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Laura Bassett: Two wrongs don’t make aright

James Barraford

Staff Writer

In an essay titled, “Like Warren, I Had My Own Sexist Run-In with Chris Matthews,” Laura Bassett describes when Matthews complimented her appearance, albeit in a cringey way.

Matthews hosted one of MSNBC’s most popular shows, “Hardball,” since 1994. His approach to

interviews could be brash and bombastic.

Bassett – who is now a political columnist at GQ – was employed by the Huffington Post during her 2016 “Hardball” interview.

“Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her,” Matthews said while Bassett was in the make-up chair.

In a nutshell, this is what the conversation consisted of. She said it made it difficult for her to do her job effectively.

Matthews had made several on-air gaffes the week prior to his March 2 resignation. He compared Sen.

Bernie Sanders’ Nevada Caucus win to the Nazi Invasion of France and pressed Sen. Elizabeth Warren if she truly believed Mayor Mike Bloomberg said sexist things in the work place.

Her essay appears to have sealed Matthews’ abrupt retirement.

Bassett also took issue with Matthews using the term “she-devil” and making a wildly inappropriate and disrespectful joke preceding an interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“Where’s that Bill Cosby pill?” Matthews asked.

Matthews should have known better but another host on the network fared better with their bad behavior.

Joy Reid is still an MSNBC host despite the fact that in 2018, decade old blog-posts were unearthed showcasing unapologetically homophobic opinions. Instead of acknowledging that she made a mistake, she claimed her blog was hacked.

This prompted an FBI investigation as well as Reid hiring a cyber security expert. Neither was able to find evidence of hacking. She later began her apology – if you could call it that – saying, “I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things.”

If Reid genuinely believes that, wouldn’t that make any subsequent apology pointless?

Reid still has her “AM Joy” program. Perhaps that doublespeak apology could be mustered up to overwhelming shame. Maybe so, yet her treatment of others’ gross mistakes makes her a tad hypocritical.

Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia was caught in an egregious photo from his 1984 yearbook. In it, he was photographed in blackface beside a hooded KKK figure.

Yet, on her “AM Joy” Twitter account, she said Northam has no moral authority to lead and should resign. If someone can’t evolve after three decades, why should anyone assume Reid could after one?

Was Matthews’ behavior inappropriate? It definitely was pushing a boundary.

Yet Matthews was indiscriminate, as far as gender is concerned, when interrupting guests. He is who he is. He interrupts, he’s passionate, and he’s made for cable news.

MSNBC has always been a corporation first. It is not held to the same standards as traditional

journalism and Bassett would know that.

Basset claimed that Matthews’ modus operandi was to invite smart women on to interrupt them and make them feel uncomfortable.

Judging from the number of men he has interrupted, my advice to Bassett would be, don’t go onto a show called “Hardball.” Multiple times.

She says Matthews repeatedly “lusted” over women such as Sarah Palin with horrid descriptions such as “electric” and “very attractive.”

Matthews was an avid supporter of former President Barack Obama.

“I felt this thrill going up my leg,” is how Matthews described one speech by the president.

Thank God President Obama has the Secret Service. Things could have gotten pretty lusty for Obama’s “Hardball” interview.

Many people’s careers were made on “Hardball.” Bassett’s career was only beginning.

Bassett made a choice to stay silent over dumb comments. She then named Matthews years down the line to pull up her resume.

Her most recent essay was called, “I told my story about Chris Matthews. I’m celebrating that he no longer has a platform.” That sounds awfully vindictive for comments that, in Bassett’s admission, don’t reach the legal threshold for sexual harassment.

Matthews was a popular MSNBC pundit for over two decades. MSNBC’s removal of their popular star is disgraceful.

Cancel culture is too indiscriminate and arbitrary and for that reason it alienates people. People like Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, and Bill Cosby absolutely deserve the wrath of #MeToo. Chris Matthews was no Harvey Weinstein.

What Bassett did was not a public service. Matthews was not Bassett’s employer, she never went to HR, and never told him to stop. Her vulturous behavior undermines #MeToo by instilling doubt toward actual victims of sexual harassment and abuse.

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