through" according to the standard set by Bill O'Reilly earlier this year.
During a May appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly told Morris that he was "so far out on the limb" for a Romney win, that if Obama was re-elected, Morris would be"through" and would be "selling refrigerators in Topeka."
Major media outlets, including Fox News, are now projecting that Obama will win re-election.
In February, Morris appeared on Hannity and declared that there was "no chance that Obama will get re-elected." When Hannity disagreed, Morris said "zilch, zone, zip nada," prompting Hannity to tell Morris that he would hold the analyst to his prediction.
Fox News political analyst Dick Morris, whose Super PAC for America has recently been flooding inboxes with countless fundraising appeals, changed venues for his solicitations this afternoon by participating in a "critical election teleconference" hosted by NewsMax.com.
The discussion, access to which cost listeners $4.95 in order to "cover the expense ...to set up your private line," was billed as an opportunity to give NewsMax subscribers "the latest campaign information, how you can still impact the race, and how you can prepare for what is about to happen on Nov. 6." In reality, the call was little more than an elaborate plug for Morris' super PAC, couched in a meandering and often self-contradictory conversation about the state of the presidential race.
Joining Morris for the discussion were his Super PAC for America cohort Michael Reagan along with, for reasons that weren't made clear, the "very famous" author Robert Wiedemer. Morris, who has recently been predicting a "landslide" for Mitt Romney, sounded notably less confident, cautioning that he did not "want to pretend that everything is perfect, because I'm very concerned today." Citing the November 2 Rasmussen daily tracking poll showing a tied race, Morris expressed concern that Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy has helped him in the polls, a conclusion that directly contradicts the fundraising pitch Morris made right before the hurricane struck, in which he predicted voters "will see right through" Obama's attempt to "look presidential" in the face of the storm.
However, despite warning at the call's outset that he is "very concerned today," when the conversation shifted to electoral predictions, Morris was once again bullish about Romney's chances. He predicted Romney wins in nearly every swing state, except for Nevada and New Mexico, "if you consider that a swing state."
Asked what people can do to help Romney heading into the final weekend, Morris shifted seamlessly into soliciting donations to Super PAC for America. "We're sitting here in the trench firing mortars, folks, and we need shells. ... Right now if you contribute today, in this phone call, we will put that money directly into Monday night advertising in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and make a big difference " After being informed that people could not donate over the phone because the call was a "news briefing," Morris and Reagan both repeatedly directed listeners to SuperPacforAmerica.com so they could empty their wallets.
Morris particularly wanted money to help in Pennsylvania, where he said he is currently campaigning and where his Super PAC had effectively executed a "flanking maneuver." In Morris' view, "we're in better shape in Pennsylvania than we are in Ohio" thanks in part to Hurricane Sandy possibly depressing Democratic voters in the state's eastern half.
To sum up Morris' pitch: the race is close and also not close, and there are danger signs but Romney is also going to win almost every swing state. But to be extra sure, you should give money to Super PAC for America.
In recent weeks, Morris has repeatedly twisted news events into reasons to donate to his Super PAC for America. In addition to his cynical pitch tied to Hurricane Sandy earlier this week, Morris blatantly flip-flopped on who he considered the winner of the vice presidential debate in order to ask for money.
From the October 31 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Hurricane Sandy is due to make landfall in the next few hours and is predicted to cause billions of dollars in damage to the East Coast. The storm is already responsible for widespread damage and nearly 70 deaths in Caribbean countries. While both presidential campaigns have asked their supporters to donate to the American Red Cross and other relief organizations, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris is using the storm to solicit donations to his super PAC.
Morris' Super PAC for America sent an "Urgent" message to NewsMax.com's email list earlier today with the subject line, "Dick Morris: Hurricane Hurts Obama, Helps Romney." In the email, Morris writes that while the storm "will drench many states with rain while battering them with dangerous winds," President Obama's decision to cancel campaign events to prepare for it was "a cynical grab for votes."
