rumbling, MSNBC's Chris Matthews said Thursday that he was
wrong to say last week that the reason Hillary Clinton is a
senator and a candidate for president ''is that her
husband messed around.''
discussed those remarks at the opening of his show
Hardball Thursday, the same day feminist leader
Gloria Steinem and the heads of four prominent women's
groups complained in a letter to his boss that
Matthews had shown a pattern of sexism.
''Was it fair to
imply that Hillary's whole career depended on being a
victim of an unfaithful husband? No,'' Matthews said.
''That's what it sounded like I was saying and it hurt
people I'd like to think normally like what I say
(and), in fact, like me.''
He said that
while he has not always taken the time to say things right
or be appropriate, ''I will try to be clearer, smarter, more
obviously in support of the right of women, of all
people, to full equality of respect and ambition.''
Matthews made the
remarks about Clinton on MSNBC's Morning Joe program
January 9, the day after the New Hampshire primary.
Clinton's surprise victory in the primary was
ascribed, in small part, on women angry that the press corps
seemed to write her off after losing in Iowa.
On the program,
Matthews said: ''Let's not forget -- and I'll be brutal
-- the reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a
candidate for president, the reason she may be a
front-runner, is that her husband messed around.''
He explained in a
later interview with the Associated Press that it was a
reference to New York Democrats asking her to run for Senate
when she showed dignity in the face of the Monica
Lewinsky scandal. He called it an ''unexceptional
But now, Matthews
said Thursday, ''I get it.''
''If I'd said
that the only reason John McCain has come so far is that he
got shot down over North Vietnam and captured by the enemy,
I'd be brutally ignoring the courage and guts he
showed in bearing up under his captivity,'' he said.
''Saying Senator Clinton got where she's got simply
because her husband did what he did to her is just as
callous and, I can see now, came across just as nasty,
worse yet just as dismissive.''
the letter to NBC News president Steve Capus was signed
by Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for
Women; Lulu Flores, president of the National Women's
Political Caucus; Carol Jenkins, president of the
Women's Media Center; and Eleanor Smeal, president of
Clinton comment was the trigger for their protest, but they
said Matthews's comments over the years ''demonstrate a
larger pattern of overt sexism when discussing
immediately available on Thursday, and a spokeswoman said
NBC had not yet seen the letter.
Matthews was also
in the crosshairs of the liberal media watchdog Media
Matters, which wrote to Capus on Wednesday to express
concerns about the fast-talking political analyst.
president and CEO of Media Matters, called Matthews's
statement on Thursday a step in the right direction.
going forward he will try to be more supportive of the
right of women to full equality and respect for their
ambitions,'' Brock said. ''That is a pledge MSNBC has
a responsibility to hold him to in the weeks and
months ahead. Media Matters certainly will.'' (AP)