On MSNBC Friday night, Rachel Maddow reported that she had recently received a very stern letter from lawyers for Fox pundit Dick Morris who objected to a report by Maddow last month on Morris’ financial activities. In the report, Maddow described how Morris paid for advertising on the birther website NewsMax only to recoup the advertising fees when NewsMax rented DickMorris.com’s mailing lists. The lawyers did not like the fact that Maddow had described the amount of money Morris laundered through NewsMax as “substantial.”
Morris is the one-time Democratic strategist who lost his job as Pres. Clinton’s Karl Rove when he was caught in a toe-sucking scandal with a hooker that broke on the day of Pres. Clinton’s acceptance speech at the 1996 Democratic Convention.
Now Morris is best known as the most consistently wrong pundit on Fox. Just prior to the presidential election last year, for example, Morris assured Fox personality Sean Hannity that, “There is no chance that Obama will get re-elected. Zilch. None. Zip. Nada.”
Here’s what upset Morris about Maddow’s segment on his fundraising:
In the segment, Maddow highlighted an October 24, 2010 fundraising appeal from Morris that appeared on DickMorris.com and was bylined with his name. It said, in part, “My organization, SuperPacUSA.com is targeting 24 seats” in television ad buys and other media outlays. He included a special appeal for funds in the fight against Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), saying that “the Boston media market is very expensive,” so please “give as sizable a donation as you can as quickly as you can.”
“What’s weird is that the letter his lawyer sent us insists that even though Dick Morris himself called the super PAC ‘my organization,’ he now insists that this super PAC should not be described as Dick Morris’ super PAC,” she said. “The letter says he did not organize, control or make any financial decisions for SuperPAC for America” and was only hired by the organization to do a specific fundraising appeal to help elect Romney president.
But there he was in 2010, she pointed out, calling Super PAC for America “my organization,” which he was using to elect Republicans to Congress.
“So this is weird, right?” she asked.
She was happy to clarify that the president of Super PAC for America is a man named Michael Reagan, and that Dick Morris’ title at the organization is “chief strategist.” And if he wants to deny that he has an official role at the PAC, “he needs to take that up with whoever signs the name ‘Dick Morris’ to letters that get posted at DickMorris.com.”
One of the more interesting facts about Super PAC for America is that toward the end of the 2012 election cycle, it dumped more than a million dollars of its money raised from small donors on the right wing blog NewsMax for advertising in the name of fundraising. FEC filings show it, it’s a matter of public record, and yet Morris’ lawyers are outraged (outraged!) that Maddow would say so on the air.
But the fact is that when Morris’ strategy is to aim money at NewsMax, he is essentially paying himself, because NewsMax purportedly pays top dollar for access to DickMorris.com’s mailing list of donors. So a sizable chunk of what Dick Morris was raising, allegedly to defeat Barack Obama, was probably going right back into his own pockets.
Morris’ attorneys took issue with Maddow’s use of the word “substantial” to describe the amount of money paid over to DickMorris.com. In truth, she said, we don’t know exactly how much Morris was paying himself, perhaps it was only a fraction of the money raised for the organization that called him chief strategist.
But the lawyers do confirm that yes, NewsMax was the broker that paid for the mailing list, that they paid DickMorris.com for the mailing list using money that Dick Morris helped raise. Mainly they’re just quibbling about the amount.
Maddow issued a mea culpa, saying that no, she does not have evidence that the sleazy transaction was “substantial”-ly sleazy or just bush league, run-of-the-mill sleazy and for that, she apologized. But the rest of it?
“When we do not get stuff wrong, I will not take it back because you do not like the sound of it, even though it is true,” she said sternly. ”And hey, why you don’t like the sound of something sometimes ends up being newsworthy itself.”