A MoveOn.org petition demanding that MSNBC suspend “Hardball” host Chris Matthews has garnered just under 10,000 signatures, even as the network has refused to address what Huffington Post called a “clear conflict of interest.”
The petition began in response to outrage over Matthews’ “constant shilling for Hillary Clinton.” The number of petition signees has almost tripled in size since The Daily Caller reported that Hillary Clinton’s biggest donors are bankrolling the congressional campaign of Matthews’ wife, Kathleen. (RELATED: Hillary Donors Helping Chris Matthews’ Wife Into Congress)
One woman who signed the petition said was “crying thinking ‘my’ media source is so biased.” Another petitioner called Matthews’ behavior an “egregious” conflict of interest. One man wrote: “I won’t be watching ‘Hardball’ any more, but MSNBC doesn’t care.” Many other signees added that they would no longer be watching MSNBC, citing Matthews’ “conflict of interest.”
Even some members of the media are calling for Matthews to be suspended. One Huffington Post article called the issue “a low point” for MSNBC in a piece titled “Chris Matthews Has A Clear Conflict of Interest When it Comes To Bernie Sanders.” Others in the media have sounded similar notes. The American Spectator wrote: “Matthews has a blatant conflict of interest. Surely, he has a vested interest in the outcome of Hillary vs. Bernie.”
MSNBC still has not addressed the issue.
If MSNBC were to suspend Matthews, it wouldn’t be the first time the network has pulled a journalist over conflict of interest problems. In 2010, MSNBC suspended Keith Olbermann after he was caught making donations to three different congressional campaigns. Matthews’ situation differs from Olbermann’s in that Matthews hasn’t personally donated to the Clinton campaign. His wife, Maryland congressional candidate Kathleen Matthews, has both endorsed Hillary Clinton and donated to her campaign. At the same time, several of Clinton’s biggest donors have donated to Matthews’ campaign, even though many of those donors don’t live in the same state (much less the same district) that Matthews’ seeks to represent. At least one Clinton campaign employee has donated to Matthews’ campaign as well.
In addition, the ties between the two campaigns seem to run even deeper. Kathleen Matthews’ campaign is working closely with lobbyist Heather Podesta, who hosted a swanky fundraiser for Matthews last July. Ms. Podesta also has been one of the top bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and has both professional and personal ties to the Clinton campaign. She married Tony Podesta — brother of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Although Heather and Tony later divorced, Heather kept the Podesta name. All three Podestas are involved with the Clinton campaign in one way or another.
Kathleen Matthews has Clinton ties of her own forged during her tenure for Marriott. As TheDC previously reported, she worked closely with the Clinton Foundation on a hotel project in Haiti. Both Marriott and the Clinton Foundation later came under scrutiny for their work on the project after it came to light that a Clinton Foundation donor had lobbied the State Department in favor of the hotel while Hillary was serving as secretary of state.
Whether or not MSNBC addresses the ties between Chris Matthews and Hillary Clinton, it’s clear Matthews’ credibility has suffered and it could also prove damaging to MSNBC.
As one signer of the MoveOn petition wrote, “Chris Matthews should be suspended for his obvious conflict of interest….I am getting tired of MSNBC. MSNBC doesn’t have a lot of viewers and cannot afford to lose people like me!”
Follow Peter Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson