When you’re a liberal in the field dominated by liberals, you don’t have to worry about losing your job because you ticked off the wrong conservatives; you’re under a sweet umbrella of protection from your fellow leftists. But if you’re a steadfast liberal in an age where woke, SJW, socialist-style leftism is coming in to replace your old style of liberalism…well, then you might be in trouble. This is the situation MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is facing right now.
The host of the nightly “Hardball” program, Matthews has made no secret of the fact that he dreads of the rise of socialist Bernie Sanders to the top of the Democratic Party. He’s compared his supporters to the Nazi brownshirts, and he compared Bernie’s Nevada victory to Hitler’s forces taking France during World War II. These positions have made him extremely unpopular among the woke left, leaving Matthews with little protection from the forces that might wish to cancel him.
Those forces came for his job this weekend when journalist Laura Bassett called Matthews out for sexist remarks he’s made in the past. In an op-ed for GQ, Bassett said that when she appeared with Matthews on his show in 2017, the host made her feel uncomfortable with his advances.
“In 2016, right before I had to go on his show and talk about sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump, Matthews looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?’” Bassett wrote. “When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the makeup artist. ‘Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.’
“Five minutes later, I was sitting next to him on the set, under bright lights, with a microphone clipped to my shirt and three cameras pointed at me,” Bassett continued. “He asked me questions about sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump, and I had to look him in the eyes as I responded. I stumbled over my answers and forgot basic vocabulary words, the uncomfortable moment in the makeup room crowding my mind.”
Bassett first wrote about her experiences with Matthews in 2017, but she left his name out of it at the time. Nonetheless, she said, “dozens of people reached out to say they knew exactly who it was.”
Bassett said that Matthews’ on-air remarks were scarcely better than his backstage behavior. She said it was inappropriate for Matthews to interrogate Elizabeth Warren over whether or not Michael Bloomberg’s accusers were telling the truth.
“There is a worthy journalistic line of inquiry Matthews could take about nondisclosure agreements and the role they play in muzzling women and upholding abusive power structures,” Bassett wrote. “Instead of exploring that, Matthews attacked Warren’s clarity on whether she believes another woman’s corroborated testimony.”
In other words, believe women or keep your mouth shut.
It’s annoying to find ourselves in a position to defend someone as banal and annoying as Chris Matthews, and we’re not going to throw our back out trying to do it.
Is he a sexist? Probably. Is this the way you should talk to your female guests backstage? Probably not. But to take this incident and pretend that Matthews is actually guilty of some sort of crime (or that he’s not allowed to question the veracity of sexual harassment allegations) is ridiculous. This is exactly the kind of thing that turns #MeToo into a lame joke.
We won’t cry if Chris Matthews loses his job. But if he loses his job for this reason, that’s pretty stupid.