It's Time For MSNBC To Play Hardball with Chris Matthews And Itself
UPDATE: p>On Thursday January 17, 2008 Chris Matthews started his program, Hardball, with an apology for his remarks that Hillary Clinton's entire career was based on the fact that her husband had messed around.
When Don Imus said a bad bad thing, MSNBC eventually found it's moral compass --once their advertisers ran for the hills --and righteously removed his morning program from the MSNBC lineup, nine days after the offensive remark was made.
In explaining his decision to fire Imus, NBC News President Steve Capus said,
I take no joy in this. It’s not a particularly happy moment, but it needed to happen,” he said. “I can’t ignore the fact that there is a very long list of inappropriate comments, of inappropriate banter, and it has to stop.
If inappropriate comments and inappropriate banter is the standard that NBC uses to determine whether an anchor should remain on the air, then NBC has some 'splaining to do' when it comes to one 62 -year- old Christopher John Matthews, host of the financially lucrative primetime program, "HARDBALL."
Perhaps MSNBC needs to share what its definition of "inappropriate is."
Would MSNBC consider the exchange in August between Matthews and CNBC Anchor Erin Burnett as inappropriate?
You can see the exchange for yourself on NewsBusters and YouTube. The Sparks note version is at one point in the conversation Matthews asks Burnett to move closer to the camera. She is rattled by his request and he finally says,
"Haw! Haw! Just kidding! you look great![...]No, you're beautiful! I'm just kidding! I'm just kidding! You're a knockout!"
In September, the target of Matthew's sexist comments was conservative pundit Laura Ingraham.As his soliloquy proves,, he knows that what he's saying is not appropriate, and yet he still says it.
Matthews: “Can I sing your praises? I’ll get in trouble for this, but you’re great looking, obviously. You’re one of the God’s gifts to men in this country, but also, you’re a hell of a writer, your books always do well, your radio show — I just looked at the numbers, you are up there, one of the top most listened to radio shows. I think you’re great, especially when you have me on, you’re fabulous Laura Ingraham, you’re great…
Does the network think that kind of exchange is appropriate? Evidently it does because Matthews is still on air. And as far as I can find, neither Matthews nor MSNBC has issued a public apology for his offensive, rude and crude remarks.
The real problem is not Matthews. It's the network itself. Matthews would quickly find a cure for his diarrhea of the mouth if the network decided to play Hardball and actually enforce some policies and procedures regarding sexual discrimination.
Unfortunately, it appears that MSNBC is an amoral organization, guided more by the whims of advertisers then a code of ethics that it has embraced and lives by. It can't force Matthews into behaving ethically because the organization evidently doesn't believe that sexist comments is a breach of its code of ethics.
Just this week The Golf Channel suspended anchor Kelly Tilghman for two weeks after she said players who want to challenge Tiger Woods should " lynch him in a back alley."
The Golf Channel didn't hesitate. They acted immediately because when it comes to racist comments the network is very clear on what is and isn't acceptable.
Without the benefit of a deeply held code of ethics, organizations like MSNBC tend to be reactive rather than proactive. They allow public opinion to determine their ethical stands.
It took a firestorm to get MSNBC to see that Imus' comments were "inappropriate."
Hold on to your hats, a blogostorm is forming.
On Friday, Media Matters launched a campaign to get MSNBC to do something , anything about Matthews behavior. Their main issue is the language used in discussing presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton.
Using overtly sexist language, he has referred to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) as a "she devil" and compared her to a "strip-teaser." He has called her "witchy" and likened her voice to "fingernails on a blackboard." He has referred to men who support her as "castratos in the eunuch chorus." He has suggested Clinton is not "a convincing mom" and said "modern women" like Clinton are unacceptable to "Midwest guys." He has called her "Madame Defarge" and "Nurse Ratched."
More than six years ago, long before Hillary Clinton began running for president, the Philadelphia Inquirer magazine reported that, according to an MSNBC colleague, Matthews had said of Clinton: "I hate her. I hate her. All that she stands for."
Even before that, Matthews told the January 20, 2000, Hardball audience, "Hillary Clinton bugs a lot of guys, I mean, really bugs people like maybe me on occasion. I'm not going to take a firm position here, because the election is not coming up yet. But let me just say this, she drives some of us absolutely nuts."
Then there was Matthews tirade with the hosts of The View over his comments that the only reason Hillary Clinton is a senator is because people felt sorry for her after Bill's very public infidelities. From therawstory
"Let’s not forget, and I’ll be brutal, the reason she’s a US Senator, the reason she’s a candidate for President, the reason she may be a front runner, is that her husband messed around," Matthews pronounced Wednesday on MSNBC's Morning Joe.
Bloggers are getting behind MediaMatters and asking their readers to voice their outrage to MSNBC. From Skakesville,
I can't believe this[explitive] is allowed to go on. It's an absolute disgrace, and the fact that it's considered Business As Usual is just totally despicable.
If Chris Matthews spewed racism instead of sexism, there can be no doubt that the sexist pig would be out of a job. MSNBC's Chris Matthews' daily sexist rants against Hillary Clinton are beyond the pale and should alarm and enrage all of us, regardless of who we support.
Sara Robinson of the Group News Blog had this to say about MSNBC and Chris Matthews,
MSNBC needs to hear, loud and clear, that this is not charming, nor attractive, nor even acceptable in this day and age. (Even FOX News won't go this low -- Bill O'Reilly's on the record saying that Matthews' recent comment on Hillary's success being a result of Bill's cheating was an unacceptable attack. When BOR takes you to the woodshed on on-air propriety, you know the bottom is well in sight. Looming ahead: diplomacy lessons from Michael Savage.) A new generation of women is rising to power in this country; and if Matthews is too ossified in his sexism to get with the program (and, at 62, if he hasn't gotten over it now, let's not hold our collective breath), then he needs to give up his seat in front of the camera to someone who doesn't think that strong women are "scary" and the men who admire them are "castrated."
Contact MSNBC and let them know what you think.
One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, N.J. 07094
Secaucus, N.J. 07094
Elana blogs about business culture at FunnyBusiness