In the email, Morris conveys a sense of excitement at the prospect of storm damage depressing Democratic turnout. He writes that Hurricane Sandy helps Romney because the effects of the storm will be felt for weeks due to power outages and flooding, and "Obama voters are looking for ANY excuse to not vote for him," while Romney voters "will drive through a blizzard to the polls."
According to Morris, the Obama campaign "will realize their cynical attempt to use this weather disaster for political gain was one big failure," and possibly unleash a "surprise" in the next few days in order to derail Romney. Conveniently, Morris' super PAC is prepared to counter "Obama's Chicago-style get out the vote machine," as long as you donate:
Conservative media figures are lashing out at GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for not attacking President Obama aggressively enough during tonight's presidential debate over his handling of Libya. Many of these same media figures have spent much of the past month lobbing frequent, inaccurate attacks at the administration over the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Fox News host Greg Gutfeld:
Fox News political analyst Dick Morris:
Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes:
Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin:
Fox News host Eric Bolling:
Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham:
Romney has regularly echoed false talking points from conservative media figures during debates.
At the start of the presidential debate in Florida, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris tweeted:
Fox News contributor Dick Morris treated a group of Republican donors to a tour of Fox News and tapings of Lou Dobbs Tonight and Hannity. Participants in that December 2011 visit, which has not been previously reported, were being rewarded for donations they made to their local Republican party at a fundraising dinner Morris headlined earlier that year. In March, Morris was reprimanded by Fox for similar conduct related to a separate GOP fundraiser he headlined.
On December 14, Michigan's Oakland County Republican Party (OCRP) posted a short video of a party donor with Sean Hannity on its Facebook page and wrote that the party member "was part of the group of donors we arranged to visit Fox News in New York."
A separate posting on OCRP's Facebook page described the Fox-GOP donor visit in more detail, writing that it was "absolutely awesome" and an "exceptional opportunity." The post said that Morris "himself came down to greet us. After brief introductions he escorted us up to the studio where Lou Dobbs was broadcasting live. We were all introduced to Mr. Dobbs and stood quietly just off camera while he did a live segment with Dick Morris."
The donors also discussed politics with Sean Hannity in the green room and "went to Sean's set where he taped a segment with Dick."
The post concluded of the Fox News tour: "What an amazing time. It would not have been possible without your efforts and of course attending the fantastic OCRP Lincoln Day dinner as a member of the prestigious 400 Club." (The 400 Club is a fundraising membership level ($400) for the party.)
Morris, along with the late Andrew Breitbart, were guest speakers at the OCRP's May 25, 2011, Lincoln Day Dinner. Attendees paid $75 for a general admissions ticket or $500 to attend a VIP reception with Morris, which included a copy of his book and a "premiere photo op." There was also a reception for 400 Club members. Republicans hold annual Lincoln Day Dinners as fundraisers for their party organizations.
OCRP Executive Director Dennis Pittman, who helped organize the Lincoln Day Dinner, told Media Matters that the Fox News tour was one of the perks given to "better donors."
Conservative media figures and outlets have sent out to their email lists numerous paid fundraising solicitations from "scam PACs" whose directors are apparently looking to cash in on the election season.
Politico reports today that a new "cottage industry" has sprung up during the presidential race in which vaguely-named super PACs have used major Republican national campaigns like Rep. Allen West's re-election bid in Florida to "raise money for themselves and build their email lists."
The groups have been sending out fundraising pitches promising to help West or defeat Obama in November, but "those chunks of $25 and $50 don't often find their way to any serious campaigns to beat Obama or boost West." The article quotes West's campaign attorney saying that the "vast majority of the groups that we know are engaged in this have done nothing for West."
As explained by Politico, "political operatives can create a PAC and corresponding website on the cheap, drop some cash to rent an email list and, voilà-- in come the small-dollar contributions from grass-roots Republicans."
Conservative outlets like RedState and Townhall and media figures like Dick Morris and Mike Huckabee have been enabling these so-called "scam PACs" by renting out their email lists for these fundraising pitches.