Just three days after a renewed allegation of sexist behavior was published by GQ magazine, Chris Matthews announced his resignation from the network on air today. Matthews reference the allegations saying, “Compliments on a women’s appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were okay were never okay.” He continued, “Not then and certainly not today and for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”
Friday, GQ published a piece by freelance journalist Laura Bassett. Bassett had previously made some of the accusations back in 2017 but at the time didn’t name the person she was writing about. In the GQ piece, she made clear that person was Chris Matthews:
In 2017, I wrote a personal essay about a much older, married cable-news host who inappropriately flirted with me in the makeup room a few times before we went live on his show, making me noticeably uncomfortable on air. I was afraid to name him at the time for fear of retaliation from the network; I’m not anymore. It was Chris Matthews. In 2016, right before I had to go on his show and talk about sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump, Matthews looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?”
When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the makeup artist. “Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.”
Another time, he stood between me and the mirror and complimented the red dress I was wearing for the segment. “You going out tonight?” he asked.
I said I didn’t know, and he said—again to the makeup artist—“Make sure you wipe this off her face after the show. We don’t make her up so some guy at a bar can look at her like this.”
That sound fairly mild, but Bassett connects it to a long history of comments Matthews has made about women’s appearance both on air and off. Last week the Daily Show put together a supercut called “Lookin’ Good! with Uncle Chris.”
There have also been a couple of specific instances which have outraged the left in the past two weeks. One was his questioning of Elizabeth Warren over Mike Bloomberg denying he told a pregnant woman to get an abortion.
Chris Matthews demands to know why Warren believes the woman who accused Bloomberg of telling her to “kill” her unborn child: “You’re confident of your accusation?” pic.twitter.com/sroztgr9kB
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) February 26, 2020
That exchange prompted the head of women’s advocacy group UltraViolet, to call for Matthews to be fired:
Matthews’ refusal to believe women, and history of sexual harassment, make it clear that he is not fit to continue to cover this election. MSNBC can and must do better, and they can start by firing Chris Matthews. (2/5)
— Shaunna Thomas (@SLThomas) February 26, 2020
But the misfire that really got the ball rolling on Matthews’ retirement happened a few days earlier. Matthews compared Sanders win in Nevada to the Nazis taking over France. Here’s how Bernie’s communications director responded to that:
never thought part of my job would be pleading with a national news network to stop likening the campaign of a jewish presidential candidate whose family was wiped out by the nazis to the third reich.
but here we are. https://t.co/2G1bqZ6bkI
— mike casca (@cascamike) February 22, 2020
Matthews offered an on-air apology for that bit of free association, but looking back it was the beginning of the end. After those comments, he lasted nine days. Here’s his announcement that tonight will be his final appearance on the network.
— Hardball (@hardball) March 3, 2020
Finally, here’s Laura Bassett’s reaction:
All I gotta say is… it’s about time.
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) March 3, 2020
Update: This popped up as I was writing this. At least one source said the resignation was actually a firing.
New reporting: Chris Matthews was told by MSNBC management to step down, per a person with knowledge of the situation, who called it a firing masked as a retirement announcement. A different source disputed this: It was “truly a mutual decision.” https://t.co/6Qi14NVetQ
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 3, 2020