Dick Morris claimed anti-Clinton movie can't be screened, but film's executive producer says otherwise
Research ››› ››› MATTHEW BIEDLINGMAIER
On Hannity & Colmes, Dick Morris claimed that the Federal Election Commission "won't let us run" Hillary: The Movie, a film about Sen. Hillary Clinton, "in movie theaters," adding that "[t]he Clinton appointees [on the FEC] are blocking it." But David Bossie, the film's executive producer, was recently quoted as saying, "I can put it in theaters, I just can't let anybody know it's there," referring to an FEC requirement that Citizens United, which released the film, comply with disclosure requirements under campaign finance law to advertise the film.
On the January 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Fox News contributor Dick Morris alleged that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) "won't let us run" the recently released Hillary: The Movie (Citizens United Productions), a film about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), "in movie theaters." Morris added: "The Clinton appointees [on the FEC] are blocking it." But Morris' claim that the movie cannot be screened is reportedly contradicted by the film's executive producer, David N. Bossie. Bossie, a Republican activist and discredited former congressional staffer, was quoted in a January 16 Washington Times article saying: "I can put it in theaters, I just can't let anybody know it's there," referring to an FEC requirement that Citizens United comply with disclosure requirements under campaign finance law to advertise the film.
In December 2007, Citizens United filed a complaint against the FEC regarding the film's advertising. According to the organization's press release, the suit "argu[ed] that issue-oriented television ads are protected by the First Amendment and should not be subject to disclosure requirements under McCain-Feingold campaign finance law." From the release:
As it prepares to release its hard-hitting political documentary, Hillary: The Movie, Citizens United, a grassroots advocacy organization, led by election law attorney James Bopp, Jr., today filed suit against the Federal Election Commission, arguing that issue-oriented television ads are protected by the First Amendment and should not be subject to disclosure requirements under McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.
At issue are sections of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act ("McCain-Feingold") that imposed a blackout period before elections on television advertisements that mentioned the name of a federal candidate -- "electioneering communications." Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court, in Federal Election Commission vs. Wisconsin Right to Life, ruled that groups could not be prohibited from running "genuine issue ads," during the blackout period, but the FEC has insisted that such groups must still put disclaimers on the ads and file reports about the ads, including naming their contributors. Citizens United is challenging these disclosure requirements, arguing the ads for the film, Hillary: The Movie, is a commercial ad, exempted in recent FEC rulemaking, and that disclosure requirements cannot be applied to such ads consistent with the First Amendment.
As Congressional Quarterly's MoneyLine noted on January 15, "A federal court decided today that the conservative group Citizens United could not run ads for its negative film on Hillary Rodham Clinton without disclosing the ad's donors." In its January 16 article, The Washington Times also reported that "a panel of three federal judges ruled against Citizens United in a Federal Election Commission case that so far has prevented the airing of TV advertisements for the documentary about Mrs. Clinton."
According to its website, Hillary: The Movie features "nearly 40 in-depth interviews with experts, opinion makers, and many of the people who personally locked horns with the Clintons." Some of these contributors include right-wing pundit Ann Coulter; former New York Times reporter Jeff Gerth, co-author of Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Little, Brown & Co., June 2007); Cyrus Nowrasteh, writer and producer of the ABC miniseries The Path to 9/11; Bay Buchanan, Republican strategist and author of The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton (Regnery, May 2007); conservative radio host Mark Levin; and Kathleen Willey, author of the new book, Target: Caught in the Crosshairs of Bill and Hillary Clinton (World Ahead Publishing, November 2007), among others.
According to Politico senior political writer Ben Smith in a March 23, 2007, blog post, Morris, a then-producer of the movie, wrote in an email that he "had to pull out as the producer" due to scheduling conflicts, but that he would "certainly appear in [the film] for a segment and wish[ed] the project well."
From the January 14 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
COLMES: Joining us now is former Clinton adviser Dick Morris. And to keep up-to-date on the presidential race, you can subscribe for free to Dick's columns and newsletters at DickMorris.com. Let me guess, Dick, you think the Clintons are going to play the race card if it'll help them win?
MORRIS: And Alan, it might send you into cardiac arrest, but at DickMorris.com, we have this movie, Hillary: The Movie -- and get it, because --
COLMES: You've got to love the guest who brings props.
MORRIS: -- the FEC -- the FEC won't let us run it in movie theaters. The Clinton appointees are blocking it.
COMES: Why not? 'Cause they say it's a campaign message.
MORRIS: Because they claim it -- yeah, they claim it is. But it's -- it inhibits free speech. But you can get it in a DVD --
COLMES: All right.
MORRIS: -- and show it to your friends. And that's the way around it.