Dick Morris again falsely claimed Clinton said Chelsea "was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11"

››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER

Syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, falsely asserted in a column that Sen. Hillary Clinton "said that Chelsea [Clinton] was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 and happened to duck into a coffee shop when the airplanes hit. She said that this move saved Chelsea's life." In fact, Hillary Clinton made no such claim.

In a March 25 column published on Newsmax.com and FrontPageMag.com, syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, wrote of Sen. Hillary Clinton: "Interviewed on the 'Today' show one week after 9/11, she spun an elaborate yarn. The kindest thing we could say was that it was a fantasy. Or a fabrication." Morris and McGann then falsely asserted that Hillary Clinton "said that Chelsea [Clinton] was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 and happened to duck into a coffee shop when the airplanes hit. She said that this move saved Chelsea's life." In fact, on the September 18, 2001, edition of NBC's Today, 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."

From the September 18, 2001, edition of Today (according to the LexisNexis transcript):

KATIE COURIC (co-host): Since being elected to office, New York's junior senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, managed to keep a relatively low profile until terror struck in lower Manhattan. At that moment, she was not just a senator, but a concerned parent. She recently sat down with "Dateline NBC's" Jane Pauley to talk about that morning.

PAULEY: Tuesday morning, Senator Hillary Clinton's first thought when the second plane hit was terrorists. Her next thought was Chelsea, who was not only in New York, but staying downtown.

CLINTON: She'd 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.

PAULEY: She was close enough to hear the rumble.

CLINTON: She did hear it.

PAULEY: And to see the smoke in person, not on television.

CLINTON: No. Of course, Bill was in Australia. And, you know, he was so upset by what he was seeing on television that I didn't want to tell him that I couldn't find her until I found her. I told him that, you know, everything's fine, don't worry. But I couldn't do it with the level of assurance that I needed until I could find her a couple of hours later.

A November 9, 2001, UPI article about a piece Chelsea Clinton wrote in Talk magazine corroborates Hillary Clinton's claim that Chelsea did, in fact, leave her apartment to have coffee the morning of the September 11, 2001, attacks:

"When the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, I was 12 blocks away, (and) nothing has been the same since," Clinton wrote in the December/January issue of Talk magazine, on sale Friday in New York.

[...]

Clinton had been staying with her high school friend Nicole Davison in her apartment near Union Square for a few days in September before she went to England to study at Oxford. After they had coffee together, Davison went to work and Clinton returned to the apartment.

Davison called Clinton with the news of the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center. Clinton turned on the television and watched the second plane crash into the second WTC tower, and tried to reach her mother in Washington, but after speaking to her assistant, the phone line went dead.

[...]

Panicked, Chelsea Clinton left the apartment and found herself running toward downtown "in the direction everyone else was coming from," in search of a public telephone. She was desperate to call her mother and her father, who was on a speaking tour in Australia.

Chelsea Clinton was downtown in line at a pay phone when she heard the rumble of the second tower collapsing. Later she found Davison and another friend, and the three spent the day walking uptown. Chelsea Clinton wrote that she had an "irrational medley of thoughts" running through her head.

As Media Matters for America has documented, Morris made similar false claims about Hillary Clinton's account of her daughter's whereabouts on the morning of September 11, 2001, on the March 24 edition of Hannity & Colmes and on the May 4, 2004, edition of Hannity & Colmes.

Later in the column, Morris and McGann wrote: "So why did Hillary make up the story about Chelsea? Most likely to was because her co-senator (and implicit rival for the voter's affection), a real New Yorker Chuck Schumer [D] spoke of his daughter, who attended Stuyvesant High School (Dick's alma mater) located next to the TRade [sic] Center, being at real risk on 9/11. Hillary needed to make herself part of the scene." They further wrote: "Her fabrication on the 'Today' show was no unique foray. It is her standard M.O.. [sic] It gives us pause in evaluating all of her stories and calls into question her entire credibility."

From the March 25 article by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann:

After 9/11, Hillary had a problem. New Yorkers were desperately focused on their own needs for protection and they were saddled with a Senator who was not one of them -- an Arkansasn [sic] or was it a Chicagoan?

Interviewed on the "Today" show one week after 9/11, she spun an elaborate yarn. The kindest thing we could say was that it was a fantasy. Or a fabrication.

She said that Chelsea was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 and happened to duck into a coffee shop when the airplanes hit. She said that this move saved Chelsea's life. But Chelsea told Talk magazine that she was in a friend's apartment four miles from ground zero when the first plane hit. Her friend called her, waking her up, and told her to turn on the TV. On television, she saw the second plane hit, disproving Hillary's claim that "she heard the plane hit. She heard it. She did."

So why did Hillary make up the story about Chelsea? Most likely to was because her co-senator (and implicit rival for the voter's affection), a real New Yorker Chuck Schumer spoke of his daughter, who attended Stuyvesant High School (Dick's alma mater) located next to the TRade Center, being at real risk on 9/11. Hillary needed to make herself part of the scene.

She invented the entire story on national television, the "Today" show, and didn't blink an eye.

Her fabrication on the "Today" show was no unique foray. It is her standard M.O.. It gives us pause in evaluating all of her stories and calls into question her entire credibility.

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