Chris Matthews apologizes for making joke about 'Bill Cosby pill'

MSNBC host Chris Matthews apologized Friday after video footage surfaced showing him making a racy joke prior to an i...

Posted: Jan 14, 2018 10:44 AM
Updated: Jan 14, 2018 10:44 AM

MSNBC host Chris Matthews apologized Friday after video footage surfaced showing him making a racy joke prior to an interview with Hillary Clinton.

In the video, which was obtained and first reported by The Cut, Matthews is seen interacting with various individuals on a makeshift set in an Iowa fire station.

"Can I have some of the queen's waters? Precious waters?" Matthews asked. "Where's that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?"

Matthews can be seen snickering on the video, which was recorded prior to an interview with Clinton on January 5, 2016. Dozens of women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct, including some who say he drugged and raped his victims.

MSNBC declined to comment.

In a statement, Matthews offered a mea culpa for the remark.

"This was a terrible comment I made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines," Matthews. "I realize that's no excuse. I deeply regret it and I'm sorry."

A spokesperson for Clinton did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but aides to the former Democratic presidential candidate expressed revulsion and bewilderment over the footage.

Jennifer Palmieri, the Clinton campaign's communication director and a longtime Democratic operative, said watching the Matthews tape "makes me feel ill."

"As person who set up this interview and assured HRC & team I believed Chris would be fair, this makes me feel ill. Also watch the interview. As I recall he got pretty angry with her after she challenged him during foreign policy section," Palmieri tweeted.

"There are no words. Quit. Now," tweeted Tim Hogan, a former Clinton campaign spokesperson.

"I don't get the joke," added Jesse Lehrich, a former Clinton campaign aide.

A fast-talking political junkie, Matthews has served as the host of "Hardball," a fixture on MSNBC's programming lineup, since 1997. Before embarking on a career in television, he cut his teeth on Capitol Hill, serving as an aide to former Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill.

But his long tenure at the cable news network has not been without controversy, and the always-wired Matthews has been prone to making inappropriate remarks.

He apologized in 2008 after he said that Clinton became a U.S. senator and a leading presidential candidate only because "her husband messed around."

"That's how she got to be senator from New York," Matthews said at the time. "We keep forgetting it. She didn't win there on her merit."

In 2016, following a primary victory by then-candidate Donald Trump, Matthews was caught on mic fawning over Melania Trump as she was shown on screen.

"Did you see her walk? Runway walk," he could be heard saying. "My God is that good."

The Daily Caller reported last month that MSNBC made a separation-related payment to a former producer who accused Matthews of sexual harassment in 1999.

A spokesperson for the network said that Matthews was formally reprimanded at the time.

--CNN's Dan Merica contributed to this report.

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