Whoops. Chris Matthews just said the quiet part loud.
During mid-afternoon coverage of the Nevada caucus, the MSNBC host suggested Democratic Party elites would prefer to see President Donald Trump beat Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the 2020 frontrunner who overwhelmed his competition with a blowout win in Saturday’s contest.
“I’m wondering if the Democratic moderates want Bernie Sanders to be President?” Matthews asked out loud during a discussion with Politico’s Elena Schneider. “I mean, that’s maybe too exciting a question to raise–they don’t like Trump at all. Do they want Bernie Sanders to take over the Democratic Party in perpetuity?”
Another on-air guest essayed a “Well–” but he was quickly cut-off by the loud-speaking Hardball host.
“I mean, he takes it over, he sets the direction of the future of the party,” Matthews continued. “Maybe they’d rather wait four years and put in the Democrat that they like.”
Former Hillary Clinton adviser and Democratic Party strategist Adrienne Elrod eagerly agreed.
“That’s the big question, right?” Elrod said, “There are people that are concerned–strategists that are concerned–that Bernie Sanders being at the top of the ticket will force us to lose the House. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case.”
“How about the future?” Matthews interjected.
“It’s early,” Elrod continued.
“How about losing the future?” Matthews prodded again.
“It’s early,” Elrod repeated.
Matthews, not quite finished, later compared Sanders’ crushing victory in Nevada–and prospect of winning the nomination–to the fall of the French army at the Maginot Line during World War II. Or, in simpler terms–he compared the Jewish presidential candidate’s win to the triumph of Nazism over the Third French Republic.
“[N]ever thought part of my job would be pleading with a national news network to stop likening the campaign of a [J]ewish presidential candidate whose family was wiped out by the [N]azis to the [T]hird [R]eich,” noted Sanders communication director Mike Casca. “[B]ut here we are.”
Many people viewed Matthews’ meltdown as evidence that the MSNBC host–who describes himself as a Democrat–is readying himself and his audience to support Trump’s reelection bid if Sanders’ steady stream of primary wins snowballs into an ultimate victory over the party stalwarts and apparatchiks he has long shunned.
“This is terrible and dumb commentary,” noted national security attorney Bradley P. Moss–about yet another Matthews reaction to Sanders’ decisive win.
Journalist and attorney Glenn Greenwald tweeted a typical criticism:
With the Sanders surge, one MSNBC host – one of their highest-paid and most prominent ones – now positioning himself to back Trump’s re-election after 4 years of non-stop alarmism about Trump the fascist dictator Russian puppet posing an existential threat to US democracy.
Chicago Alderman and former congressional candidate Carlos Ramirez-Rosa also called Matthews out over his comments via Twitter.
“The extent to which MSNBC isn’t even pretending any more – they’re just an all-out, unmitigated STOP-SANDERS!! propaganda outlet – is astonishing to watch even for those of us who have long held it in contempt,” Greenwald added in a separate tweet.
“[Chris Matthews] finally comes clean! ‘Moderate Dems’ like him prefer Trump over a progressive like Bernie,” Ramirez-Rosa wrote. “This is disgusting! ‘Moderate Dem’ leaders must disavow this, and the only way they can is to immediately drop their opposition to frontrunner Bernie.”
Journalist Jordan Chariton cast Matthews suggestion as a betrayal of the host’s own viewership: “For the African American, Latinos, LGBTQ, Muslim, and working poor white people who watch [MSNBC]. How does it feel that [Chris Matthews]–who makes $5 million annually–thinks 4 more years of Trump may be better than [Bernie Sanders]?”
Other users were simply shocked and outraged:
chris matthews really said trump winning would be a better outcome for democrats??
— David Forum (@zlingray) February 22, 2020
Amen, Thom. And Chris Matthews is starting to talk about how four more years of Trump might be preferable to the Bernie movement –https://t.co/YS9sMcwpm2
— Billionaire Bill Corbett (@BillCorbett) February 22, 2020
He’s calling for 4 more years of Trump over Sanders. Outrageous. pic.twitter.com/r1lUjdkq5F
— (@SocialistBoomer) February 22, 2020
Well well well. First it was Donny Deutsch telling Joe Scarborough that he would rather vote for Trump over Bernie and now Chris Matthews is suggesting that perhaps it would be better for Trump to win again. I thought MSNBC was supposed to be the liberal network. ♂️#NVCaucus https://t.co/bT0NvK9pn6
— Hans Michael Brecht (@Hansnfranz) February 22, 2020
Sanders, for his part, needled his critics within the Democratic Party’s establishment Friday on Twitter with a post that called them out by name–gloating about his would-be-and-apparently-in-the-process inevitable victory.
I’ve got news for the Republican establishment. I’ve got news for the Democratic establishment. They can’t stop us.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 22, 2020
[image via screengrab/MSNBC]