Days after MSNBC host Chris Matthews came under fire for his sexist run-in with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), columnist Laura Bassett claimed in a piece for GQ that the veteran MSNBC personality sexually harassed her in 2016—something she had previously written about in 2017 without revealing Matthews’ name.
According to Bassett, the married MSNBC host approached her when she was in a make-up chair prior to appearing on his show to talk about—ironically enough—the sexual-assault allegations made against then-nominee Donald Trump.
Bassett claimed that while she was getting her makeup applied, Matthews looked her over and asked, “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?”
Bassett writes that the remark caused her to nervously laugh. Matthews, meanwhile, continued to comment, telling the makeup artist to keep “putting makeup on” Bassett as he’d “fall in love with her.”
The columnist also recalled how another instance in which Matthews stepped between her and a mirror and asked of her attire, “You going out tonight?” After she replied that she didn’t know, Matthews once again spoke to the makeup artist and made the following request: “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.”
Elsewhere in her GQ piece, Bassett claimed an unnamed cable news pundit told her about her own run-in with Matthews. The pundit said she was invited on Matthews’ show to talk about misogyny in the GOP, and that the MSNBC host explained that he was going to draw comparisons between the culture depicted in Mad Men and the Republican Party.
Right before going on-air for the segment—which, again, was about feminism and misogynist attitudes—Matthews allegedly referenced the curvy Mad Men character Joan and asked the pundit if she thought her “proportions are real.” The pundit told Bassett she was “shaken.”
Earlier this week, following Matthews’ much-criticized confrontation with Warren in which he badgered her on why she believed a female accuser over a man, the women’s advocacy group UltraViolet called on MSNBC to fire Matthews over the interview.
“MSNBC needs to fire Chris Matthews. Today,” UltraViolet president Shaunna Thomas said in the statement. “Matthews’ refusal to believe women, and history of sexual harassment, make it clear that he is not fit to continue to cover this election. MSNBC can and must do better, and they can start by firing Chris Matthews.”
The group also reacted to Bassett's accusation by calling out the network for "encouraging and enabling" the host's behavior.
“Chris Matthews has no business being on TV,” the statement read from Thomas. “That was true before Laura Bassett’s latest accusation. It is certainly true today. By keeping Matthews on the air, MSNBC is endorsing, encouraging and enabling his disgraceful and dangerous behavior. Comcast, MSNBC’s parent company, has a long and dark history of protecting abusive men. And here we are again. ”
“Matthews’ noted history of sexual misconduct, his refusal to believe women, and his egregious, sexist behavior—which he put on clear display for all of America to see at the South Carolina debate—make him unfit to report at MSNBC, or any other network,” Thomas added. “It is long past time for MSNBC to fire Chris Matthews and conduct a company-wide independent investigation into the toxic culture at Comcast/NBCUniversal.”
It was reported in late 2017 that NBC had paid separation compensation to a producer who accused Matthews of sexually harassing her. The network claimed at the time that the host had been “formally reprimanded” over the incident.
Besides that incident, Matthews has a history of both objectifying women on-air, such as Sarah Palin, CBS News’ Margaret Brennan, or CNN’s Erin Burnett, or expressing contempt for women he thinks are acting “witchy” or “anti-male.” He also infamously joked about obtaining a “Bill Cosby pill” just before interviewing then-candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Besides sparking backlash and outrage over his recent Warren segment, Matthews has also been the subject of intense criticism—especially from the left—over his fiercely negative coverage of Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders. After comparing Sanders’ overwhelming Nevada caucus win to the Nazis invading France during World War II, Matthews apologized on-air following widespread condemnation.