Why Is Chris Matthews Still on Television?

Illustration for article titled Why Is Chris Matthews Still on Television?
Screenshot: MSNBC

When Chris Matthews interviewed Senator Kamala Harris following her winning performance on the Democratic debate stage, he managed to bungle an otherwise normal conversation with an absurd question about race. Namely, how did Kamala Harris end up not hating the whites?


Matthews was referring to an exchange during the night’s most tense moment: Harris told Joe Biden that she found his chummy recollections of working with segregationists in the Senate “hurtful,” especially since he allied with them on anti-bussing measures. A visibly frustrated Biden denied Harris’s characterization and—due to his pathological inability to ever admit fault—inadvertently presented a hamhanded defense of an inarguably racist stance on bussing while insisting that he’s a champion for civil rights. It was a low moment, and Harris capitalized on it—only building on to the narrative that Biden is too out of touch for the modern Democratic Party.

But Biden wasn’t the only one who was embarrassingly out of touch that night. Enter MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who thought that he was offering a sensible
response to Harris’s explanation of why she was so hurt by Biden’s comments:

“This is really important to people of all backgrounds and ethnicities—I don’t like the word race, ethnicities,” said Matthews, who apparently thinks race and ethnicity are interchangeable (they’re not). “How did you come out of that and not have hatred toward white people generally?”


Harris was immediately taken aback. Matthews tried to recover.

“I’m just asking because you talked about being a kid and having other kids be kept off as friends because their parents looked at you as someone else,” Matthews said.

Harris replied:

Most Americans do not conduct themselves that way, and most parents don’t conduct themselves that way, so there was no need to create a broad application because of that one experience. But we cannot deny that there are many children, black children in America who have had that experience. Children of color who have had that experience, be they Latino, Asian, or Black. That has happened. That happens in America.”


If Matthews was sincerely curious about how black people manage to stay remotely sane in a deeply racist country, he sure picked the wrong way to ask. But Matthews’s tendency toward boorish tactlessness is basically his entire brand, which leaves an even bigger question hanging in the air: What is MSNBC thinking—and how does anyone manage to watch Matthews without waiting for the inevitable moment of dread?

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

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The High Woman In The Castle

This is the other problem with the 24 hour news cycle: talking heads have to stay “edgy” and “provocative” even when things aren’t. So you get morons like Chris Matthews slinging any stupid question he can at a wall and hoping something goes viral or gets a rise out of his interviewee.

The 24 cable news talking head gig is so ruthless that it doesn’t matter how stupid or bigoted or idiotic his questions are. He has to be That Guy Who Asks a Lot of Important Questions.

And if you call him on his stupidity? Oh I’m just asking questions. You’re not entitled to your own facts! I have to ask the hard questions! I'm tough on everyone!

Lol no, dude, you're just stupid.

SEE ALSO: Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer