After vowing not to underestimate Clinton, Matthews asserted, "[T]he reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around"

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

During MSNBC's coverage of the New Hampshire Democratic primary, Hardball host Chris Matthews stated, "I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again." But Matthews asserted on MSNBC's Morning Joe the next day, "[T]he reason she's a U.S. senator, the reason she's a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around."

During MSNBC's coverage of the January 8 New Hampshire Democratic primary, Chris Matthews -- host of MSNBC's Hardball -- discussed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) victory and said, "I've seen her now address large crowds in the last couple of days -- thousands of people -- under tremendous stress when it looked like she was losing this primary campaign, based upon all the polling. And she stood out there for several hours at a time taking every question." Matthews went on to say, "I give her a lot of personal credit. I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again." But as media critic and blogger Greg Sargent noted, during an appearance on the January 9 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Matthews said of Clinton, "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 her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit. She won because everybody felt, 'My God, this woman stood up under humiliation,' right? That's what happened."

During MSNBC's January 8 primary coverage, Air America host Rachel Maddow said, "I will tell you that on the influential -- influential perhaps on the left -- website Talking Points Memo today, you want to know who they're blaming for women voters breaking for Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama? Who they're blaming for this late showing in a big vote for Hillary Clinton? They're blaming Chris Matthews. People are citing specifically Chris not only for his own views, but also for as a symbol of what the mainstream media has done to Hillary Clinton." After Matthews responded, "My influence in American politics looms over the people. I'm overwhelmed myself," Maddow said, "People feel that the media is piling on Hillary Clinton. They're coming to her defense with their votes." Media Matters for America has written numerous items documenting Matthews' attacks on Clinton (recently here, here, and here), and published a study in December examining every evaluative remark Matthews made about Sen. Clinton or former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani during a three-month period. Media Matters found that, notwithstanding his claim that he had been "just as tough on Bill Clinton and Hillary and Rudy and the whole bunch of them," Matthews was particularly friendly to Giuliani and very hostile toward Clinton.

From the January 9 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

MATTHEWS: She's on game now. As I said, I'm not sure she had anything to do with her number last night, except that she was courageous as hell to the end, and her numbers were better than she thought.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI (co-host): Do you think, though -- and Joe's been talking about this, and his mom sent a really interesting email -- that there was a turn maybe at the last minute for some voters, given the really sharp twist in the media in terms of how they went negative?

MATTHEWS: It's not in the polling. I'm just saying it's not in the polling data.

BRZEZINSKI: I know. But, I mean, that's my point. Because people went to the polls throughout the day and maybe changed their mind and maybe were turned off by what they saw, by these nasty headlines.

MATTHEWS: Well, I don't know if they all read The New York Post, but --

BRZEZINSKI: And taking after her for crying.

MATTHEWS: Look, I think that may be true. I think the Hillary appeal has always been somewhat about her mix of toughness and sympathy for her. 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 her husband messed around. That's how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it.

She didn't win there on her merit. She won because everybody felt, "My God, this woman stood up under humiliation," right? That's what happened. That's how it happened. In 1998 she went to New York and campaigned for Chuck Schumer as almost like the grieving widow of absurdity, and she did it so well and courageously, but it was about the humiliation of Bill Clinton.

BRZEZINSKI: No, OK, well, you could take it a step back and say that she put Bill Clinton where he is and that he messed around, and then she was humiliated and people felt sorry for her.

MATTHEWS: That is Old Testament stuff.

BRZEZINSKI: Because she does have more than being a victim.

MATTHEWS: I agree.

BRZEZINSKI: She has more to her than being a victim.

MATTHEWS: Why do you hit me? Hit him, don't hit me.

JOE SCARBOROUGH (host): Mika is very upset. Chris, we'll be right back.

MATTHEWS: I'm sticking to my story.

From the 11 p.m. ET hour of MSNBC's January 8 New Hampshire primary coverage:

MATTHEWS: Well, I've seen her now address large crowds in the last couple of days -- thousands of people -- under tremendous stress when it looked like she was losing this primary campaign, based upon all the polling. And she stood out there for several hours at a time taking every question, just like Bill did back in '92 in this same kind of in-the-round arena, exposing herself to just about every kind of question.

And of course, last night, before a hothouse crowd of thousands of people with the cars lined up for the longest time to get into that arena, she stood there and took the heat under what looked to be a difficult time, in terms of the polling again. And I give her a lot of personal credit. I will never underestimate Hillary Clinton again.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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