Chris Matthews, the longtime host of MSNBC’s Hardball and one of the network’s most senior political analysts, was reportedly nowhere to be seen on the air on Saturday during the important Democratic primary election in South Carolina.
According to The Hill, Matthews’ noticeable absence from MSNBC’s South Carolina coverage may have something to do with the fact that he was accused just one day prior of having a lengthy history of making sexist and otherwise inappropriate comments toward female guests who have appeared on his program.
Interestingly, the sexual harassment accusations came just days after Matthews came under sustained criticism first for comparing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ victory in Nevada to the Nazi army overrunning the French in World War II, as well as for having confused the black Democratic challenger to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) with Graham’s black Republican colleague in the Senate, Tim Scott (R-SC).
The sexism and sexual harassment allegations against Matthews were laid out in an opinion piece for GQ by a journalist named Laura Bassett, who claims to have experienced Matthews’ misogyny on multiple occasions in the past.
In 2017, I wrote about a cable news host being gross and inappropriate with me. I was afraid to name him at the time. I’m not anymore; it was Chris Matthews! And his sexist exchange with Warren this week inspired me to revisit those moments and name him https://t.co/oBWXXJDPhR
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) February 28, 2020
Bassett noted how she had actually written an article about Matthews in 2017 in which she described his sexist conduct without actually naming him, and she claimed to have received dozens of messages from other female journalists who had experienced the same thing and knew exactly about whom she was writing, despite no names having been mentioned.
Bassett further provided a few examples of not only remarks that he had made to her personally but also comments she had seen or heard about him uttering to other female reporters, not to mention his typically demeaning and condescending attitude toward female politicians in general.
“In fact, Matthews’s whole modus operandi seems to be inviting smart women onto his show, flirting with them or otherwise making them uncomfortable before or while the camera rolls, asking them a question on air and then immediately interrupting them to tell them why they’re wrong,” Bassett wrote.
In the end, citing the #MeToo movement and its push for accountability for powerful individuals who use their status as leverage over less powerful individuals, Bassett essentially called for Matthews to be taken off the air and fired by MSNBC.
To be sure, Matthews’ absence from the network’s political coverage of the South Carolina primary on Saturday may be connected to Bassett’s allegations, but it could also be entirely unrelated to the claims she lodged against him.
Indeed, Matthews has been something of a staple for the network as the host of Hardball for the past 20 years, and he has been front and center for major political events for nearly as long.
Only time will tell if the claims about his behavior will be swept under the rug by network executives or Matthews will be held accountable for what — if true — would amount to utterly unacceptable conduct.