Dick Morris Takes Aim at Hillary Clinton From a Tabloid Perch


In a zigzag career, Mr. Morris has had many highs and lows and reboots. In recent years, he has had many foreign clients, including the nationalist Viktor Orban, the prime minister of Hungary; in 2002 and 2004, he did media strategy in Britain for the party of Nigel Farage, a cheerleader for the so-called Brexit.

Mr. Morris has made a living denouncing Bill and Hillary Clinton in books, columns, blogs and television appearances. In a video on his website, Mr. Morris argues that Mrs. Clinton’s email scandal still has legs, saying “Indict Hillary for lying to Congress!”

His latest book about her foe in the presidential election, Donald J. Trump, “Armageddon: How Trump Can Beat Hillary,” is scathing. If Mrs. Clinton is elected, it would mean “the end of the America we know and love,” Mr. Morris writes.

Even now, when he is at the margin of politics, Mr. Morris is one of the more colorful characters in commentary land, a fervent self-promoter with formidable energy and considerable charm, a lighthearted Cassandra who weaves dark conspiracy theories and makes long-odds predictions.

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Two decades ago, The Enquirer and its sister publication, The Star, revealed scandals involving Mr. Morris.

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Evan Agostini/Liaison, via Getty Images

Mr. Morris for a while thought Ted Cruz would bag the nomination (his book’s subtitle was originally “How Ted Cruz or Donald Trump Can Beat Hillary”), and he admits he didn’t foresee the Trump surge.

“Trump represents a primal force in politics that neither I nor any other political consultant understood,” Mr. Morris said in a phone interview

Asked if Mr. Trump had hired him, he replied, “I don’t work for any campaign, but I am constantly sending ideas and thoughts to Trump and his people.”

Mr. Morris has been astute about many elections, but he was famously wrong about Mitt Romney on Fox News. After he predicted on the eve of the 2012 election a landslide victory for the former governor of Massachusetts, Fox did not renew his contract.

At the moment, The National Enquirer provides Mr. Morris with a more welcoming perch. “Not only is Dick our first political columnist, but he is the only one we could have turned to for such a role,” Dylan Howard, the editor of The National Enquirer, said in an email. “He knows where the bodies are buried.”

The headline to Mr. Morris’s June 27 column read, “HOW CROOKED FIRST LADY ESCAPED JUSTICE!” The next week, in a column entitled, “Hill & Bill, THE WORST SHAM MARRIAGE EVER!,” Mr. Morris reported that in 2012, “they were together less than one quarter of the time!”

David Pecker, the head of American Media, which owns The Star and The National Enquirer, is a friend and supporter of Mr. Trump, so perhaps not so shockingly a recent Enquirer headline screamed: “JOHN F. KENNEDY’S SECRET SON ENDORSES DONALD TRUMP!”

The National Enquirer may seem an unlikely workplace for a globe-trotting consultant who lives in a wealthy suburb outside Manhattan, went to Columbia University (class of ’67) and speaks French.

But Mr. Morris said the tabloid is a great platform to reach the masses. “I love it: I believe politics is increasingly not left versus right, but insider versus outsider,” he said. “The Enquirer gives me a marvelous opportunity to speak to that newly emerging force.”

Mr. Morris, who was an insider before he was an outsider, said he didn’t know that the newsstand price is $5, admitting he has never bought The National Enquirer, but saying he reads it online.

Compared with the tabloid’s news reports, Mr. Morris’s column seems almost tame.

While he writes about Mrs. Clinton’s hiring detectives to dig up dirt on her husband’s affairs, an adjacent “news” article suggests that she may have hired a hit man to have another woman killed.

That is one conspiracy that even Mr. Morris doesn’t subscribe to. “I don’t know anything about that,” he said.

Mr. Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann, had been married almost 20 years when his scandal broke. Ms. McGann, a lawyer, stood by him in the immediate aftermath and even posed at his side for a damage-control Time cover story. A few months later, Ms. McGann announced that she would seek a divorce; instead, the couple reconciled and began a long collaboration on articles, blogs and books.

“We are constantly talking about politics,” Mr. Morris said. “As we talk back and forth, it’s like attaching a hose to a spigot that’s flowing anyway.”

Many of their books have apocalyptic titles: “Outrage,” “Catastrophe” and “Here Come the Black Helicopters!” They have also written three children’s books about their late dog, Dubs, a patriot who takes on enemies like Fido Castro and Vladimir Poodle.

Mr. Morris takes pride in what he says is an insider’s view of the Clinton marriage, which he analyzes with Gail Sheehy-like intimacy. He calls Mrs. Clinton an “enabler,” likening the former first lady to battered women who stay in abusive marriages.

“They put up with the abuse because of the rewards they get when it is over,” Mr. Morris said. “Hillary always wanted more of Bill’s time and attention; by putting up with his behavior, she got more of his attention than she would normally get and more power than she would normally get.”

Some psychologists may quibble with his description of why women put up with domestic abuse; others may wonder if projection plays a role in the couple’s hostility to the Clinton marriage. Ms. McGann, after all, forgave her husband’s trespasses and is now constantly at his side.

She declined to discuss the decades-old scandal, dismissing any parallel between the Clintons’ marriage and her own. She noted that she didn’t deal with the scandal “by lying about it and attacking the women.”

And it’s the cover-up as much as the crime that seems to goad Mr. Morris and his wife. Their books and articles focus on the Clintons’ denials, deceit and what they see as their behind-the-scenes efforts to discredit the women who said they had sexual relationships with Mr. Clinton.

David Brock, formerly a conservative journalist, is the bizarro version of Mr. Morris — he wrote an unflattering biography of Mrs. Clinton, later recanted, and now runs a PAC that counters attacks on Mrs. Clinton. He said Mr. Morris’s firsthand observations are far from credible. “His experience is 20 years out of date,” Mr. Brock said. “Whatever he knew, he mortgaged long ago.”

There are conservatives who are just as dismissive. “I think mostly people think he’s a charlatan and self-promoter (though an intelligent one),” is how William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, described Mr. Morris in an email. “Perfect for the age of Trump!”

There are plenty of former colleagues, especially overseas, who speak highly of Mr. Morris. Fredo Arias-King, a campaign aide to former President Vicente Fox of Mexico, recalled that Mr. Morris was brought into Mr. Fox’s 2000 presidential campaign in secret, so as to not rile nationalist pride, and masterminded a victory.

Mr. Arias-King remains friendly with Mr. Morris but was taken aback when informed of Mr. Morris’s new job.

“The Enquirer? You mean the one with the aliens?” he said, startled.

There was a pause.

“Well, we don’t know what Dick is thinking,” Mr. Arias-King said. “This could be marketing brilliance.”

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