“A friend of mine lost his job this week, Chris Matthews, wanted to give him a shout-out because I will miss him and a lot of other people too,” Maher said during his Friday night show. “I thought we would talk about it because it’s about — MSNBC used run this thing, ‘This is who we are.’ Well, I didn’t like who you were this week, and I don’t think a lot of people who work there liked this either. I think this cancel culture is a cancer on progressivism.”
Maher said sarcastically, “I just want to go through some of the horrible things that Chris Matthews did,” citing allegations that the Hardball host made inappropriate comments to a female journalist in 2016.
“He said some things that are kind of creepy to women,” said Maher. “You know...guys are married for a million years, they want to flirt for two seconds. He said to somebody, Laura Bassett, four years ago, she’s in makeup, he said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?’ Yes, it is creepy. She said, ‘I was afraid to name him at the time out of fear of retaliation. I’m not afraid anymore.’ Thank you, Rosa Parks...”
In February, journalist Bassett wrote a story for GQ magazine, alleging that the TV host told her, “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” and “You going out tonight?” when she was a guest on his show in 2016. Bassett also said Matthews remarked to her makeup artist, “Make sure you wipe this off her face after the show. We don’t make her up so some guy at a bar can look at her like this.”
On Monday, Matthews, 74, hinted to the claims during Hardball. “Let me start with my headline tonight. I’m retiring...” he said, then explaining of younger generations, “We see them in politics and the media and fighting for their causes. They are improving the workplace. We’re talking here about better standards then we grew up with, fair standards.”
Matthews added, “A lot of it has to do with how we talk to each other. Compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were OK, were never OK. Not then, and certainly not today, and for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry...”
On Friday night, The Atlantic writer and guest Caitlin Flanagan remarked, “How fragile can one woman be?” and Maher joked, “Is she a compliment victim or a compliment survivor?”
On Saturday, Bassett tweeted, “Hey @billmaher, how’s this for fragile: F**k you.” She added, “People are really outraged that a rich as hell 74-yr-old man had to retire after being called out for 20 years of objectifying women in the workplace? This is not about me, and if your inclination is to attack me, consider putting that energy into therapy or anger management.”
During his show, Maher mentioned other gaffes made by Matthews — in February, he associated the fall of France to Nazi Germany with Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign on television: “I’m reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940, and the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over.’ And Churchill says, ‘How can it be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.’”
Matthews later apologized to Sanders: “....As I watched the one-sided results of Saturday’s Democratic caucus in Nevada, I 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. Sen. 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 a well-deserved winner.”
Maher then commented how Matthews confused two black politicians in February. While interviewing South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, footage of South Carolina senator Tim Scott ran. “I see you standing there next to the guy you’re going to beat maybe,” said Matthews, before he was corrected. “Plainly, he’s a Klansman,” said Maher.
And the Real Time host brought up Matthews’s interview with Senator Elizabeth Warren on allegations that Michael Bloomberg once pressured a pregnant employee to have an abortion. During that show, Matthews pressed Warren on whether or not she believed Bloomberg was lying.
“They said he was mean to her?” Maher said of backlash Matthews received for the interview. “I got fired for what I do on a show called Politically Incorrect. This show was called Hardball!”
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