Speaking to Vanity Fair in his first interview since that exit, the former Hardball host admitted that an account by a female journalist in GQ Magazine alleging Matthews made inappropriate remarks happened.
That story led to resurfaced reports on prior Matthews misconduct, including news that he had been reprimanded in 1999 after a similar incident with an MSNBC employee. That reportedly resulted in a settlement with that employee.
In the GQ account, writer Laura Bassett said she was preparing for appearing on Matthew’s show when he said, “Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.”
Bassett said, “When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the makeup artist.”
At another point, Matthews remarked on a red dress Bassett wore, asking, “You going out tonight?” Bassett said that she “didn’t know,” and Matthews told the makeup artist, “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.”
Bassett said the remarks “undermined my ability to do my 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. Many had similar stories.” Bassett claimed she didnt identify Matthews at the time because of fears of network retaliation.
Matthews told Vanity Fair that his comments to Bassett weren’t right.
“I didn’t argue about it, I didn’t deny it,’ Matthews said. ‘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. That was highly justified. Basically, as I said, to repeat myself, it’s inappropriate in the workplace to compliment somebody on their appearance, this is in the makeup chair, and I did it.”
Bassett acknowledged the Matthews comments in a Saturday night tweet.
“Somehow I missed that Chris Matthews confirmed my story about him to Vanity Fair yesterday. I appreciate him owning up this and respect how he handled it. And to everyone who reflexively said I was lying: Please read this,” she wrote, linking the story.