On The O'Reilly Factor yesterday, Fox News "political analyst" Dick Morris touted a scheduled debate moderated by Donald Trump for Newsmax.com. At no point did Morris or Fox News disclose Morris' significant conflict of interests: Morris has said he's been paid by Newsmax; Morris' "e-mail list is represented exclusively by Newsmax"; and Newsmax frequently sponsors content on Morris' email list, most recently sending out an advertisement for its Trump debate.
During his Fox News appearance, Morris -- who has a horrific record of political prognostication -- predicted that Mitt Romney "will go" to the Newsmax/Trump debate and added, "I think he is being foolish for saying no." Morris then touted the "wide reach" of Newsmax:
Originally I guess they were -- they saw this kind of limited TV exposure, but Newsmax the group that's sponsoring it has a wide reach and I suspect by the time the debate happens it will be on a great many TV screens throughout the country.
Morris also said it "would be terrific" to have Trump moderating a presidential debate:
I think we reached a tipping point in that foreign policy debate the last big one where the American Enterprise Institute and the CATO Institute asked the questions. Not some TV anchor person who doesn't know anything about anything. And you really had good questions, substantive questions.
And I think it would be terrific to have Donald Trump ask these guys what they are going to do about the economy and then critique their answers and engage in a give and take.
And I think Romney should jump at that opportunity. This is his issue. And frankly when you are 15 points behind you go to debates.
Morris has shilled for Newsmax products through Newsmax's and Morris' email lists. Morris himself stated that he has been paid by Newsmax. In a May 4, 2009, "Urgent Message" to his email list, Morris urged readers to sign up for a Newsmax webcast with him in order to "protect your wealth and investments from the far-reaching hands of Barack Obama and the Democrats in Washington." Morris explained that "[e]ven though they are paying me to send you this email; I have, in fact, invested my own money with them because I think they are onto something."
On his website, Morris directs those interested in advertising on his email list to "contact Newsmax Media." The advertising page states that Morris' list "is represented exclusively by Newsmax Media." Morris' list is also listed under Newsmax's "Online Media Kit."
Yesterday, Morris sent an email which included ads for Newsmax. The email contained an image ad for Trump's Newsmax debate ("Join Trump for GOP Debate Click Here") and text stating, "Join Donald Trump for Most Important GOP Debate in History." The images and text link to a Newsmax.com page where readers can sign-up for more information about the debate.
This morning, DickMorris.com sent a standalone email sponsored by Newsmax about the Newsmax/Trump debate. The email began, "Join Donald Trump for the most important Presidential Debate in American history!" and concluded, "Sign up to RSVP to Join Donald Trump for the Debate -- Go Here Now!"
Newsmax is a frequent "paid sponsor" of Morris' list. Since October 4, according to a Media Matters search of emails received from Morris' list, DickMorris.com has sent out eight, standalone emails sponsored by Newsmax and touting Newsmax products. (See: December 8; November 30; November 17; November 9; October 28; October 26; October 19; October 4.)
Morris has made a sport of appearing on Fox News and pushing candidates and organizations with whom he's financially tied. Still, Fox News has shown no apparent concern about the conduct of its frequent on-air contributor. When pressed by the Associated Press' David Bauder with questions about Morris, Fox News executive Bill Shine "declined requests for an interview about the topic."