Mike Huckabee Shill Dick Morris May be on Payroll

Mike Huckabee and Dick Morris Together Again Photo Morris has been touting Huckabee The suddenly surging Mike Huckabee has been getting help on the sly from the politically ambidextrous Dick Morris, Jonathan Martin reports in The Politico.

Morris, who became famous for his work with another former Arkansas governor, Bill Clinton, has worked with Huckabee before. Aside from whatever taint Morris’ association brings, however, there’s a much bigger problem:

Morris lately has been lavishing praise in newspaper columns and television appearances on Huckabee, whose polished debate performances and recent gains in the polls in Iowa have given him a chance to penetrate the top tier among the GOP candidates.

“Mike Huckabee is on a roll,” Morris began one of his columns in The Hill newspaper last month. He also offers regular political analysis for Fox News and the New York Post.

Morris’ public touts of Huckabee sometimes come with disclosures of his past working relationship with the candidate, but they do not mention that the two men still talk regularly — an omission that could raise eyebrows among journalistic ethicists.

Presumably, that depends what “talk regularly” means. Columnists talk with sources all the times without feeling the need to disclose personal relationships. Indeed, as Kevin Drum has noted many times, “disclosure” often comes across as name dropping. If, however, Morris is on Huckabee’s payroll — or there’s an expectation that he will be if Huckabee does well in Iowa — then there’s a serious issue, indeed.

Ron Gunzburger has sources who say that’s indeed the case:

Morris claims he is acting in an entirely voluntary capacity by simply offering free advice. Keep in mind that nationally syndicated columnist George Will was pilloried by the media when it became public that he had secretly and voluntarily helped Ronald Reagan prepare for his Presidential debates in 1980. A prominent national GOP insider tells Politics1 that he believes Morris — despite his claims to the contrary — is paid for his services through Huckabee media consultant Dick Dresner. According to the source, Morris purportedly gets piece of all Huckabee campaign polling revenues, media commissions and consulting fees through money paid to Dresner’s firm.

It shouldn’t take too long to unravel this one. Frankly, though, Morris’ sliminess is well established. That serious news outlets are willing to overlook that is a sad reflection on journalistic standards, although perhaps understandable in a competitive market. It will be hard to find any sympathy for them, though, if it turns out that Morris was shilling for Huckabee while being paid by both sides.

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Christopher says:

    So he says nice things about the guy and that means he must be paid? He’s a POLITICAL commentator! Sounds to me like commentary.

    Sounds like a very baseless charge on your part, James. If it turns out to not be true, will you post a big apology here?

  2. James Joyner says:

    Read this again:

    Presumably, that depends what “talk regularly” means. Columnists talk with sources all the times without feeling the need to disclose personal relationships. Indeed, as Kevin Drum has noted many times, “disclosure” often comes across as name dropping. If, however, Morris is on Huckabee’s payroll — or there’s an expectation that he will be if Huckabee does well in Iowa — then there’s a serious issue, indeed.

    Ron Gunzburger has sources who say that’s indeed the case:

  3. davod says:

    James:

    My problem with Huckabee is that he is from Hope and that he was Governor. We went through this same story in 1990. The same warnings from the state media with the same denouncements of such from the candidate.

    I know we are not talking about sex here, but we are talking about profound differences in what he did and what he says he is for now.

    This makes at least three candidates with these problems.

  4. davod says:

    PS:

    Next we will find out he is hooked on weight loss drugs.

  5. Wayne says:

    Yes if Morris is being paid to be a Political consultant for Huck then it should be disclosed. I doubt if the Huck campaign can afford it now. Also Morris was a well-known political consultant long before he was a political commentator. He isn’t like a Dan Rather or Brian Williams news type.

    This is much to do about nothing. It would be like finding out Susan Estridge or another Democrat strategist commentator having contacts with Dems candidates. “Big news” not.

  6. Christopher says:

    Wayne,

    It sounds like you are saying that Dan Rather is an unbiased journalist. You must have meant something else, because the whole country knows that Dan Rather is an outright liberal who used his newscasts to promote his and the left’s agenda, which of course led to his much deserved downfall.

    Just pointing it out that you made a mistake. Its cool.

  7. Wayne says:

    Dan Rather was supposedly an unbiased journalist which we all now know was untrue. When someone passes themselves off as an unbiased journalist but later is found to be actively engage in biased coverage then it a scandal.

    If Morris was in a supposedly unbiased journalist position, it would be a scandal. He is anything but. One may want to call foul for favoring one candidate over the other but that doesn’t hold up either.

    Most of the political commentators show favoritism for one candidate or other.

    If it can be show that Huckabee approach Morris or anyone else and offer money for favorable coverage, it sould be a scandal. It should be for any candidate. If Morris ends up working for Huck without proof that it was in return for favorable coverage then it should not be a scandal. Similar instances have happen in the past.

  8. just me says:

    I generally avoid Dick Morris.

    He is smarmy in more ways than one-although he has in the past done a very nice job as a political consultant for Clinton (and others-smarminess aside), so I could see some campaigns trying to hire him.

    I don’t know what he has been saying about Huckabee as opposed to other candidates. I haven’t done a comparison of other news people and their comments on specific candidates.

    I do think touring the political news shows schilling for one candidate without revealing any ties is smarmy-so it is something I could see Dick Morris doing.