Women’s rights groups and advocates applauded the resignation of longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews Monday evening as a necessary—if “beyond overdue”—step that came just three days after GQ columnist Laura Bassett accused Matthews demeaning and objectifying her and other women guests during segments and behind the scenes.
“Matthews had no business being on television for
as long as he has been. That was true before Laura Bassett courageously
came forward to share her story, and it remains true to this day.”
—Shaunna Thomas, UltraViolet
“All I gotta say is… it’s about time,” Bassett tweeted after Matthews’ on-air announcement that he was stepping down immediately. “No, I have more to say than that. Since calling out Chris Matthews, this week has been really rough. The harassment has been invasive, cruel and personal. And it’s all worth it if he will never have the platform to demean and objectify us again.”
Shaunna Thomas, co-founder and executive director of UltraViolet, said in a statement that Matthews’ departure “is what needed to happen.”
“For decades, Chris Matthews has used his position to harass women with sexist and predatory comments, while undermining women serving in public office,” said Thomas.
“From his history of sexual misconduct, his refusal to believe and support survivors, and his egregious, sexist behavior,” Thomas added. “Matthews had no business being on television for as long as he has been. That was true before Laura Bassett courageously came forward to share her story, and it remains true to this day.”
Watch Matthews’ announcement:
March 3, 2020
Matthews’ decision to step down came just over a week after the MSNBC host sparked massive backlash by comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) landslide victory in the Nevada Democratic presidential caucus to the Nazi invasion of France, the most extreme of Matthews’ many hysterical attacks on the Sanders campaign. Matthews also came under fire for casting doubt on sexual harrassment allegations leveled against billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg.
MSNBC did not feature Matthews in its coverage of the South Carolina Democratic primary Saturday night, 24 hours after Bassett wrote a column for GQ detailing her personal experience with the prominent host.
“In 2017, I wrote a personal essay about a much older, married cable-news host who inappropriately flirted with me in the makeup room a few times before we went live on his show, making me noticeably uncomfortable on air,” Bassett wrote. “I was afraid to name him at the time for fear of retaliation from the network; I’m not anymore. It was Chris Matthews.”
“He has a decades-long history of misogyny—on and
off the air—and even openly bragged about whether women measured up to
his ‘Chris Matthews test’ of women’s attractiveness.”
—Julie Millican, Media Matters for America
“In 2016, right before I had to go on his show and talk about sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump,” Bassett added, “Matthews looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?”
Matthews alluded to Bassett’s column in his announcement Monday night. “Compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were ok are never OK,” Matthews said. “Not then, and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”
Julie Millican, vice president at Media Matters for America, said in a statement that MSNBC “should be ashamed to have propped up this man for so long.”
“He has a decades-long history of misogyny—on and off the air—and even openly bragged about whether women measured up to his ‘Chris Matthews test’ of women’s attractiveness,” said Millican. “He spoke derisively of female politicians, complaining about their voices and diminishing their accomplishments.”
“Despite all of this,” Millican added, “MSNBC continued to give Matthews a powerful platform on the network, making him a feature of their political commentary and a staple of their election coverage. No matter how the decision was made for Matthews to exit, the fact remains that MSNBC turned a blind eye to his sexist, misogynistic, and offensive behavior for years.”
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