On his Monday night show, Matthews said that he had “reached for a historical analogy and used a bad one.”
“I was wrong to refer to an event from the last days, or actually the first days, of World War II,” Matthews said. “Senator Sanders, I’m sorry for comparing anything from that tragic era, in which so many suffered, especially the Jewish people, to an electoral result in which you were the well-deserved winner.”
The host then said he’d “strive to do a better job” in the future and congratulated Sanders, who is running for president, on his win Saturday in Nevada.
Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement that they “appreciate some of the steps MSNBC has taken, and we hope to get fairer coverage going forward.”
On Saturday, as results began to show a Sanders victory in the Nevada caucuses, Matthews discussed the results live with fellow host Brian Williams and said that given the results so far, it appeared “pretty much over.” He then said that he’d been reading about the fall of France in 1940 and recounted how a French general apparently called British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and said, “It’s over” for France.
“And Churchill says, ‘How can it be? You got the greatest army in Europe. How could it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.’ So I had that suppressed feeling,” Matthews said.
In response to Matthews’ remarks Saturday, Sanders’ spokesman Mike Casca had tweeted: “never thought part of my job would be pleading with a national news network to stop likening the campaign of a jewish presidential candidate whose family was wiped out by the nazis to the third reich. but here we are.”
Similarly, earlier this month, ahead of the New Hampshire primary, MSNBC host Chuck Todd read out a quote from an article that compared supporters of Sanders, who is Jewish, to a “digital brown shirt brigade,” a reference to Nazis. The Anti-Defamation League responded by urging pundits to “refrain from using offensive comparisons to the Holocaust.”
Sanders is leading in early national polls of the Democratic primary just days before the South Carolina primary and Super Tuesday.