Earlier this week, Chris Matthews announced on his MSNBC show “Hardball” that he was quitting. He then walked off the set. Later, we learned that the network forced him to resign.
Why? One explanation is that Matthews made female guests on his show and some female employees “uncomfortable” with sex-charged banter. But reportedly, Matthews has been doing this forever.
It’s true that an obscure journalist recently called Matthews out for his comments in an article for GQ. “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” is an example. But these types of remark, though boorish, aren’t the stuff of firings. Surely, there is more to Matthews’s discharge than this.
The “more,” I think, is the fact that Matthews offended supporters of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Barack Obama may have sent a thrill up Matthews’s leg, but the two elderly far leftists running this year don’t. Matthews, I gather, is something of a traditional liberal, and thus at odds with MSNBC’s core viewership.
Matthews got on the wrong side of Warren’s supporters by daring to inquire of her why she believes the allegation that Michael Bloomberg said to a pregnant woman “kill it,” meaning the unborn baby. He asked Warren:
Do you really think Bloomberg is lying? Why would he do such a thing?
The best Warren could do was to say that she believes the accuser and that pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is a real thing. Yes, it is at some workplaces. But a federal court found that there was no systemic pregnancy discrimination at Bloomberg’s company.
If Warren knew the facts better, she might have pointed out that a male Bloomberg employee has said he overheard the conversation in question, that Bloomberg’s behavior was “outrageous,” and that he understood why the pregnant female took offense. However, I have seen no reporting that this employee heard Bloomberg say “kill it.” And who knows what this particular guy considers “outrageous”?
Thus, the woman’s “kill it” allegation remains a case of “she said, he said,” and it was perfectly reasonable for Matthews to press Warren as to why she believes Bloomberg’s accuser.
In the case of Sanders, Matthews compared the Vermont socialist’s victory in Nevada to the Nazi invasion of France. No reasonable person would think that Matthews was calling Sanders a Nazi. He must have had in mind that Sanders “blitzed” Nevada, figuratively.
Nonetheless, the reference to Nazis was certainly inappropriate. It required an apology, which Matthews delivered.
But let’s not pretend that references to Nazis, even when they are meant to suggest that someone is Nazi-like, are firing offenses for commentators at leftist media outlets like MSNBC. They are only firing offenses if directed at leftists. If directed President Trump’s way, there’s no problem.
Matthews’s offense wasn’t what he said. It was the person he said it about.
I won’t miss Chris Matthews. I liked his show when it first aired all those years ago, but eventually grew tired of the blustery host. It’s been at least ten years since I watched “Hardball.”
It’s important, however, to understand why Matthews was let go. I’m pretty sure he was let go because aspects of his politics and his taste in politicians aren’t sufficiently in tune with those of the hard left.