MSNBC host Chris Matthews, fresh off his apology to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) for comparing his Nevada primary victory to a Nazi invasion, sparked more controversy Tuesday night when he aggressively pressed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to explain why she believed one of Michael Bloomberg’s accusers over Bloomberg himself.
During Tuesday evening’s chaotic Democratic primary debate, Warren directly confronted the former New York City mayor over his treatment of women over the years. Notably, she brought up a lawsuit in which a female employee alleged Bloomberg had told her to “kill it” when he found out she was pregnant. Bloomberg insisted he “never said it,” despite the fact he eventually reached a confidential settlement with the woman.
Following the debate, Matthews sat down with Warren during MSNBC’s post-game coverage and immediately began grilling her on that moment.
“Do you believe that the former mayor of New York said that to a pregnant employee?” Matthews wondered aloud.
After the Massachusetts senator said the issue of pregnancy discrimination was “personal” for her, she noted that there has been a history of people saying that they can’t believe women.
“Really? Why not?” Warren exclaimed, adding that Bloomberg has nondisclosure agreements with “who knows how many women” while asking how the ex-mayor can be trusted if he won’t release them all from NDAs in order to tell their stories. (Bloomberg has acknowledged that his company signed nondisclosure agreements with three women but downplayed the significance of the complaints at the center of the agreements, saying they concerned only “comments” or “maybe they didn't like a joke I told.”)
“Everybody deserves a credible response when they make a charge like that,” Matthews retorted. “My question, do you believe he’s lying?”
Warren replied that she believes the woman, prompting the MSNBC host to shoot back: “You believe he’s lying!”
“Why would he lie?” Matthews continued. “Because just to protect himself?”
Telling the MSNBC star “yeah,” an incredulous Warren then asked Matthews “Why would she lie?”—leaving the host briefly dumbstruck.
“I just want to make sure you’re clear about this,” Matthews said after recovering. “You’re confident of your accusation?”
“Look, all I know is what she said and what he said,” Warren responded. “And I’ve been on her end of it in the sense of discrimination based on pregnancy. It happens all across this country, and men all across this country say, ‘Oh my gosh, he never would have said that.’ Really?!”
As far as the veracity of the woman’s story, a third-party witness said he heard the conversation in question. David Zielenziger, also a former Bloomberg employee, told the Washington Post about the exchange, further noting that Bloomberg’s behavior was “outrageous” and he “understood why she took offense.”