Dick Morris, cut loose from Fox News after years of embarrassingly wrong political analysis, is still gainfully employed by The Hill, which continues to publish his weekly column. The very public battering Morris took following the 2012 election has done nothing to improve the quality of his commentary, and his most recent Hill column demonstrates as much. Headlined "Latinos could be GOP allies," the column is based on a Republican-funded push poll conducted by a pollster whose work in the 2012 Mexican presidential election distinguished itself with near-Dick Morris levels of inaccuracy.
"A new poll taken by Mexico's leading public opinion researcher shows that U.S. citizens of Latino descent are potentially strong allies of the Republican Party," writes Morris. The poll, as Morris acknowledges, was "organized and funded by John Jordan of Jordan Winery, a prominent Republican donor," but that's really the least of its problems. The questions asked, as quoted by Morris, are so over-the-top and one-sided that it's no real surprise the results are so favorable to the GOP:
By 59-34 percent, U.S. Latinos agreed that "Democrats are closer to the leaders we had in Latin America, always giving handouts to get votes. If we let them have their way, we will end up being like the countries our families came from, not like the America of great opportunities we all came to."
By 78-16 percent, U.S. Latinos agreed that Latino immigrants must "not go the way some have gone into high unemployment, crime, drugs, and welfare.
They must be more like the hard working immigrants who came here and worked their way up without depending on the government." More important, when asked which party most shares this sentiment, they chose the Republicans, by a margin of 45-29 percent.
By 47-31, Latinos agree that Republicans would do more to "strengthen churches so they can help the poor and teach values of faith and family." By 89-8, they think that "too many people depend on the government and its handouts. That way of thinking is very bad and leads to lifetimes of unemployment, poverty, and crime." And, by 45-37, they believe the Republican Party is more likely to share their view than Democrats are.
The poll's methodology does little to enhance its credibility. It combined telephone and in-person interviews conducted over the course of an entire month, January 15 to February 15. What's the problem with having a poll in the field that long? Something big could happen that might alter the opinions of the population being sampled -- like, say, the president of the United States laying out an immigration reform plan.
From the February 17 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the February 10 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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From the February 7th edition of Current TV's The Bill Press Show:
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After Fox News officials confirmed that they were not renewing his contract, Dick Morris appeared on Piers Morgan's CNN show. Despite being faced by his numerous failed political predictions, Morris went on to discuss the future of the Republican Party and was invited back by Morgan to provide further analysis.
Morris appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight to discuss, among other things, his split from Fox after nearly 15 years, which Morris described by saying that "the divorce isn't final, but I am seeing other people." Morgan began the interview by playing several clips of Morris predicting a landslide victory for Mitt Romney during the 2012 general election, asking if there was "any rational explanation for why you got it so wrong?" Morris began by attributing President Obama's victory to Hurricane Sandy before finally admitting that "I was wrong and I was wrong at the top of my lungs":
But Morris has been wrong about more than just Romney not winning the presidential election in a landslide. He predicted Republicans would win "10 seats in the Senate" in 2012, thought it was "very possible" that Obama would drop out of the race, and that Donald Trump would run and defeat Obama. In the 2008 election, Morris predicted the race would be between Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, that the GOP would never nominate Sen. John McCain, and labeled Arkansas, a state McCain won by 20 points, "leaning Obama."
Fox News recently confirmed that it has decided to part ways with longtime analyst Dick Morris. His departure follows numerous on-air ethical lapses and a long record of wildly inaccurate predictions.
New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported, "Inside Fox News, Morris's Romney boosterism and reality-denying predictions became a punch line." In recent years, his now former colleagues at Fox News have called him "often wrong," a self-promoter, and "creepy," and a Fox News vice president publicly rebuked Morris for attempting to auction off a Fox News studio tour to benefit a local Republican party.
Here are ten Fox Newsers who have mocked or rebuked Morris:
Following nearly fifteen years of countless ethical violations, inaccurate electoral predictions, and offensive, false, and dishonest comments, Fox News political analyst Dick Morris is done at the network.
