Amber Athey of the Daily Caller exclusively reported last night that NBC paid large sums of money - upwards of tens of thousands of dollars- to Chris Matthews' assistant producer in 1999 after she brought forth sexual harassment complaints against the current MSNBC “Hardball with Chris Matthews” anchor.
Two sources familiar with the situation told the Daily Caller that Matthews paid $40,000 to settle a sexual harassment complaint with the unnamed woman, but an MSNBC spokesperson officially denied those monetary claims. However, they did say that the company paid the woman “significantly less as part of a severance package" and confirmed an incident occurred.
MSNBC maintains the company thoroughly reviewed the situation, formally reprimanded Matthews, and concluded a fire-able offense was not committed. While Matthews made comments that were crass and placed the employee in an uncomfortable position, they were simply jokes according to the spokesperson. The comments made by Matthews were “juvenile” and “inappropriate” but not to be taken literally, according to the company.
MSNBC did not confirm if this was the only claim against Matthews nor if the woman left the company solely due to this incident.
The story brings to mind previous on-air comments made by Matthews that were sexual in nature. In 2016, Matthews made comments about Melania Trump's "runway walk" seemingly unaware his mic was on.
“Look how she walks. Did you see her walk? That’s a runway walk. My God is that good...I could watch that runway show," he said.
Based on this initial report, the accusations against Matthews are far less egregious than the ones against his NBC colleagues Mark Halperin and Matt Lauer.
Halperin, a former NBC commentator and author, was fired in October after numerous women and fellow employees came forth with sexual assault allegations of groping and other unwanted physical contact. Likewise Lauer, a longtime NBC host of "The Today Show," was fired after a series of women alleged that he had made unwanted advances, lewd suggestions, and other hostile actions while at work.
Nonetheless, this is now the third high-profile NBC host in recent months to have previous sexual harassment accusations brought to light.