FOX's Dick Morris rewrites history again; A Media Matters for America Update

A May 4 Media Matters for America analysis identified several examples of misinformation in Dick Morris's new book, Rewriting History (which is now the fourth best-selling book's "Bestsellers" list). On May 4, FOX News Channel political analyst Dick Morris appeared on FOX's Hannity & Colmes; on May 5, he was on that network's FOX & Friends. On both shows, Morris continued to deceive his audience: He made false claims about Senator Hillary Clinton's book, about his own book, about what President Bill Clinton told him about Monica Lewinsky, and about what Chelsea Clinton said about September 11.

Following are several of the claims Morris made on FOX News Channel on May 4 and May 5, followed by the facts.

Morris on FOX: “She says in the book, which is harmless, that she was named after Edmund Hillary, who climbed Mount Everest. But he did it five years after she was born.” [FOX News Channel, Hannity & Colmes, 5/4/04]

The Truth: Nowhere in Living History does Hillary Clinton say she was named after Edmund Hillary.

Morris on FOX: “I wanted to have the picture from Hillary's book with Living History crossed out. And the lawyers at Regan Books said you can't do that. You'll get sued because they'll say you're trying to fool people and think this is Hillary's book. ... So we cut it in half and we put her chin on top and the forehead on the bottom.” [FOX News Channel, Hannity & Colmes, 5/4/04]

The Truth: Morris's book cover does not use the same picture found on the cover of Living History. See for yourself ... Morris's cover and Clinton's cover:

The cover of Living History depicts Senator Clinton with her chin resting on her hand, wearing a black turtleneck. Senator Clinton's hand is nowhere to be found on Morris's book cover, and the shirt she is wearing is not a turtleneck.

Morris on FOX: “Bill Clinton was the only -- I was one of the only person who Bill Clinton told the truth to about Monica Lewinsky, with the possible exception of Hillary. We'll never know. So I knew that it was true. I didn't reveal it until the grand jury made me, but I knew it was true.” [FOX News Channel, Hannity & Colmes, 5/4/04]

The Truth: Morris's comments seem to contradict his sworn testimony to a grand jury. In 1998, Morris told the grand jury investigating the Lewinsky matter that Clinton told him “these charges aren't true.” Following are some excerpts from Morris's sworn testimony:

Morris Grand Jury Testimony: “Then he said, 'I didn't do what they said I did, but I did do something. I mean, with this girl, I didn't do what they said, but I did -- but I did do -- but I did do something.' He repeated it like twice.” [Morris deposition, page 14, emphasis added]

Morris Grand Jury Testimony: “And this was a situation in which I felt that it would be the better part of discretion for me not to show him the questions because I didn't want to be forcing him to make admissions to me in the course of approving or disapproving the questionnaire.” [Morris deposition, page 21, emphasis added]

Morris Grand Jury Testimony: "None of these [poll questions] were based on his information to me, it was all based on my suppositions of the worst case scenario. And that's a frequent thing that I've always done with Clinton. Whenever things are bad, I always sort of imagine the worst and see if he can survive it and then kind of work back from there." [Morris deposition, page 23, emphasis added]

Morris Grand Jury Testimony: “And then he [Clinton] said, 'In all the conversations, I've made clear to you that these charges aren't true, haven't I?' And I said, 'Yes, you have.' Excuse me. In our conversation Wednesday night, after I read through the questionnaire with him, he said to me explicitly, 'And I've told you that these charges aren't true.' And I said, 'Yes, sir. You have.' Because earlier he told me, 'I didn't do what they said I did.' And I got the impression that he was saying it kind of for the record because, you know, he'd been fairly vague in his early conversation and in my reading him the questionnaire, I was taking some liberties and presuming that the charges were true in the thing and he was kind of just asserting that they weren't true.” [Morris deposition, p. 40, emphasis added]

Morris Grand Jury Testimony: “In those five conversations, he probably used the line 'These charges aren't true' five or six times. You know, I may not have recounted each of them in my seriatim discussion, but it was a constant recurring theme of his, that these conversations were not true. At the time, I had no idea what he was talking about in saying that 'I didn't do what they said I did, but I did do something.' And I had no notion of what he was talking about. And I didn't understand how it could be a sexual relationship and then not. So I was -- I just didn't understand it, but I wasn't about to ask him questions about it.” [Morris deposition, p 41-42, emphasis added]

Morris Grand Jury Testimony: “I think he deeply believed at the time, and I guess still does, that the charges weren't true. I think he has a very deep seated, fundamental belief in his own innocence. ... I would imagine, which I did not think then, I didn't know it then, that he may not have considered oral sex to be sexual relations and that he was hanging things on that and I think that's probably what he meant when he said that to me in the morning. You know, in the Wednesday morning conversation.” [Morris deposition, p 42-43, emphasis added]

Morris on FOX: “Katie Couric interviewed her on The Today Show seven days after 9/11. And she completely fabricated her story, made it up. ... That Chelsea jogged around the World Trade Center and was only protected because she went into a coffee shop and that she heard and saw the planes hit. Chelsea wrote an article four months later, saying she was 40 blocks -- 60 blocks away and watched it on TV, 80 blocks away, was not in danger.” [FOX News Channel, Hannity & Colmes, 5/4/04, emphasis added]

The Truth: Morris has completely fabricated his account of what Hillary Clinton said on NBC, beginning with who conducted the interview and continuing through what Hillary Clinton said. Then he fabricated what Chelsea Clinton wrote in Talk magazine.

Here's what Senator Clinton said on The Today Show:

SEN. 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.

SEN. CLINTON: She did hear it.

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

SEN. 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. [NBC, The Today Show, 9/17/01]

Senator Clinton, as the transcript reveals, didn't say Chelsea “jogged around the World Trade Center”; she said Chelsea "was going to go around the towers." She didn't say Chelsea “was only protected because she went into a coffee shop;” she simply said that Chelsea was getting a cup of coffee when the planes hit. And Chelsea didn't write in Talk that she was 40 -- or 60, or 80, or any other made-up number that pops out of Dick Morris's mouth -- blocks away from the towers; she said she was “12 blocks away,” according to a November 9, 2001 UPI article about the piece Chelsea wrote for Talk.

Morris on FOX: “If John Kerry is elected president, and Hillary is not his Vice President, she'll never get to be president. Because Kerry runs for election in '04, he wins re-election in '08, his Vice President runs in '12, re-election in '16, and by 2020, she's 73 years old.” [FOX News Channel, FOX & Friends, 5/5/04]

Morris in his book: “After all, John Kerry is the Democratic Party's candidate in 2004, but Hillary is still its most popular politician. Unless Kerry beats Bush, she can have the nomination for the asking in 2008. And even if Kerry wins and runs for a second term, it will probably be Hillary's turn in 2012. She could even run for Vice President in 2004.” [Morris, Rewriting History, p. 3]