Matthews on Bill Clinton's Sex Scandals: 'I Was Too Tough on Clinton'

November 17, 2017

Chris Matthews expressed regret Friday for being "too tough" on former President Bill Clinton in 1998 when Clinton's sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky came to light.

On his show "Hardball," Matthews interrupted Stephanie Ruhle during their discussion on whether Clinton's "day of reckoning" had come. He interjected to say how tough he was on Bill Clinton at the time, going as far as to say he thinks he might have been too tough on Clinton.

"Has Bill Clinton's day of reckoning come?" Matthews said. "I think it has."

"We do know what happened; we knew the president was honest in his grand jury testimony," Matthews said.

He asked Ruhle: "What more needs to be said about that at this point all these years later?"

Ruhle contradicted Matthews' characterization of the scandal as hurting Clinton unfairly.

"We called it the Lewinsky scandal, we didn't call it the Clinton scandal, and we looked at Monica Lewinsky as a villain—come on, Chris, she was a victim," Ruhle replied.

Matthews then interrupted Ruhle to push back against hercomments.

"We did?" Matthews asked.

"Well many people did," Ruhle responded.

Matthews didn't leave it there; he went on reflecting on his coverage of Clinton during the scandal. He insisted repeatedly that he was tough on Clinton, even as Ruhle pushed back against the idea that Clinton faced tough consequences.

"Monica Lewinsky's life, to large part, was destroyed. Bill Clinton's wasn't," she added later.

"I'm trying to make up for the fact that I think I was too tough on Clinton," Matthews said as the segment concluded.

Matthews did not offer examples of being overly harsh on Clinton while scandals were occurring.

Interviewing Donald Trump back in 1998, Matthews said, "Right" when then-businessman Trump blamed Clinton’s lawyers for the negative consequences for his relationship with Lewinsky.

As recently as 2016, Matthews said people should be more deferential toward Clinton, expressing surprise that then-candidate Trump would bring up his sexual misconduct while campaigning against his wife, Hillary Clinton.

"It's hard to believe there's a corner of the unpleasant he's not willing to go into," Matthews said, rebuking Trump for criticizing Clinton.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) is one of many liberals who have been calling for the propriety of Clinton's sexual conduct to be reevaluated.