MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Paid Hush Money to Silence Allegations of Sexual Harassment

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews,” attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington, D.C. Hilton — April 25, 2015. (Teresa Kroeger / Getty Images)

Chris Matthews — the 20-year veteran of MSNBC’s primetime line-up and proud, pro-Iran Deal, Trump-loathing champion of women’s rights — has now been revealed to have paid hush money to a female staffer who had accused him of sexual impropriety.

As The Daily Caller reported Saturday evening, a spokesman for MSNBC confirmed suspicions that the network had made a payment to a former staff member upon her departure on account of complaints she had lodged with executives concerning lewd comments Matthews had made to her.

Two anonymous sources told The Daily Caller that in 1999 Matthews had paid a settlement package of $40,000 to a female staffer, who at the time was an assistant producer on his nightly program Hardball with Chris Matthews, which then aired on CNBC. Though the MSNBC spokesman admitted to the circumstances of the staffer’s departure from the network, he contended that the sum of the settlement had been far less than the two anonymous sources claimed.

The Caller article detailed that

The woman complained to CNBC executives about Matthews making inappropriate comments and jokes about her while in the company of others.

The MSNBC spokesman said that they thoroughly reviewed the situation at the time and that Matthews received a formal reprimand. Based on people who were involved in matter, the network concluded that the comments were inappropriate and juvenile but were not intended to be taken as propositions.

The woman received separation-related compensation when she left MSNBC and has gone on to work in a number of high-profile media positions. MSNBC declined to comment on whether the employee left because of Matthews or whether this was the only claim in Matthews’ history at the company.

Though the unearthing of sexual allegations against Matthews may surprise some, this is not the first time his behavior towards and rhetoric regarding women has raised concerns.

Among the most passionately derisive comments have been towards outspoken conservative women.

On February 9, 2010, Matthews accused 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin of having “nothing going on mentally” and being an “empty vessel.” The poetic comments were made during a panel which included now-disgraced sexual predator Mark Halperin. The imagination also needn’t wander too far to envision how a conservative host would be received if such on-air insults had been leveled against Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hillary Clinton, or any other leftist heroine.

Nine months later, during MSNBC’s coverage of the 2010 mid-term elections on November 2, Matthews crassly asked triumphant Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann, “Are you hypnotized tonight?”, when she did not give him the answer he wanted, to the guffaws of his male colleagues. (His co-anchors that night included former MSNBC host and knightly defender of women Keith Olbermann, who himself was thoroughly exposed four years earlier as a lurid sexual predator himself.)

The relative obscurity of these incidents may result from MSNBC and Hardball’s generally abysmal ratings performance up until the first quarter of 2017; but the invisibility cloak of media failure has not prevented others — especially enraged liberals — from publishing them.

The site Variety (one of the outlets which broke disturbing details of Matt Lauer’s now-infamous firing from NBC) has published an article containing a detailed list of nine occasions on which Matthews made misogynistic or sexually disrespectful comments towards women over the course of eleven years. The most recent and humiliating incident took place on May 3, 2016, when candidate Donald Trump won the Indiana primary, becoming the de facto Republican presidential nominee.

As Trump approached the podium to give his victory speech that evening, his family followed him onto the stage, including his wife Melania, a former model.

“Look at the way she walks. Did you see her walk? That’s runway walk. My God is that good,” Matthews murmured to himself over the live footage as his microphone recorded his words, “I could watch that runway show.”

Matthews’ sexist and sexually-aroused ramblings have not only been reserved for conservative women. On August 10, 2007, he asked Erin Burnett, now a host on CNN, to assist with his efforts at leering at her.

“Could you get a little closer to the camera? Come on in closer,” he said. “No, come in — come in further — come in closer. Really close,” Matthews directed. As Burnett edged towards the camera, Matthews shouted, “Just kidding! You look great! Anyway, thanks. Erin, it’s great to — look at that look! You’re great. You’re beautiful. I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. You’re a knockout.”

Matthews’ long history of sexist comments and inappropriate on-air antics had also been richly documented years earlier in rare moments of honesty by generally radical leftist sites such as The Daily Kos and The Guardian.

Such exhaustive coverage is proof of many liberals’ disgust with Matthews’ behavior — but why were NBC executives not among those publicly disgusted?

Surrounded by literate individuals with access to Google, why was this plethora of stories — adding up to the sum total of a genuinely boorish misogynist — kept from Matthews’ employers, and if not, why did they not act upon them at this time of growing thirst for predators’ blood?

Perhaps the answer lies in the ratings. FOX and Sean Hannity emerged victorious in 2017’s third ratings quarter. Did NBC decide long ago that competing against FOX’s domination of the cable ratings arena was worth more to them than cracking down on a mediocre host’s sexual behavior?

If “everybody knew” about Matt Lauer’s monstrous sexual exploits and he was only fired in November of 2017, then why has no action been taken against Matthews, when not only does he work in the same building, but his behavior was public and published?

In that case, media executives would seem to have a high tolerance for sexual misconduct within their own organizations, all the while their esteemed hosts are decrying President Trump and others for their own.

Perhaps MSNBC will decide whether or not to uphold its traditional double standard in the future.

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