His exit is long overdue.
After Morris announced on his website that he would be appearing on the February 6 edition of CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight, Fox News officials confirmed that the network had declined to renew his contract.
Though Morris had made dozens of appearances on Fox News in the months before the 2012 election, he has been absent from the network's airwaves since a November 12 appearance on Hannity. Prior to the election, Morris repeatedly told Fox's audience that Mitt Romney was headed to a "landslide" election victory over President Barack Obama.
New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman reported in December that Fox News had benched Morris, requiring producers to get permission from high-ranking network executives before booking him on their shows. According to Sherman, "Morris's Romney boosterism and reality-denying predictions became a punch line" inside the network. In recent years the network's executives had also repeatedly been subjected to inquiries from reporters concerning Morris' pattern of ethical misdeeds.
During a May 2012 appearance on the O'Reilly Factor -- a program that featured Morris hundreds of times during his tenure at the network -- host Bill O'Reilly told Morris that he was so far "out on the limb" predicting a Romney win, that if Obama were to be re-elected, Morris would be "through."
At least as far as Morris' Fox employment is concerned, O'Reilly was right.
In this report:
From the February 5 edition of MSNBC's The Last Word:
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Fox News political analyst Dick Morris, who has been absent from the network for nearly three months following a directive that any segments with him would have to be cleared by a top network executive -- will appear on CNN February 6.
Morris announced the appearance -- his first on CNN since 2002, according to a search of the Nexis database -- on his website, writing, "You read it right! I will be a guest on The Piers Morgan Show on CNN, yes CNN, this Wednesday night at 9 PM EST."
After appearing dozens of times to provide political analysis in the weeks leading up to the 2012 election, Morris has not appeared on Fox News since a November 12 interview on Hannity, according to a Media Matters review of the Nexis and TVEyes.com databases. By contrast, following the 2008 presidential election, he appeared 19 times on Fox's primetime alone from November 13, 2008, through February 5, 2009, making regular appearances to discuss the political news of the day on The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes/Hannity, and On the Record.
Morris' shoddy prognostication and unethical behavior has been a perpetual source of humiliation for Fox News. He has been a paid contributor to the network since 1998.
In December, New York magazine's Gabe Sherman reported that both Morris and fellow Fox political analyst Karl Rove had been benched by the network, with producers requiring approval in order to book either pundit. According to Sherman, Morris was considered a "punch line" by his colleagues due to his "Romney boosterism and reality-denying predictions." While Rove has returned to the network in recent days and even had his contract renewed, Morris has been absent.
According to TVEyes, the last time Morris was even mentioned on Fox News was in mid-December and it was a mocking reference made by a puppet. On the December 12 edition of Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld, "Pinch" -- a puppet that's comprised of a stack of New York Times papers and voiced by Bill Schultz -- said that Nate Silver is "sort of like Dick Morris but, you know, accurate."
UPDATE: A CNN spokesperson confirmed to Media Matters that Morris will appear as a guest on the February 6 edition of Piers Morgan Tonight.
Dick Morris' lawyers have reportedly confirmed that the conservative commentator's website received money in a fundraising scheme involving his mailing list, the conservative outlet Newsmax, and his organization Super PAC for America. Morris is also reportedly distancing himself from the super PAC despite previously stating that he "formed" the group and it's "my organization."
Media Matters wrote on December 7 that Morris aggressively fundraised for the super PAC, which then apparently funneled money back to Morris through rentals of his DickMorris.com email list.
According to Federal Election Commission data, Morris' Super PAC for America paid Newsmax Media roughly $1.7 million for "fundraising" in October and November. Dick Morris' email list is operated by Newsmax. In the month before the 2012 election, Morris sent at least 21 emails to his mailing list featuring fundraising pitches that were "paid for by Super PAC for America," meaning that a significant portion of the super PAC's money likely went to renting Morris' own email list. Super PAC for America also "paid for" at least 25 emails to Newsmax.com's main email list during the same period.
