Mike Huckabee Shill Dick Morris May be on Payroll
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.