MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews announced on Monday he will be stepping down after nearly 20 years with the network.
Media outlets noted Matthews’s long career included his coverage of a number of presidents, as well as “watershed events like Sept. 11 2001 and the 2003 Iraq War.”
The resignation follows recent controversies.
The Hardball host found himself in hot water when he likened Bernie Sanders’s Nevada win to the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War. Days later, a GQ article accused Matthews of routinely making inappropriate comments about women, and objectifying them in the workplace.
The bombshell GQ article, written by ex-MSNBC guest Laura Bassett, claims Matthews had a history of sexist comments and misogynist behavior.
According to Bassett, Matthews frequently commented on the physical appearances of women. He would also, allegedly, flirt with them off-air. Matthews had a number of uncomfortable on-air incidents, too.
While on with Erin Burnett, Matthews told her to move closer to the camera saying, “You’re a knockout… it’s all right getting bad news from you.”
Bassett reports that in 2005, Matthews questioned “whether troops would take orders from a female president.”
Recently, the news veteran came under fire for an exchange with current presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. In the interview, Matthews asked Senator Warren why Bloomberg would lie about telling his pregnant employee to “kill it” later saying to Warren, “I just want to make sure you’re clear about this.”
Matthews’s comments were unquestionably awkward and may well qualify as workplace harassment. Nonetheless, the standard applied to Matthews certainly doesn’t apply to everyone.
If we are to hold people to a high standard on matters such as this, it would help if the rules were consistent. But they’re not.
They appear to be a sliding scale, or a subjective set of ever-changing rules only applied to those deemed ready to be put out to pasture.
In an interview with one of Bill Cosby’s rape accusers, CNN nighttime host Don Lemon told the victim, “You know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it,” and later suggested “the using of the teeth… as a weapon.”
CNN’s Don Lemon has in fact been accused of sexual assault himself. Lemon and the network both categorically deny these allegations.
In a later interview with presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway, Lemon’s colleague, Wolf Blitzer said, “I don’t want to talk about your marriage, I know there are issues there.” Kellyanne immediately shot back at Blitzer for making such public allegations.
If the media wants to commit to protecting women from harassment in the workplace, they’d be better served following a clear-cut standard. Perhaps members of the mainstream media are too busy wining and dining the likes of Katie Hill to notice.