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During Another FOX News “Blame Clinton” Discussion, Dick Morris Attacks Clinton's Terrorism Efforts Before Admitting Not Being Up To Speed On Last Three Years Of Presidency

Reported by Ellen - September 27, 2006 -

Last night’s Hannity & Colmes (9/27/06) devoted the first half-hour to more Clinton-bashing, specifically related to his efforts to prevent 9/11. Sean Hannity presented a slick little video he called the “Clinton terror timeline” which, as Alan Colmes later pointed out, left out some key Clinton accomplishments. The video just happened to stop short of the Bush presidency. There was no segment on the day’s issues about terrorism: The National Intelligence Estimate on the growth of terrorism since the Iraq invasion and no segment on the hearings in which a number of retired generals presented scorching criticisms of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The sole guest was professional Clinton-hater Dick Morris, who called Clinton a “bubbling cauldron of lava.” But under questioning from Alan Colmes, Morris admitted he was not familiar with Clinton’s work on terrorism after early 1998.

Credit goes to both hosts who brought up the NIE during their discussions about Clinton. Still, you couldn’t blame a viewer for thinking that the whole issue of terrorism in today’s America really revolved around Clinton. The fact that the sole guest was Dick Morris didn’t help, either. Morris’ entire career at FOX News is probably thanks to his everlasting resentment toward the Clintons who fired him when it came out that he had allowed a prostitute to listen in on his calls with the president. Predictably, Morris had nothing but criticism for Clinton’s efforts to fight terrorism and bin Laden. It wasn’t until late in the interview, when Colmes confronted him with information from other sources about Clinton’s “obsession” with fighting terrorism, that Morris admitted that it was “quite possible” that Clinton had ramped up his efforts after Morris left the Clinton administration in early 1998, nearly three years before Clinton left office. Not surprisingly, that fact seemed to escape Hannity’s notice.

Colmes started off his first go-round with Morris by quoting his column. “’Eight years of blame fell on Clinton’ for not getting bin Laden and you let the current president totally off the hook. After those eight years, he didn’t pick up the ball that he was handed and run with it. You ignore that.”

Morris claimed that “Bush is entitled to eight months of blame, Clinton’s eight years of blame.” Colmes did a fine job of defending Clinton’s efforts and bringing in Bush’s lack of action on the Cole bombing, for example. Colmes told Morris, “The Bush administration made a conscious decision not to pursue the Cole.” Morris did not argue that. Colmes also said, “Bush had how many years to get bin Laden by the way? …Since then he’s now had about five years.”

But the general thrust of the conversation remained on the Clinton years. Not mentioned was Condoleezza Rice’s dubious statement that nobody could have predicted the 9/11 events despite an August 6, 2001 presidential daily briefing, “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US” which stated that one possible method of attack was to hijack an airline.

When it was Hannity’s turn, the Clinton-attacks ramped up. Referring to the FOX News Sunday interview last weekend, Morris told Hannity, “The amazing thing about Bill Clinton is underneath that calm surface, no matter how famous he gets, no matter how high his approval gets, no matter what his place in history is, no matter what the popular adulation, lies a bubbling cauldron of lava and it comes out frequently but always in private. And this was the same bullying, acerbic violating of space that we’re all used to.”

Hannity giggled.

Morris continued, “I think that he was on (FOX News Sunday) expecting to be asked softballs and he got a hardball and he completely went berserk over it. And what you learn about him very quickly is the extent of his indignation is directly related to the truth of the accusation. The truer it is, the more ‘I didn’t have a relationship with that woman.’”

In Part 2 of the discussion, Colmes noted that the video timeline left some items out, such as the fact that Ronald Reagan supported the group that later became the Taliban; in 1998, Clinton gave a speech to the Naval Academy “restructuring government to focus on terrorism; June of 98 indicts bin Laden and then when he actually goes after him in 99, of course, he’s accused of wagging the dog.”

Morris agreed that “the Republican Party deserves a black eye for the wag the dog stuff” but went on to claim that the 1998 indictment took too long and prevented other measures of going after bin Laden. “If you could be with Bill Clinton when he went through welfare reform or balancing the budget, he knew every number, every fact, every detail. But when it came to terrorism, it just wasn’t his thing.”

Colmes pressed, “What about ‘obsessed with terrorism’ says Richard Clarke. 9/11 report says how focused he was on terrorism. I just went through a series of things he did.”

That’s when Morris finally admitted he was not completely up to speed on all that Clinton did. “It’s quite possible that after I left my daily contacts with him and ended them in early 98, that in 98, 99 and 2000, he began to take it seriously.” Comment: Even prior to his departure, how much inside knowledge would a political adviser, which is what Morris was, have about matters of national security? Morris made it sound like he was on the inside track.

Hannity overlooked Morris' bombshell and went back to one of his favorite, but debunked talking points. “I think the big story is the multiple times Sudan offered (bin Laden), and (Clinton) knows he’s a bad guy and he passed on him.”

Morris agreed. “Because he had not fast-tracked the World Trade Center.” In fact, as Media Matters has pointed out, Clinton was not offered Bin Laden by Sudan (and the 9/11 Commission agreed). Clinton tried to have the Saudis (the country whose royal family is so chummy with the Bush family) take bin Laden but they refused.

Morris went on to claim that Bill Clinton was threatening to go after the private lives of journalists, if they went after his marriage to Hillary. His unpersuasive basis was a Clinton statement, “We see the press basically follow the Republican bloodhounds, and do all that stuff again and whether or not the people that are doing it (the press) can escape the same scrutiny.”

At the end, Colmes asked Morris (without mentioning the prostitute incident), “Can you be objective about the Clintons?”

Hannity pretended Colmes was the biased one. “Ask him if HE can be objective about ‘em,” Hannity laughed.

Morris insisted he could, and offered as proof that Clinton had been “a great domestic policy president.”

Comment: If Morris was unfamiliar with Clinton's efforts on behalf of terrorism after early 98, shouldn't that have been made clear early in the discussion by "real journalism, fair and balanced" FOX News? Instead, Morris was presented as an expert on all of Clinton's efforts.

You can watch the FOX News version of "Path to 9/11" (that's what they call it), on their website.