On her January 4 program, Rachel Maddow reported that she received a letter from Morris' lawyers confirming that "some of" the money paid to Newsmax "was to broker the DickMorris.com mailing list, but they dispute that it was a substantial portion."
In May, O'Reilly Factor host Bill O'Reilly told Fox News political analyst Dick Morris that because he was "so far out on the limb" predicting a Romney win in the presidential election, if Obama were to be re-elected Morris would be "through" and "selling refrigerators in Topeka." Seven months later, following Obama's comfortable re-election, Morris isn't selling appliances in Kansas (that we know of), but he's the laughingstock of the political pundit class and has temporarily been benched at Fox News.
Like most other years of Morris' media career, 2012 was marked by terribly inaccurate election predictions, habitual dishonesty, and questionable ethical conflicts. Unlike most other years, however, Morris appears to actually be facing consequences and backlash for his role as America's Worst Political Pundit.
After Morris made more than fifteen appearances on Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, Hannity, and On the Record in October and early November, he's been absent from the network's primetime lineup since November 12 following reports that producers now have to get special permission to book him (or Karl Rove) on their shows. He has also been publicly criticized by numerous media ethicists from prominent newspapers and universities, countless political writers and reporters in the U.S. (and abroad), donors to his shady super PAC, and his colleagues at The Hill newspaper.
Appearing on Fox & Friends the day before the election to discuss his prediction of a "landslide" Romney victory, Morris said of the various people predicting an Obama win, "either I'm gonna have to go through a big reckoning, or they are. And you know what? They are."
It was another prediction that wouldn't shake out.
Retired donors to a super PAC supported by Dick Morris say they are dissatisfied with how their money was spent. It's not hard to see why.
As Media Matters reported last week, Federal Election Commission documents show that Morris' Super PAC for America paid nearly $1.7 million, or nearly half of all money the Fox News political analyst and columnist for The Hill helped raise, to Newsmax Media, which manages Morris' for-rent email list.
The circular scam apparently worked like this: Morris, acting as chief strategist for the group, sent at least 21 emails to his private for-rent email list, urging readers to give generously to the PAC to fund television ads Morris claimed were essential to a Mitt Romney victory. Newsmax.com sent an additional 25 emails to their own list, featuring a similar pitch and often the signature of either Morris or Michael Reagan, a Newsmax columnist and the PAC's chairman. Then a large percentage of the take was directed back to the coffers of Newsmax, which derives significant profits from its ability to rent out its mailing list to various groups.
Super PACs are unregulated and free to spend their funds however they see fit. But they generally contribute most of their money to candidates or partisan advertising. It is unusual for them to spend half of their revenue on fundraising, and more so for that fundraising to directly profit the PAC's primary spokesperson and strategist. Said Viveca Novak of the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks political spending: "Spending 50 percent for fundraising and other expenses would be high."
Morris' own supporters agree. Media Matters contacted more than 100 of his donors using publicly available information from the FEC. A disproportionate number of those listed in the FEC filings are retired, and at least a dozen of those contacted seemed extremely confused in their responses. Many more were openly hostile when asked for comment, especially in response to this reporter's stated association with Media Matters.
Others were polite and curious to know how Dick Morris spent their money. Richard Clark, a retired farmer in Jefferson, New Hampshire, made two donations totaling $350 to Morris' group. He was taken aback to learn where roughly $160 of it went. "Half of the budget going to fundraising is probably too high, a quarter of the total is probably closer to the maximum," said Clark, who is also disturbed by Morris' wide margin of error in predicting the election's outcome. "Dick Morris' emails convinced me to contribute, but he was way off. I'm less likely to send him money in the future."
