Chris Matthews Says Allegation Leading To His MSNBC Exit Was ‘Highly Justified’

Former “Hardball” host Chris Matthews admitted that one of the allegations of sexist behavior leading to his departure was “highly justified” and called his actions “inappropriate.”

In his first interview since he left MSNBC, Matthews told the Vanity Fair podcast “Inside The Hive” that the allegation GQ columnist Laura Bassett had made against him was true. Bassett revealed in a Feb. 28 GQ article that Matthews had inappropriately flirted with her in the makeup room before she appeared on his show in 2016, saying, “Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.”

(Note: Bassett previously reported for HuffPost).

Matthews, who was already under fire for both new and past sexist behavior, resigned several days later.

“I didn’t argue about it, I didn’t deny it,” Matthews said about Bassett’s article. “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.”

Matthews also called Bassett’s allegation “highly justified.”

“Basically, as I said, to repeat myself, it’s inappropriate in the workplace to compliment somebody on their appearance,” he said. “This is in the makeup chair and I did it.”

Bassett said she appreciated Matthews confirming her story:

Matthews’ sudden on-air resignation in March appeared to come as a surprise to his colleagues. He said that the decision followed a discussion with the network. He also apologized for making comments about women’s appearances in the past, which he said were “never okay ― not then and certainly not today.”

In the week leading up to his departure, Matthews had faced harsh criticism for pressing Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on why she believed a woman’s pregnancy discrimination allegation against former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Earlier in the year, Matthews apologized to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for comparing the then-presidential candidate’s Nevada caucus win to the 1940 Nazi invasion of France.

Prior to that, Matthews’ history of poor behavior toward women dated back many years, including a 1999 sexual harassment complaint from a former “Hardball” producer who had accused him of making inappropriate jokes in front of her. The network said Matthews was formally reprimanded for that complaint.

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