By David Futrelle
Chris Matthews’ abrupt on-air resignation from his MSNBC show Hardball on Monday caught a lot of people off guard, none more so than the network’s go-to political numbers guy Steve Kornacki, who found himself with nearly an hour of live television to fill after Matthews walked off the set. (He got through it.)
Matthews’ passive aggressive resignation speech made it pretty clear that he had been pushed out (a fact that’s now been confirmed) While offering a sort of apology for some of the behavior that got him in trouble with both women viewers and network brass, his weirdly defensive language and the tone of his remarks both made clear he still didn’t quite understand the complaints against him. He said the right words, or something close to them, but it’s clear he wasn’t feeling the music.
“Compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were okay, were never okay,” Matthews begrudgingly acknowledged. “Not then, and certainly not today—and for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”
That’s what you’re calling them, “compliments?”
Matthews, a man with almost no filter, has been talking about women’s looks on his show for decades now — mostly gushing over the “beauty” of guests and fellow journalists who appeal to his own personal boner, but sometimes (as in the case of Ann Coulter) putting them down.
The Daily Show gathered together some of his, er, greatest hits here.
For many, many more examples, see here.
Matthews’ comments in private seem to have been even worse. Way back in 1999, NBC paid out $40,000 in a settlement with a woman who had accused him of sexual harassment. Last week, journalist Laura Bassett wrote about Matthews allegedly creeping on her backstage in a piece for GQ. Who knows how many more women have similar stories.
But Matthews misogyny extended way beyond “compliments” on air and off. His commentary on female politicians and other public figures was tinged with sexism and often outright hostility — describing Hillary Clinton, one of his bete noires, as “witchy” and “anti-male.” For examples, see this Media Matters piece by Jamison Foser, who ultimately concluded that
Chris Matthews has been treating female guests as sexual objects for years. He has been judging women — senators, presidential candidates, the speaker of the House — on their clothes and their voices and their appearance for years. He has been referring to women as “castrating” for years. He has been applying double standards to male and female candidates for years.
This was written back in 2008, by the way, and it’s still as true now as it was then.
Despite this long and hardly secret history, some have been defending Matthews and decrying his forced resignation. Kornacki, even thought he was the one left holding the bag for Matthews after his sudden departure, offered his former colleague a glowing tribute on air. On Twitter, Matthews has been defended by fellow MCNBCers Joy Reid, Nicole Wallace, Andrea Mitchell and Morning Joe’s Joe Scarbourgh and Mika Brzezinski. Columnist Kathleen Parker offered this hot take:
One person’s innocent flirtation is another’s sexual harassment. That’s why you’re not supposed to pull this shit at work — a lesson Matthews somehow failed to learn despite having been called out for this behavior for more than two decades.
It’s good he’s out. I just never thought I’d see it.
Send tips to dfutrelle at gmail dot com.
We Hunted the Mammoth relies entirely on readers like you for its survival. If you appreciate our work, please send a few bucks our way! Thanks!