What did Chris Matthews do that was so wrong? | READER COMMENTARY
For The Baltimore Sun|
Mar 11, 2020 | 4:08 PM
I don’t get it. A few days ago, Chris Matthews, host of “Hardball” on MSNBC for 23 years, opened his show by resigning (“Chris Matthews was only part of a much larger failure of cable news in this election year," March 4). This resulted from a comment he made to Laura Bassett, a 2016 guest, while they were in the make-up room prior to the broadcast. What he said to her was, “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” What he did not say was “Only a guy with no taste could ask you out.”
During a remote interview with (at the time) CNBC’s Erin Burnette 13 years ago, he requested she lean forward so he could have a better look at her. She did and, seemingly confused at the request, demurely smiled. He laughed and said, “You look great” and “you’re a knockout.” What he did not say was, “Please lean back so you don’t break the camera lens.”
In 2017, to conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham, he said, "I’ll say it. You’re beautiful, and you’re smart.” Somehow, I can’t imagine that she would have preferred to hear the opposite.
He was never a newscaster. He was an opinionated political pundit, attacking from the left. His counterpoint from the right is Fox’s Sean Hannity who unfailingly continues nightly to smack every little boy along the parade route who points out that the emperor has no clothes. Think Sean Hannity’s resigning any time soon?
Mr. Matthews is not a rapist like Harvey Weinstein or a pedophile like the late Jeffrey Epstein. With a smile and a twinkle in his eye, he’s a guy from another generation who didn’t deem flirting as provocative and obviously never felt he was belittling these intelligent women. Right or wrong, in his way, he was complimenting them.
He’s an able man and author of eight books. When the topic was serious, he never took guff and regularly cut off guests who proselytized. I imagine he’s hardly oblivious to change. My guess is that, putting incidents that happened several years ago behind him, he now understands the relatively recent #MeToo Movement, appreciates it and applauds it. But with reoccurring devastation due to climate change, Russian election interference, North Korean missile threats, numerous trade issues and sanctions, crumbling infrastructure, drug prices and health care amok, a currently encroaching horrid pandemic and the never ending lies and consistent incompetence emanating out of the city 40 miles to our south, “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” four years ago is what did in Chris Matthews.