Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business

Off with Their Heads: Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business

by Dick Morris

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What happened to the unity that so blessed America after 9/11? Where did our sense of determination go?

Our political, journalistic, and cultural leaders have mounted a campaign to oppose and impede the war on terror that seemed so vital in that rare moment of clarity. This book is my personal cri du coeur about deception in politics,


What happened to the unity that so blessed America after 9/11? Where did our sense of determination go?

Our political, journalistic, and cultural leaders have mounted a campaign to oppose and impede the war on terror that seemed so vital in that rare moment of clarity. This book is my personal cri du coeur about deception in politics, journalism, and business—especially when it stops us from following through on the work 9/11 has left for us all to do.

This book takes on some pretty sacred cows, but it's about time they became fair game.

—from the Introduction

Are you appalled by the antiwar tone the news media has taken since the war on terror began—especially "objective" news outlets like the New York Times and the network news?

Are you wondering when liberal celebrities like Barbara Streisand, Sean Penn, and Susan Sarandon suddenly became geopolitical oracles whose advice we're supposed to value above the wisdom of tenured experts?

Are you at a loss to decide who has betrayed us more outrageously: the French who abandoned us in our time of need, or our own elected officials, who tapped our 401(k) savings and the tobacco-settlement windfall with equal abandon?

In Off with Their Heads, syndicated columnist and Fox News Cannel political analyst Dick Morris points an accusing finger at the many ways the public has been lied to and misled, pickpocketed and endangered. Whether it's Bill Clinton, who ignored mounting evidence of impending terrorist catastrophe throughout the 1990s, or the members of Congress, who quietly sold our democracy down the river in exchange for lifetime incumbency, Morris rips the cover off the cowardly and duplicitous figures who have sacrificed America's interests for their own.

From private corruption to public treachery, even longtime political buffs will marvel at the astonishing behavior Morris reveals at every level of society—and at how it threatens to compromise the American way of life.

Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
It's this last venture that turned my thoughts to blogging. Off With Their Heads is a collection of essays focused on various political outrages, some real and some that exist largely in Morris's head. The only mortar holding these bricks together is Morris's periodic repetition of the Queen of Hearts' favorite command in Alice in Wonderland ("Off with their heads!"), always rendered IN CAPITAL LETTERS to emphasize that the outrage in question should make you REALLY ANGRY. Off With Their Heads is scarcely a book in the traditional sense at all. It represents, perhaps, a new kind of hybrid: the blook. — Timothy Noah
Publishers Weekly
Morris is mad as hell: liberals, led by the New York Times (which is as biased as Radio Moscow, he says), are trying to prevent the Bush administration from effectively fighting the war on terror. Morris's targets are broad, his charges simplistic: the Times, under the now-departed Howell Raines, slanted coverage, spouting left-wing "propaganda," moaning about civil liberties and the economy in order to distract Americans from the main event. Bill Clinton "just didn't get" the terrorism problem and never took Morris's sage advice about it; worse, Morris charges, he deliberately failed to take action against al-Qaida out of political self-interest. As for the denizens of the "rogue state of Hollywood," "barely educated" celebrities should keep their mouths shut, and the French are appeasement-loving backstabbers. A tone of hysteria reigns throughout, and Morris's arguments have some logical gaps. After pages and pages demonstrating how the Times manipulates poll results, polls subsequently cited in support of Morris's ideas can only be viewed with skepticism. Writing of "Hollywood apologists," he lumps together all antiwar voices, from Barbra Streisand to Noam Chomsky, and engages in needless ridicule. And while taking on various antiwar arguments, Morris doesn't address religious pacifism: he mocks Richard Gere without acknowledging his Buddhist beliefs. The book finally loses all focus in its final chapters, as Morris takes potshots at Congress, the tobacco industry and nursing-home managers, straining to equate them all with terrorists as "evildoers" threatening our democracy. Morris would have done better to either stick to the single issue of terrorism or take time to develop a more comprehensive line of reasoning. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Paperback Edition
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

Off with Their Heads

Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists in American Politics, Media & Business
By Dick Morris

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Dick Morris
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060559284

Chapter One

The New New York Times: All The News That Fits, They Print

There is a new New York Times. Howell Raines's New York Times. No longer content to report the news, he admits to "flooding the zone" - and floods it with stories that carry forward his personal crusades and the paper's editorial views. And the Times doesn't stop at slanting the news; it also weights its polls. The surveys the newspaper takes regularly are biased to give more strength to Democratic and liberal opinions and less to those of the rest of us.

The newspaper has become like a political consulting firm for the Democratic Party. Under Raines, it is squandering the unparalleled credibility it has amassed over the past century in order to articulate and advance its own political and ideological agenda. For decades, the Times was the one newspaper so respected for its integrity and so widely read that it had influence well beyond its circulation. Now it has stooped to the role of partisan cheerleader, sending messages of dissent, and fanning the flames of disagreement on the left. Each month brings a new left party line from the paper, setting the tone for the government's loyal opposition.

