Matthews has been critiqued as sexist and unfair in his coverage of Hilary Clinton (a critique I agree with), but he doesn't seem to understand why he's getting flack for it.
The conversation moved to what Matthews calls “the sexist thing,” or what Media Matters calls Matthews’s “history of degrading comments about women, in which he focuses on the physical appearances of his female guests and of other women discussed on his program.” This would include Matthews loudly admiring the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham (“You’re great looking, obviously — one of God’s gifts to men in this country”), Elizabeth Edwards(“You’ve got a great face”), Jane Fonda (“You also dazzle us with your beauty and all the good things”), CNBC’s Margaret Brennan (“You’re gorgeous”) and Erin Burnett (“You’re beautiful. . . . You’re a knockout”), among others. The Burnett episode was especially remarked upon. In the video Matthews instructed Burnett to “get a little closer to the camera.” As Burnett became confused, Matthews persisted: “Come on in closer. No, come in — come in further — come in closer. Really close.” It was, at the minimum, uncomfortable to watch."Tonally inaccurate but factually true"? My parents taught me that if I apologize about something, I had better be damn sure that I meant it. Otherwise it's a moot point. Why apologize if you're not standing behind the apology?
Matthews says the notion that he is sexist has been pushed unfairly by blogs, women’s groups and, to some degree, the Clinton campaign. His remark that Clinton benefitted because her husband “messed around” triggered much outrage from the Clinton team. Matthews eventually apologized in a rambling on-air explanation, but he hardly sounds contrite now. “I was tonally inaccurate but factually true,” he told me. I had asked him earlier if he was forced into the apology. “Oh, yeah, of course I was forced into that,” he said, laughing. “No, no, no . . . Phil [Griffin] asked me to do that.”
Matthews can't seem to understand the sexism in inviting a person to share their opinions about something and then spending the entire time discussing how beautiful they are. The mere obliviousness is almost unbelieveable, and puts the rest of his opinions in jeopardy. If he can't see the sexism in his behavior, how can his viewers expect him to muddle through the day-to-day nuances of politics, or even life?
Where's the line between objectification and appreciation? And, is Kathleen Matthews right in that the question is over objectification and appreciation?
“I guess the bottom line is, What does it show?” [Matthew's wife] Kathleen said. “Is it disrespect for women? Objectifying women?”
“It’s a show,” Chris replied.“Or does it show appreciation for a pretty woman?” Kathleen said. “I think that’s the question.”
While the issue of objectification and appreciation is one that won't be settled by Matthews (or even settled at all), I think what Matthews needs to realize is that his television show is not an appropriate place to gush over someone's looks. If you invite someone on your show to discuss politics or the economy, let their presence reflect that fact, as opposed to you babbling on about beauty.
And for good measure, Sweet Jesus, I Hate Chris Matthews.