Don Hall, a disabled and retired insurance man in Amarillo, Texas, made five donations to Super PAC for America totaling $1,000. As a longtime fan of Morris' "lunchtime videos," the numbers and implications of the FEC filing disturbed him. "If it is true [that nearly 50 percent of funds went to fundraise through Newsmax and Morris' website] then it would definitely affect my trust in Morris," said Hall. "It would stop all contributions to him in the future."
As Republicans continue to try to make sense of their recent election losses, the finger pointing is becoming more intense.
In recent days, prominent conservatives Bill Kristol and Joe Scarborough have leveled a new allegation: Major players have allowed their pursuit of personal wealth (and ego) to take precedence over larger political goals; that elements of the conservative movement resemble a me-first, moneymaking "racket," where lining ones pockets stands out as the key objective.
The nasty "racket" accusation highlights what's happened as Republicans have handed over more and more of their branding and marketing to media personalities whose ultimate barometers of success (ratings and personal income) differ from those who run political parties (getting candidates elected to office).
In the business of media self-promotion, and particularly the carnival barker variety that powers so much of the conservative movement via Fox News and AM talk radio, it's inevitable that the goals of the "conservative entertainment complex," as writer David Frum dubbed it, would collide with the retail politics of the Republican Party. (Frum has charged the complex with having "fleeced and "exploited" its followers.)
Remember when Glenn Beck charged fans $125 to sit through the taping of his radio show? Or when he charged $500 if they wanted to attend a meet-and-greet before the show? And that was after Beck banked $32 million the previous year. More recently, conservative pundits and outlets have rushed to cash in on election spending by renting their emails lists, while Fox News' Karl Rove lightened wealthy donors' bankrolls by $300 million via his failed political groups.
It's conservatism as an ATM.
The "racket" implication also extends beyond the media world and into the Tea Party, which Fox has faithfully touted as a "grassroot" movement. That feel-good characterization was hard to square with the recent revelation that former GOP House Majority Leader Dick Armey stepped down as chairman of FreedomWorks, an influential Tea Party non-profit group, with a staggering $8 million golden parachute. (He will reportedly be paid in $400,000 installments, annually, in "consulting fees.")
Republicans rarely begrudge millionaires for big paydays. (It's the free marketplace!) But if they think cashing in has trumped winning elections, GOP pushback is inevitable.
From the December 10 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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While the 2012 election may have severely damaged Dick Morris' credibility as a pundit, leading to his temporary benching at Fox News, it appears to have been good for his wallet. The Fox News contributor and columnist at The Hill aggressively fundraised for a super PAC he advised, which then apparently funneled money back to Morris through rentals of his email list.
According to FEC data released December 6, Morris' Super PAC for America paid conservative news outlet Newsmax Media roughly $1.7 million for "fundraising" in October and November. A significant portion of the super PAC's money likely went to renting Morris' own email list, which is operated by Newsmax Media.
A Media Matters review found that in the month before the election, Morris sent at least 21 emails to his mailing list featuring fundraising pitches that were "paid for by Super PAC for America." Super PAC also "paid for" at least 25 emails to Newsmax.com's main email list during the same period.
This is the second consecutive election cycle that Super PAC for America has paid significant money to Newsmax. The group, which was formed prior to the 2010 midterm elections, paid Newsmax Media nearly $2 million in 2010 for advertising, fundraising, and "email list rental." At the time, Morris also sent numerous fundraising solicitations to his email list that were "paid for by Super PAC for America." Morris also regularly used his Fox News platform in 2010 to promote the group.
In October and November of 2012, Super PAC for America paid more money to Newsmax Media than it spent on all independent expenditures combined. The Newsmax payments represent 46 percent of the net contributions made to the super PAC during the 2012 election cycle. And Morris, who serves as the group's chief strategist, isn't the only Super PAC for America official tied to the media outlet. Michael Reagan, who serves as Super PAC for America's chairman, is a Newsmax columnist.
In 2011, the New York Times reported that Newsmax's soaring profits were tied to their ability to leverage their "politically plugged-in" readership, with the outlet regularly renting out their mailing list to various groups for thousands of dollars.