Chris Matthews, who has hosted the political commentary hour Hardball since 1997, finds himself in the hot seat this weekend over a reportedly settled sexual harassment allegation from nearly a couple decades ago.
On Saturday, conservative news site The Daily Caller reported the accounts of “two sources familiar with the situation” who said Matthews paid an assistant producer on Hardball $40,000 after she accused him of sexual harassment in 1999. The woman reportedly told executives at CNBC (the show later migrated to MSNBC), that Matthews made inappropriate comments and jokes about her in front of others.
Then, on Sunday, an MSNBC spokesperson confirmed parts of the report in a letter to the Associated Press, but did not elaborate on the comments Matthews made, insisting only that they weren’t intended as sexual propositions. “In 1999, this matter was thoroughly reviewed and dealt with,” the spokesperson wrote to the AP. “At that time, Matthews received a formal reprimand.”
The spokesperson also did not specify an amount paid to the woman, citing confidentiality, and said it was a “separation-related compensation.” Whether the woman’s leaving had to do with Matthew’s behavior remains unclear.
An MSNBC spokesperson also told the New York Daily News that the matter was investigated and dealt with immediately after it was reported. And a spokesperson from the television network told the Daily Caller the amount the woman received was less than the reported $40,000 in settlement money.
Matthews has yet to comment on this newly publicized allegation.