Chris Matthews may have hosted MSNBC Hardball for 20 years, but clearly, even that wasn't enough to prepare him for The View's cross-examination. Matthews stopped by the show on Wednesday morning to promote his new book, but the co-hosts instead asked about the sexual harassment scandal that led to his retirement, and — despite a similar apperance just last night on The ReidOut — he seemed woefully unprepared to answer their questions.
For nearly 18 months, Matthews has stayed out of the spotlight in the wake of his sexual harassment scandal, but he couldn't avoid the topic during a tense segment on The View. "Let's address your abrupt retirement from your MSNBC show Hardball last year over inappropriate comments you made to women about their appearance," said Sunny Hostin. "Was it your decision to leave, and what were the lessons learned, in retrospect?"
"Well, the lesson is, you're not supposed to comment about a person's appearance in the workplace," replied Matthews. "And I know that rule by heart, certainly, now."
Matthews stuck to the party line as he explained that he "owned up to it" and "never challenged" the allegations, but it didn't last long, as his tone quickly shifted as he recalled the remarks he made to female journalists in the past. "I made a couple of comments that we might have called in the old days 'compliments' but are not taken as compliments today by any means," he said. "I just said it all was true, and I retired. And that was the decision I made."
Joy Behar then thanked Matthews for his "mea culpa," but she didn't stop there. "I want to talk about another part of what happened to you. You made a lot of sexist comments about Hillary Clinton," she said. "You called her: 'She-devil,' 'witchy,' 'Nurse Ratched,' among other things."
Matthews interrupted to insist that he "never did" call Hillary Clinton any names, a denial that stunned Behar. "You never did that? Then my research is off," she replied, sarcastically, as outlets like Jezebel have been reporting on Matthews' "sexist history with Hillary Clinton" for more than 10 years.
Rather than simply apologize for his well-documented, disparaging remarks about Clinton, Matthews flailed around as he claimed that a producer wrote the sexist phrases in a "tease" about the GOP. "It was a set-up to a whole segment on the program about how Republicans were not going to run against her on the issues," he said. "They're going to go after her personally in a misogynist attack. That's how that word — that phrase was used. I never said that about her."
"Uh-huh. Alright, okay," replied Behar, making her feelings clear. "It was reported that you said those things. So my bad, I think."
For once, it's not your bad, Joy. Let's hope another news personality picks up that thread and runs with it.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the TV Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.