The re-emergence of disgraced former MSNBC host Chris Matthews on the network Thursday sparked a firestorm for allowing the “serial harasser” on air.
Matthews, the longtime left-leaning pundit, ended the 23-year run of his talk show “Hardball” in 2020 after journalist Laura Bassett went public with claims that he flirted with her before an appearance on his show in 2016.
He was booked on “Morning Joe” — with co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — to discuss the fate of former President Donald Trump, who was sued on Wednesday by New York state Attorney General Letitia James for allegedly inflating the value of his real estate assets to gain loan and tax benefits.
James filed suit seeking to bar Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, from operating in New York. The Attorney General’s Office is also seeking some $250 million in penalties.
Trump has denied the allegations, accusing James, a Democrat, of orchestrating a politically motivated “witch hunt.”
“The president’s ice cream cone is melting,” Matthews said of Trump on Thursday.
Matthews’ appearance led to a sharply divided debate on Twitter.
“Get that serial harasser and his s–t eating grin OFF MY TV,” one user tweeted.
Another was even more blunt, writing: “MSNBC — you do NOT get to rehabilitate the odious Chris Matthews this way.”
“Why did MSNBC feel the need to resurrect Chris Matthews? Who has missed his opinion?” another critic on Twitter opined.
But some expressed support for Matthews, the former congressional aide and Carter administration official.
“I really like it when he’s back on TV,” one Twitter user wrote. “[Especially] when he’s talking about Trump.”
The Post has sought comment from MSNBC and Bassett. Matthews wasn’t available for comment.
In March 2020, Bassett wrote a piece for GQ magazine detailing the “gross” and “inappropriate” comments Matthews made to her in 2016.
As Bassett was preparing to join Matthews on the air, the “Hardball” host allegedly said to her: “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?”
Matthews is then alleged to have turned to the makeup artist and told her: “Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.”
Weeks after Matthews resigned, he told Vanity Fair that he found Bassett’s allegations “very credible.”
“I didn’t argue about it, I didn’t deny it,” he is quoted as saying.
Upon resigning, Matthews addressed the controversy, which was part of the #MeToo wave of harassment complaints against powerful men in media, Hollywood and other industries.
“A lot of it has to do with how we talk to each other, compliments on a woman’s appearance, that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were OK, were never OK,” Matthews said.
Matthews appeared on MSNBC last year with host Andrea Mitchell to plug his book, “This Country: My Life in Politics and History,” and to comment on the Jan. 6 riot. He was a former Capitol police officer.