On the January 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris claimed that he believes "somebody close" to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) "war room" "indeed planted" the discredited accusation with InsightMag.com that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) attended a madrassa in his youth. Morris, who himself called the InsightMag.com accusation against Obama "inaccurate," provided no substantiation for his assertion beyond his own "belie[f]," and, as ABC News reported, the accusation that Clinton is responsible for the smear "remains unproven and unsubstantiated." Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson said of the smear, "We have no connection to this story." Similarly, Obama strategist David Axelrod said he did not "believe ... for a second" the allegation that Clinton's camp was behind the story.
The InsightMag.com article referred only to anonymous "[s]ources close to the background check" of Obama that was purportedly "conducted by researchers connected to Senator Clinton." The "sources" said that the "background check" "disclosed details of Mr. Obama's Muslim past." The article alternated between referring to "sources" and "the source," using the latter when purportedly quoting someone directly.
Later in the show, co-host Alan Colmes asked Morris if the claim that Clinton's staff had propagated the smear was itself "a smear against the Clintons," to which Morris replied: "No, it's an accurate description of their tactics."
As Media Matters for America noted, Morris, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, is reportedly planning to "Swift Boat" Sen. Clinton. In his January 20 column, nationally syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak wrote that Morris is "asking for a contribution between $25 and $100 or more to finance a critical film documentary of Sen. Hillary Clinton." According to Novak, in a mailing sent out by The Presidential Coalition, a group run by Republican activist and discredited former congressional staffer David Bossie, Morris wrote: "If you liked how the Swift Boat Veterans turned the tide against John Kerry, you understand how a top Clinton aide can turn the tables and stop a Clinton-style liberal from becoming the next president of the United States."
Media Matters has also documented numerous Morris falsehoods and smears of Democrats. Most recently, Morris falsely claimed that Obama voted against an amendment to a Senate ethics reform bill that would have prevented legislators from hiring family members to their campaign committees and political action committees. Morris asserted that Clinton "will probably use the Illinois senator's vote against him in the presidential primaries." In fact, Obama voted against a measure to table, or effectively kill, the amendment. Morris subsequently apologized and retracted the allegation.
From the January 29 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: It's very interesting, something that's emerging, the battle between Hillary and Barack Obama. It's interesting, if you look at the fundraising. [Progressive philanthropist George] Soros has abandoned Hillary for Barack Obama. We see [filmmaker Steven] Spielberg and [movie producer David] Geffen and the Hollywood crowd, they're supporting Obama. The [Sen. John] Kerry [D-MA] fundraising people, they went to Obama. So can I tie that to all the negative things that have come up in the last three weeks against Barack Obama? Is there a connection?
MORRIS: Yeah. You are going to a see an avalanche of negative stories about Obama. I believe that that Insight magazine story that was inaccurate, that he went to a Muslim school, was indeed planted, as Insight magazine said, by somebody close to the Clinton war room.
And I think you can see two other lines of attack. The New York Times flagged it yesterday. In Frank Rich's column, he says that Obama said he admires Derrick Bell, who was the professor who resigned over wanting more affirmative action. And it quotes him when he was 28 years old on law review, saying, "I don't care about the suburbs. I'm not interested in the suburbs." But you're going to see a real effort to paint him as a monster, and it's all going to be from the Clinton damage control people, from the private detectives Hillary hires. It's all going to come to that.
HANNITY: But the quote is, you know, when you're attacked, you have to deck your opponent. That's what Hillary said this weekend. And it's interesting, because she's in the middle of a image makeover here. I mean, on her website, her Web chat, the one question. "Hillary, what do you love to do in your spare time?" And the answer --
MORRIS: Homemade Christmas ornaments.
HANNITY: No, I like to clean. I like to clean out my closets, because there's a beginning, a middle, and an end. I'm thinking --
MORRIS: The only time she said she was cleaning out her closet was the weekend before the Monica Lewinsky deposition, when she said, "Bill and I were cleaning out closets."
HANNITY: All right. But, now, do you really believe she feels threatened by Barack Obama?
MORRIS: Oh, yes, absolutely.
HANNITY: Because with money --
MORRIS: Not just the money, but the timing. Not the money so much, because she'll have plenty of money. But the stardust, the wanderlust, all of a sudden, she's not the star. There's [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi [D-CA] up in the big chair. There's another woman on the horizon. And there's a first black, which is a more important first than a first woman.
COLMES: We've got to run, but let me get this straight. So Obama is going to be smeared, and he's going to be smeared by the Clintons, but saying that is not a smear against the Clintons?
MORRIS: No, it's an accurate description of their tactics.