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Journalist Laura Bassett penned a sweeping indictment of MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews Friday, claiming that he routinely employed sexist language and even discussed the prospect of falling in love with her.
In a column for GQ, Bassett said Matthew’s conduct “undermined my ability to do my job well.”
Bassett’s claims came after she published an op-ed describing inappropriate comments from an unnamed broadcast journalist. That journalist was Matthews, Bassett said, but she was afraid to publicly accuse him at the time.
“In 2017, I wrote about a cable news host being gross and inappropriate with me. I was afraid to name him at the time,” she tweeted on Friday. “I’m not anymore; it was Chris Matthews! And his sexist exchange with [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren this week inspired me to revisit those moments and name him.”
Earlier this week, the head of the women’s group Ultraviolet called for MSNBC to fire Matthews over his questioning of Warren, D-Mass., following Tuesday’s Democratic debate. Matthews had peppered Warren with questions about her putting stock in an allegation that former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg tried to pressure a female employee into having an abortion.
Writing in GQ, Bassett says she was scheduled to appear on Matthews’ show in 2016 to discuss sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump.
She recalled Matthews looking at her in the adjacent makeup chair and asking: ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?'” Bassett said she laughed nervously but Matthews kept making comments to the makeup artist.
“Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her,” Matthews allegedly said.
Another time, Matthews seemed to make a possessive comment about Bassett and the purpose of her makeup. “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,” he told a makeup artist.
According to Bassett, MSNBC was “downright irresponsible” to allow Matthews to conduct post-debate interviews. Matthews, she suggested, treated Warren’s “assessments with infantilizing suspicion” and created a major disadvantage for female candidates. She added that while Matthews wasn’t her boss, his conduct “undermined” her ability to do her job “well.”
“And after I published a story about it, even though I didn’t name him, dozens of people reached out to say they knew exactly who it was,” she writes. “Many had similar stories.”
Bassett’s column cites a slew of inappropriate comments, including when he appeared to reference date rape in an apparent joke about former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. “Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” Matthews asked, referring to the comedian accused of drugging and raping women.
“In fact,” Bassett writes, “Matthews’ whole modus operandi seems to be inviting smart women onto his show, flirting with them or otherwise making them uncomfortable before or while the camera rolls, asking them a question on air and then immediately interrupting them to tell them why they’re wrong.”
In 2017, The Daily Caller reported that NBC paid an assistant producer on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” $40,000 in 1999 to settle her sexual harassment claim against the anchor. An MSNBC spokesperson said at the time that executives were told that Matthews made inappropriate jokes and comments about the woman in front of others, that the matter was reviewed and it was determined the comments were inappropriate and made in poor taste but were never meant as propositions.
MSNBC has not confirmed the amount paid to the woman, nor has the network said whether the payment was made to settle a harassment claim.
NBC Universal did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment Friday.
Bassett wasn’t the only one to voice concern about Matthews after his exchange with Warren.
“It’s honestly shameful that Chris Matthews is still on air,” writer Jessica Valenti tweeted on Wednesday.
It’s unclear how NBC will proceed, but the network has been under scrutiny ever since the MeToo movement started in 2017. The network fired former “Today” host Matt Lauer amid multiple claims of sexual misconduct. NBC also has been blamed for suppressing a story on disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, the man whose alleged crimes helped spur the movement.
According to reporting from “Catch and Kill” author Ronan Farrow, Lack and NBC News president Noah Oppenheim were directly implicated in the stonewalling of Farrow’s harrowing report on Weinstein’s sexual predation and discovered that the Miramax co-founder was trying to leverage Lauer’s own scandal over the network.
A shareholder resolution urged NBC’s parent company, Comcast, to probe alleged failures to prevent workplace sexual harassment at the company, but Comcast/NBCUniversal petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to block the resolution before shareholders can chime in.
Arjuna Capital and UltraViolet submitted a resolution last month saying Comcast shareholders should urge the board of directors to conduct an independent investigation into the company, which has been caught up in a variety of scandals, including bombshells regarding Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer.
In a letter obtained by Fox News, Comcast/NBCUniversal responded by asking the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to block the proposal, claiming the company has already taken steps to combat sexual harassment, which are detailed in the letter.
Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.