Matthews’s Sexism Needs to Be Canceled

What the hell was he thinking?

MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews joked about drugging then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before sitting down with her for an interview in early 2016, according to exclusive outtake footage published by New York magazine’s The Cut Friday.

“Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” he asked. The joke was a reference to accusations that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted women.

He laughed while staffers around him prepped for the Jan. 5, 2016, interview at an Iowa fire station during the Democratic primary season.

Matthews also asked before interviewing the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, “Can I have some of the queen’s waters? Precious waters,” according to the outtake footage.

The release of the footage comes as the nation reckons with sexual assault and harassment, with near-daily revelations about men falling from positions of power in entertainment, business, the media and politics.

Matthews has issued a mealy-mouthed apology for his remarks, but that’s not nearly enough. MSNBC needs to push Matthews through the same door it pushed Keith Olbermann through (under far less justifiable circumstances) seven years ago. In any business environment in this country, Matthews’s remark would have led to immediate termination. Why should Matthews be any different?

Of course, this is not the first time Matthews has verbally assaulted Clinton:

Matthews has made denigrating comments about Clinton before, calling her “witchy,” a “she-devil” and “Madame Defarge,” a reference to the villainous character in “A Tale of Two Cities.” In 2005, he questioned whether troops would take orders from her as president. He once pinched her cheek after an interview, and, in 2008 said, “the reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around.” He later apologized.

If MSNBC parted ways with Matthews, it would be poetic justice in light of the Hardball hack’s alleged role in forcing Phil Donahue off the cable channel fifteen years ago. Matthews’s disdain towards Donahue helped to deprive the nation of a much-needed antiwar voice. That’s nearly as shameful as his attacks on Clinton.

Can anyone name any memorable segments on Hardball, any moment when Matthews spoke truth to power? Has Matthews ever delivered any truly high-quality work during his years on the channel? He’s nowhere in the league of Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell or Joy Reid in terms of talent; even Joe Scarborough outpaces him in terms of his ability to create must-see TV, which says something.

One wonders how Matthews feels about his denigration of Clinton; suffice it to say that people wouldn’t be nervous about nuclear obliteration if she was in the White House instead of the bigoted billionaire. If Matthews had any sense of shame, he’d resign from MSNBC. Of course, there is shame associated with Matthews, in the sense that it’s a shame he’s still on the air.

Speaking of media figures responsible for stirring up hatred towards Clinton, it was a quarter-century ago this September that Rupert Murdoch’s daughter got married for the first time. The New York Times wedding-announcements page observed:

Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert Murdoch, the head of the News Corporation, and Anna Murdoch of Beverly Hills, Calif., was married in Los Angeles on Friday to Elkin Kwesi Pianim, a son of A. Kwame and Cornelia Pianim of Accra, Ghana.

The marriage lasted five years, although if I had Rupert Murdoch as my father-in-law I’d want out after five minutes. Yet consider the irony: the daughter of the man who effectively put Donald Trump in the White House was married to the son of a man from one of the countries Trump considers a shithole. Has it dawned on Trump that he has insulted the family of the man who gave him his power?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.