In his first interview since resigning over inappropriate comments about a female reporter’s appearance less than two months ago, former MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews said the reporter’s complaint about him was “highly justified.”
The former “Hardball” host told viewers he and MSNBC had decided to mutually part ways in early March after accusations of making inappropriate comments, including several about women. He also apologized for past comments about women’s appearances.
Speaking to Vanity Fair‘s Inside the Hive podcast released Friday, Matthews, 74, acknowledged both that he made inappropriate workplace comments.
“I didn’t argue about it, I didn’t deny it,” he said. “I accepted the credibility of the complaint in the article. I didn’t want to challenge the person that made the complaint and wrote the article. I thought it was very credible and certainly within the person’s rights to write that article, of course. That was highly justified.”
He added: “Basically, as I said, to repeat myself, it’s inappropriate in the workplace to compliment somebody on their appearance, this is in the makeup chair, and I did it.”
Speaking on air during his final appearance in March, Matthews acknowledged and applauded changing “standards” in the workplace and apologized for making comments about women’s appearances.
“The younger generations out there are ready to take the reins,” Matthews said. “We’ve seen them in politics, in the media, and fighting for the causes. They’re improving the workplace. We’re talking here about better standards than we grew up with. Fair standards. 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.”
Now, Matthews says he’s working on a memoir for Simon & Schuster and has been receiving supporting letters from fans.
“People say they miss me, I miss them too,” he told Vanity Fair. “C’est la vie.”
The most recent allegations surfaced against the veteran host in late February when journalist Laura Bassett revealed in a column for GQ that Matthews made her “uncomfortable” ahead of her 2016 appearance on “Hardball” after he “inappropriately flirted with me in the makeup room.”
“Right before I had to go on his show and talk about sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump, Matthews looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?'” wrote Bassett, a freelance journalist covering politics, gender, and culture.
She continued: “When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the makeup artist. ‘Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.'”
Bassett recalled another incident where Matthews complimented her red dress and asked whether she was going out following their segment.
“I said I didn’t know,” Bassett added. “And he said — again to the 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.'”
Bassett responded to the Vanity Fair interview Saturday on Twitter: “I appreciate him owning up this and respect how he handled it,” she wrote. “And to everyone who reflexively said I was lying: Please read this.”Laura Bassett✔@LEBassett
Somehow I missed that Chris Matthews confirmed my story about him to Vanity Fair yesterday. I appreciate him owning up this and respect how he handled it. And to everyone who reflexively said I was lying: Please read this. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/04/biden-advice-chris-matthewss-first-interview-since-hardball-exit …
Bassett’s account was not the first time Matthews’ treatment of women had been called into question.
In 1999, Matthews was reprimanded for making inappropriate jokes and comments about a female employee. The incident, made when “Hardball with Chris Matthews” was airing on CNBC, resulted in the woman getting separation-related compensation from the network, an MSNBC spokesperson told USA TODAY in 2017.
In 2016, Matthews issued an apology after asking where his “Bill Cosby pill” was before an interview with then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during her campaign. He said the comment was made in “poor taste.”
And in February, he apologized for comparing Bernie Sanders’ win in the Nevada caucuses to Nazi Germany’s defeat of France in World War II, which caused an uproar. He also confused the identities of South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison and Sen. Tim Scott, both black men.
Bassett said she decided to come forward with her account after the host had an on-air exchange with Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren about allegations of sexism against fellow candidate Mike Bloomberg.
Contributing: Cydney Henderson, Maria Puente and Andrea Mandell, USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chris Matthews said allegation about him was ‘highly justified’
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