MSNBC host Chris Matthews issued an apology to Sen. Bernie Sanders on his program Monday, two days after comparing the self-described democratic socialist’s surging campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination to Nazi Germany’s conquest of Europe at the start of World War II.
“Before getting into tonight’s news, I want to say something quite important and personal,” Matthews said at the top of his nightly “Hardball” show. “As I watched the one-sided results of Saturday's Democratic caucus in Nevada, I reached for an historical analogy and used a bad one.
“Senator Sanders, I'm sorry for comparing anything from that tragic era in which so many suffered, especially the Jewish people, to an electoral result in which you were the well-deserved winner,” Matthews said. “This is going to be a hard-fought, heated campaign of ideas. And the days and weeks and months ahead, I'll strive to do a better job myself of elevating the political discussion.”
Chris Matthews apologizes to Bernie Sanders and his supporters for comparing Bernies NV win to Nazis taking France in WWII pic.twitter.com/gMq9mnq30i
On Saturday night, Matthews said Sanders’s dominating victory in the Nevada caucuses over more mainstream rivals was comparable to Adolf Hitler’s invasion of France.
Chris Matthews of CNBC
Chris Matthews of CNBC
NANTUCKET, MA - JUNE 19: Chris Matthews of CNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Matthews' attends a Nantucket Film Festival party on June 19, 1998. (Photo by Bill Brett/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
BURBANK, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: (NO U.S. TABLOID SALES) State Senator Tom McClintock (R) appears on CNBC''s Hardball with Chris Matthews September 30, 2003 in Burbank, CA. McClintock is running behind Arnold Schwarzenegger in his effort to replace Gov. Gray Davis. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)
P 360748 002 18NOV99 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Chris Matthews, left, and Donald Trump, right, pause during a break in the taping of MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Matthews,' at the University of Pennsylvania's Irvine Auditorium. Trump talked about the prospects of his running for President as the Reform Party candidate. Photo: William Thomas Cain / Newsmakers / Liaison Agency (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER OUT)
CAMBRIDGE, MA - OCTOBER 13: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards (D-NC) (R) appears with host Chris Matthews (L) during a live broadcast of MSNBC''s Hardball with Chris Matthews at Harvard University October 13, 2003 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Edwards spent the day appearing on the show, taping a student television talk show and answering questions at a student town hall meeting. (Photo by William B. Plowman/Getty Images)
Chris Matthews of 'Hardball' and 'The Chris Matthews Show' (Photo by Gregory Pace/FilmMagic)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Air Date 1/16/08 -- Episode 3477 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Chris Matthews of MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Matthews' and host Jay Leno during an interview on January 16, 2008 -- Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 02: Chris Matthews host of 'Hardball' speaks during the 'MSNBC' panel during the NBC Universal portion of the 2011 Summer TCA Tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
HARDBALL WITH CHRIS MATTHEWS -- Decision 2010 -- Pictured: Chris Matthews -- MSNBC's Chris Matthews during Hardball's coverage of 'Decision 2010' on November 2, 2010 (Photo by Virginia Sherwood/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - MAY 04: Hardball's news anchor Chris Matthews attends the 2010 TIME 100 Gala at the Time Warner Center on May 4, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 4: Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Matthews' and the weekly 'Chris Matthews Show,' delivers a National Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon address at the 25th annual Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation journalism awards luncheon for coverage of the presidency and for coverage of national defense issues. (Photo by Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 25: Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's 'Hardball', attends the 101st Annual White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 25, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 3: Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, discusses his new book 'Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero' at the National Constitution Center on November 3, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 275 -- Pictured: (l-r) Hardball host, Chris Matthews, during an interview with host Seth Meyers on October 14, 2015 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC -- SEPTEMBER 21: Coffee@WaPo: Religion in America, panelists discuss the Catholic Church in advance of Pope Francis' visit to DC.
The Francis Effect
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
Cardinal Wuerl and Washington Post Associate Editor Carlos Lozada
Church and State
Chris Matthews, Host, Hardball with Chris Matthews, MSNBC
Hon. Francis Rooney, Former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.)
Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.)
Full panel w/ Michelle Boorstein, Religion Reporter
. (photo by Andre Chung for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) -- Chris Matthews, Anchor, MSNBC's 'Hardball', Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent; Anchor, MSNBC's 'Andrea Mitchell Reports' appear on 'Meet the Press' in Philadelphia, PA on Sunday July 24, 2016. (Photo by: Bill McCay/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) ? Chris Matthews, Host, MSNBC?s ?Hardball? and Helene Cooper, Pentagon Correspondent, The New York Times appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, April 30, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Tom Barrack, Presidential Inaugural Committee Chairman, left, and Chris Matthews, Host, MSNBCs Hardball right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, January 22, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: Host of 'Hardball with Chris Matthews' Chris Matthews attends the White House Correspondents Dinner MSNBC After Party at Organization of American States on April 29, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/NBC via Getty Images)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
"I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940," Matthews said during MSNBC's live coverage of the caucus returns. "And the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, 'It's over.' And Churchill says, 'How can that be? You've got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?' He said, 'It's over.'"
If elected, Sanders would be America’s first Jewish president, yet Matthews’ remarks were the second time in as many weeks that an MSNBC host compared the campaign of the Democratic candidate, who himself lost relatives in the Holocaust to Nazi Germany, to the Nazis.
Earlier this month, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd read an article on the air comparing Sanders supporters to brownshirts, members of the Nazi army. Todd’s comments earned a condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League.
“As we enter a contentious campaign season, it is incumbent upon leaders & pundits to refrain from using offensive comparisons to the Holocaust,” wrote the organization on Twitter, linking to a story on Todd’s comments. “Doing so only diminishes the memories of the 6M Jews who were killed by Nazis & Nazi sympathizers.”
Supporters of Sanders have been livid at the cable network’s coverage of the primary, singling out other hosts, as well. Nicole Wallace, who served as a White House and campaign staffer for President George W. Bush, was visibly frustrated as the caucus results were coming in, frequently citing the warnings of James Carville, the Democratic strategist who has been urging the party to unite against Sanders because he’d be a general election disaster.
On Saturday night, Carville mused that Russian President Vladimir Putin was “happiest person right now” because of the Sanders insurgency.
"I think it's 1:15 Moscow time," Carville said. "This thing is going very well for Vladimir Putin, I promise you. He's probably staying up watching us right now. How ya doin, Vlad?"
And MSNBC’s Chris Jansing had a viral moment for deeply sighing on air when reporting that minority voters had broken for Sanders at the precinct she was monitoring.
"I think this is a wake-up moment for the American power establishment, for Michael Bloomberg, to those of us in the media, to the Democratic party," Giridharadas said. "Many in this establishment as they face the prospect of a Bernie Sanders nomination like out of touch Aristocrats in a dying aristocracy."
"Why is Chris Matthews on this air talking about the victory of Bernie Sanders — who had kin murdered in the Holocaust — analogizing it to the Nazi conquest of France?" Giridharadas added. "The people who are stuck in an old way of thinking, in 20th Century frameworks, gulag thinking, are missing what's going on."