Host of MSNBC’s Hardball, Chris Matthews is being accused of conflict-of-interest over donations to his wife’s Congressional campaign.
Matthews announced that his wife, Kathleen, would be running for Congress on his show last June.
“As a journalist, I also know how important it is to respect certain boundaries on my support for her both in my public role and here on MSNBC,” he said. “And while most of you know that our show doesn’t typically cover congressional races, I will continue to fully disclose my relationship with her as part of MSNBC’s commitment to being transparent and fair in our coverage.”
Despite his professed commitment to journalistic integrity, Matthews did not disclose that guests of Hardball were making donations to his wife’s campaign after this announcement.
An article by The Intercept paint’s a picture of a possible pay-to-play arrangement that Matthews had cultivated with some of his guests.
“In at least three of those cases, the donations came within days of the MSNBC appearance,” the Intercept article claims.
Some of the donors include sitting members of Congress including John Larson (who gave $2,000), Claire McCaskill ($1,000), and Ed Markey ($2,000).
Matthews personally endorsed Markey for the Senate in 2013.
The Intercept says that they discovered this information through cross-referencing Federal Election Commission (FEC) data with episodes of Hardball.
The article claims that Matthews likely did not violate FEC rules. More murky is how Matthews tip-toed the lines of the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission.
FCC rules prohibit just this kind of pay-to-play scheme, but it only applies to broadcast hosts, not cable. Also Chris Matthews did not actually receive any money, his wife did.
An MSNBC spokesperson issued the official defense of Matthews in an interview on CNN.
“‘Hardball’ has never booked a guest in exchange for a political contribution,” an MSNBC spokesperson told CNN. “That is an offensive accusation that would violate not only the standards of NBC News, but also Chris’s personal ethics.”
What is evident here, is that Matthews is a part of the “club” of Washington Insiders.
The bottom line of this scandal is that while nothing illegal has come to light yet, it does show an uncomfortable close relationship between Matthews and members of the political class.
Matthews has been accused of being soft on politicians before, including Hillary Clinton.
Chris Matthews cannot be respected and trusted as a journalist because of this close relationship with the very people he is supposed to keep accountable.
The Young Turks outlined the problem with Chris Matthews’ relationship with political elites during his townhall with Hillary Clinton last week in the video below.
[The Young Turks] [Inside Sources] [The Intercept] [CNN]