Reading the New York Times these days is like listening to Radio Moscow. Not that it's communist, of course, but it has become almost as biased as the former Soviet news organ that religiously spewed the party line. Just as Russians did under Soviet rule, you now need to read "between the lines" to distinguish what's really happening from what is just New York Times propaganda.

I have read the New York Times for forty-four years. When I was growing up, my parents read it every morning and the New York Post every afternoon. I still read them both every day. The Times is a New York institution to me, as much a symbol of my hometown as the Yankees, the subway, Central Park, and, yes, the World Trade Center. I think many Americans must share my feelings today: To see it fall into the hands of propagandists, after so many years of dignity and balance, is like watching your father get drunk.

Like every newspaper, the Times rightfully uses its editorial and op-ed pages to articulate its ideas and opinions. But, since the ascension of Howell Raines to the post of managing editor, the newspaper has gone much, much further to push its political perspective. As journalist Ken Auletta pointed out in a masterful profile in The New Yorker, Raines is overt about his desire that "the masthead" (the managing editor, his deputy, and the assistant managing editors) "be more engaged in shaping stories and coordinating news coverage."

Acting like the chief campaign strategist for the left, the Times generally conducts six to eight public opinion polls each year. But lately the Times seems to me to be deliberately misinterpreting and weighting its data to suggest that its liberal ideas have a popularity they don't actually enjoy. The polling seems to have one major purpose - to help the Democratic Party set its agenda, encouraging it to embrace the Times's own liberalism on a host of issues. Then, from editorials to op-ed articles and a blizzard of front-page stories, the newspaper relentlessly expounds its views, doing its best to create a national firestorm on the issues it chooses to push.

Jack Shafer, the media critic for the on-line magazine Slate, described the new policy to Newsweek on December 9, 2002: "The Times has assumed the journalistic role as the party of opposition" to the current Bush administration. According to Newsweek, "many people around the country are noticing a change in the way the Old Gray Lady [the Times's pet name] covers any number of issues. . . ." The magazine pointed out how Raines believes in "flooding the zone - using all the paper's formidable resources to pound away on a story."

Other newspapers often try to do the same thing. What is unique about the Times's approach is the sharp departure it represents from the paper's past. Long priding itself on objectivity, political neutrality, and even reserve in reporting news, the Times is renowned as our nation's primary voice of objective authority. As such, it occupies a unique place in our national iconography. But Alex Jones, author of The Trust, a book about the Times, describes the Times's latter-day style of news coverage as "certainly a shift from the New York Times as the 'paper of record.' "

And yet millions of us still rely on the New York Times. It is still the most comprehensive source of news and information about what is going on in the world. It is precisely because it is so important that the bias that increasingly dominates its coverage of news is so disturbing. It's a little like finding propaganda in the World Almanac - the place you want to go to get the facts and only the facts. If we cannot depend on the Times to tell us fairly, accurately, and dispassionately what is going on, where are we supposed to turn? Will news reading become a task in which we must read four or five partisan sources and average them to get the truth? Is it really worth subverting an institution like the New York Times just to score political points?

Every day's front page is such a mix of hype, hyperbole, and, often, hypocrisy that it takes an expert to sort it out.

While most nations have their national newspapers, American newspapers, with the exception of USA Today and the Wall Street Journal, are all local in orientation. The New York Times, however, leads a double life - as the most widely read newspaper in the nation's largest city and the most authoritative voice on national news. Seen as a national tower of rectitude, the Times has always enjoyed universal respect for its even-handed impartiality. So it's not surprising that the impact of this Times propaganda offensive was far more widespread than its daily circulation of 1.1 million would suggest. Not only do most opinion leaders in America read the newspaper itself, but the New York Times News Service - the paper's equivalent of the Associated Press - sends stories to scores of other daily papers around the country. In addition, its stories are reprinted in the International Herald Tribune and disseminated in every major city in the world, and, of course, are available on the Internet.

Beyond the nominal reach of the paper and its wire service, however, the themes set in the New York Times are crucial in shaping trends in journalism throughout almost every paper in the nation. During my time in the Clinton White House, I tracked carefully the themes that were covered on the front pages of twenty newspapers in swing states throughout the nation. Each week my staff detailed the topics covered in such diverse dailies as the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, San Francisco Examiner, Miami Herald, and other pivotal papers in key states. In addition, we evaluated the number of minutes each of the three networks devoted to each news topic.

That ongoing survey revealed just how closely the themes covered in print and on TV tracked those first articulated on the front page of the New York Times. When the Times spoke, ripples seemed to flow out from the initial news splash it made, touching scores of other, more local, news organs.

Excerpted from Off with Their Heads by Dick Morris Copyright © 2003 by Dick Morris
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Dick Morris served as Bill Clinton's political consultant for twenty years. A regular political commentator on Fox News, he is the author of ten New York Times bestsellers (all with Eileen McGann) and one Washington Post bestseller.

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