Laura Bassett, a freelance journalist who covers culture and politics, shared details of inappropriate comments and sexist behavior from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews dating back to 2016 in an op-ed for GQ Magazine.
Bassett, a former HuffPost reporter, revealed that Matthews was the unnamed “famous broadcast journalist” she wrote about in a 2017 essay in which she describes how the media figure made suggestive remarks about her looks, asking a makeup artist to keep putting makeup on her so he could “fall in love with her,” as she prepared for an appearance on his show.
“Some of Matthews’s behavior has already been well-documented,” Bassett wrote in GQ, adding that “Matthews has a pattern of making comments about women’s appearances in demeaning ways” both on and off the air.
Bassett said that there is an “open secret” of the host’s off-camera behavior, which “creeps up to the line of sexual harassment without actually crossing it.”
“Many women in politics or media who have interacted with the bombastic host have some kind of story about him making them feel uncomfortable on the job,” she continued. “I have my own.”
MSNBC did not immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment.
Bassett’s GQ column was published after Matthews aggressively confronted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) for bringing up nondisclosure agreements and accusations of misogyny and pregnancy discrimination against her opponent Mike Bloomberg during the Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina.
During the post-debate interview, Matthews asked Warren if she really believed that Bloomberg told a female employee to “kill it” after finding out she was pregnant. In response, Warren said that pregnancy discrimination was a personal topic for her and pointed to the long history of people not believing women who have been harassed, sexually assaulted or abused.
“Well, a pregnant employee sure said that he did,” Warren told the MSNBC host. “Why shouldn’t I believe her?”
Matthews pressed Warren further by asking, “Why would he lie? Just to protect himself?”
To which Warren replied, “Yeah. Why would she lie?”
Bassett opened her op-ed with this exchange between Matthews and Warren to highlight another instance of the host undermining women and defending a man who’s made sexist remarks to accomplished women.
“There was no reason for him to harp on its veracity, except, perhaps, that he himself has made so many sexist comments over the years that he has a vested interest in Bloomberg being let off the hook,” Bassett wrote.
As Bassett noted, Matthews has his own history with inappropriate behavior toward employees at his company. MSNBC confirmed with the Daily Caller that the company paid settlement money to a producer in 1999 after she complained of Matthews making inappropriate jokes about her in front of other employees.
In 2018, New York magazine obtained footage of Matthews making a joke about slipping “Bill Cosby” pills into the water of then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as he prepared for a 2016 interview with her. Matthews apologized for that comment, telling the magazine that it was “terrible” an “made in poor taste.”
Media Matters fellow Matthew Gertz also compiled a list of misogynistic remarks made by Matthews in a 2018 Twitter thread.
Bassett criticized MSNBC for keeping Matthews employed despite his apparent history of inappropriate behavior towards women, calling the decision “downright irresponsible.”