Chris Matthews is now an ex-TV host. Apparently brought low by his inappropriate comments about female associates on-air and off, he forever will be remembered as the fellow whose leg tingled when he gazed upon President Barack Obama during MSNBC’s coverage of the Democratic presidential primaries in 2008.
Obama, Matthews once proclaimed, was “perfect” and had “done everything right.” On another occasion, he admitted he couldn’t resist Obama’s “Julia Roberts” smile. He swooned over former-President Bill Clinton, too. His admiration verged on idolatry when he compared Clinton’s appearance at the funeral of Coretta Scott King to “Jesus in the temple.” He wasn’t as big a fan of Hillary Clinton.
In 2008, he declared “the reason [Hillary Clinton is] a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a frontrunner is her husband messed around.” Outrage from the National Organization for Women and Hillary’s acolytes compelled him to apologize, but those offended remained on a slow simmer over this and his other snarky comments about Hillary. He once compared her to Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and called her “witchy.”
Oh, Matthews doesn’t like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), either.
Following the February 5 Democratic presidential candidate debate, Matthews suggested that Sanders might have supported Fidel Castro and said if “the Reds had won the Cold War there would have been executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed. And certain other people would be there cheering . . . So, I have a problem with people who take the other side.”
After Sanders won the Nevada caucuses, Matthews compared the victory to the World War II fall of France to Nazi Germany. He apologized for that one, too, but it was clear he was reflecting an antipathy felt by establishment Democrats.
Matthews, however, has been reliable as an attack dog for that party with a long list of anti-conservative insults without need for any public apologies.
At President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Matthews said the president’s speech had a “Hitlerian background” and implied that Trump was similar to Mussolini. He joked that the Italian dictator executed his son-in-law so Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, should be “a little careful.”
Matthews said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had “a troll-like quality,” that he “operates below the level of human life,” reminded him of Joe McCarthy, and was “negative and menacing.” He declared that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich “looks like a car bomber. He’s got that crazy Mephistophelian grin . . . He looks like he loves torturing.”
He referred to Rush Limbaugh as “phone sex for the traveling salesman. Think about it.” On the same day, on another show, he compared Limbaugh to a villain who was killed in a James Bond film. “In the end,” he said, “they jam a CO2 pellet into his head, and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp . . . we’ll be there to watch.” He then added a personal taunt: “Are you watching, Rush?”
Still, all this tilling in the Garden of Liberal Hate wasn’t enough to save Matthews in the Age of #MeToo when he was accused of making unwelcome observations about the attractiveness of women he encountered at work.
Modern sensibilities don’t welcome this. Just ask whoever runs the human resources department at your job, school, etc. They’ve got pamphlets if you have any questions. For a quick look at Matthew’s creepiness, “The Daily Show” put together a few on-air examples in a video entitled “Lookin’ Good! with Chris Matthews.” It’s available on YouTube.
Women—and men—generally enjoy compliments in an appropriate setting where there isn’t a power imbalance. An elder male host of a banner news show, pocketing a much bigger paycheck and able to make or break lesser employees, asking a junior, lesser-paid female reporter to lean into the camera so he and his audience can admire her pretty face, really isn’t OK. “The Daily Show” video opens with such an incident.
Defenders of Matthews contend that he was just admiring female beauty. He respects women, they insist, but his treatment of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin belies this. While Matthews routinely attacks the character of those he dislikes, his disrespect for Palin involved cringe-inducing admiration for her physical appearance and smug contempt. In his mind, it seems “nice-looking woman” plus “conservative political views” must equal “dumb bimbo.” It’s liberal misogyny.
Matthews described Palin’s appearance as: “Primordial. When she walks and moves, there‘s something electric about it . . . she’s constantly in motion. She looks, obviously, very attractive.”
He didn’t like anything else about her. Palin, he said, “doesn’t give a rat’s butt what the facts are . . . she’s almost squirrelly.” While late-night comics mocked Palin with the phony “I can see Russia from my house” phrase and exaggerated her accent, Matthews bluntly labeled her an illiterate imbecile.
During MSNBC’s election night coverage on November 2, 2010, Matthews asked Senator Mark Begich (D-Ark.),
If she were on “Jeopardy” right now and the topic was [sic] national government, American government generally defined, would she look like an imbecile, or would she look OK? Does she know anything? . . . Have you ever been an eyewitness to her actually reading something? Have you seen her—no, I’m dead serious about this. Have you ever seen her reading words on a piece of paper? A newspaper, magazine, anything? Have you ever seen her read something?
Matthews so loved his “Jeopardy” crack that he repeated it in variations on at least three other televised appearances.
In 2012, Matthews himself was a contestant on Jeopardy. He finished dead last, winning just $2,300. Among his mistakes was giving “What is Istanbul?” as the response in the category “6-Letter World Capitals” to the answer, “St. Basil’s Cathedral is there.” The correct response was “Moscow.” It makes one wonder if counting letters is a problem for Democrats, as also evidenced with Biden’s three-letter word: “J-O-B-S!”
In the “Jeopardy” category “Law and Order,” when presented with the answer “In 1986, the Supreme Court ruled that the ‘hostile environment’ type of this can be sex discrimination,” Matthew erroneously responded, “What is a hostile workplace?” The correct response was “What is sexual harassment?”
Maybe Matthews should have ruminated over that after the show.
Some see sinister forces involved in Matthews’ downfall. Kyle Smith opined in the New York Post that after Matthews gave rough treatment to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren, their supporters engineered his destruction using transgressions that would have been forgiven if committed by a liberal in better standing with the new, more radical Democratic Party.
As that party moves further toward radicalism, will other stalwarts be discarded? If they’re lucky, it won’t be with the ignominy Matthews is experiencing.