Matthews on Clinton in 1999: "My husband cheated on me, make me senator"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

January 9 was not the first time Chris Matthews has suggested that Hillary Clinton owes her political career to her husband's adultery. In 1999, when Clinton was running for the Senate for the first time, Matthews said: "I mean, it's hilarious, but isn't that her main claim, that she's the victim of the -- of the -- of the year?" later adding, "Now it's an election ca -- it's a bumper sticker. 'My husband cheated on me, make me senator.' "

During an appearance on the January 9 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Chris Matthews -- host of MSNBC's Hardball -- said of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), "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."

A search of the Nexis database reveals that Matthews made similar versions of that comment in 1999, when Clinton began her initial run for the Senate. During a discussion of then-first lady Clinton on the July 8, 1999, edition of Hardball -- then on CNBC -- Matthews asserted, "I cannot imagine a male going to a state he's never lived in and saying, 'Make me your U.S. senator because my wife's been cheating on me.' " Matthews continued, "I mean, it's hilarious, but isn't that her main claim, that she's the victim of the -- of the -- of the year?" later adding, "Now it's an election ca -- it's a bumper sticker. 'My husband cheated on me, make me senator.' "

The following day, on the July 9, 1999, edition of Hardball, Matthews asked:

MATTHEWS: I mean, what has she done? Let me just ask you a blunt question. What has she done? Has she ever passed a significant piece of legislation? Has she ever had a job? Has she ever won an Oscar? Has she ever written a book that she wrote herself? Has she ever actually done anything except as she put it, be a quote, "tireless advocate," whatever that is?

His guest, Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, indentified in the Nexis database as a "jury consultant," asserted, "Well, you know, Chris, what her -- her biggest -- her biggest advantage is right now is she stood by a philandering man for years." Matthews responded by repeating, "Right. She -- OK. 'My husband cheated on me, make me your senator.' "

From the July 9, 1999, edition of CNBC's Hardball:

MATTHEWS: Well, I have a theory. Jo-Ellan, can I ask you a question? I think that what she's done brilliantly here -- you say low energy -- they always say that on TV -- energy level, we're always talking about that on television when we're off-camera here -- but it seems to me what she might be doing is be a genius, and having gotten popularity from being the victim of Bill -- and I believe that is the raison d'etre of this campaign, that she is, in fact, a victim for so many Americans -- that she's now going to make herself the victim of Rudy as she was the victim of Bill. This'll be stage two in the campaign, and a lot of women'll say, "Bill beat her up, now Rudy's beating her up, the media's beating her up -- I'm for her."

[...]

MATTHEWS: Do you do much psychotherapy of people, or do you just try to look at their superficial behaviors, because I -- I look at this woman as a person who has, for whatever reason, a deep sense of entitlement, that she's entitled to certain respect as--almost like a -- a Madonna, a godlike figure. She's expected to have people bring flowers to her -- in fact, she seems to be eternally in a state of a duchess expecting the peasants to bring her bouquets of flowers. All the time she's in the -- in the readiness, ready for that sort of behavior of the public. Where does that come from? Where did she get the idea the public should worship her as almost a -- a -- a d -a d -- a -- a goddess?

[...]

MATTHEWS: I mean, what has she done? Let me just ask you a blunt question. What has she done? Has she ever passed a significant piece of legislation? Has she ever had a job? Has she ever won an Oscar? Has she ever written a book that she wrote herself? Has she ever actually done anything except as she put it, be a quote, "tireless advocate," whatever that is?

DIMITRIUS: Well, you know, Chris, what her -- her biggest -- her biggest advantage is right now is she stood by a philandering man for years.

MATTHEWS: Right. She -- OK. "My husband cheated on me, make me your senator."

DIMITRIUS: You betcha.

From the July 8, 1999, edition of Hardball:

MATTHEWS: Well, speaking of New York and the -- and the wealthy and the powerful in New York and the celebrity class, I was reading my favorite book the other day. It's called The Great Gatsby, and it's about a rich guy that lived up in New York, a bootlegger. Here's a bootlegger -- it's -- it's -- it talks about a guy moving to New York, to Long Island, buying the biggest house he can find and asking all the people that live in surrounding houses to thatch their roofs so that his house will seem more prominent. Of course, they refused to do that 'cause they are Americans, and here's what F. Scott Fitzgerald, the author, said: "Americans are willing to be serfs, but they've always been obstinate about being peasants." Paul Costello, why is every New Yorker in politics or not in politics bowing down to Hillary Clinton saying, "Of course, Duchess Hillary, we wouldn't presume to run for the Senate from our own state. We want you to come in and take the job for us"? This is -- this is yeoman behavior, not American behavior, isn't it?

[...]

MATTHEWS: Not anymore. Let me ask you, Julia -- let's talk about the double standard and have some fun here. I cannot imagine a male going to a state he's never lived in and saying, "Make me your U.S. senator because my wife's been cheating on me."

JULIA REED (Newsweek contributing editor): Well, that's --

MATTHEWS: I mean, it's hilarious, but isn't that her main claim, that she's the victim of the -- of the -- of the year?

REED: Yeah, that is exactly what's made her into a celebrity. Without Monica Lewinsky, no one would have asked Hillary Clinton to think about running for the Senate. I mean, forget about it. The only reason she's there is because Bill Clinton, who had been cheating on her forever, all of a sudden cheated on her on a -- like, on a -- in a bigger way --

MATTHEWS: Now it's an election ca -- it's a bumper sticker. "My husband cheated on me, make me senator."

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Gender
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Chris Matthews
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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