MSNBC host Chris Matthews is obsessed with Bill Clinton’s sex life. Over the last four weeks, Matthews has incessantly raised baseless speculation that President Clinton may have an extramarital affair or engage in inappropriate behavior that would impact Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
He has called Clinton’s sex life the “800-pound gorilla stalking behind” Hillary Clinton, and suggested it would sink her presidential campaign. Earlier this month, Matthews asked about Bill Clinton’s “personal behavior” 10 separate times in a single interview.
Watch a video compilation:
Matthews’ baseless speculation has the effect of turning President Clinton into a liability for progressives, and Matthews isn’t alone. In December, the Washington Post questioned whether Bill Clinton will be the “biggest issue” in Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
But as Media Matters documented, “nowhere does the article offer any concrete evidence that Bill Clinton is anything but an asset to his wife or that the public sees in him the ‘massive and messy distraction’ the article suggests the ‘media-industrial complex’ sees.” A Feb. 15 Gallup report found that Bill Clinton’s approval rating, “more than six years after leaving office, is near an all-time high.”
MATTHEWS: I love the way you smile. I’m just thinking, is Bill Clinton going to stop trying to play Holly Golightly up in New York. I’m just wondering when he stops that, if he’s doing it, she’ll be better off.
MATTHEWS: Here to dig into all are the HARDBALLers, the Washingtonpost.com’s Chris Cilizza and Lynn Sweet of “The Chicago Sun-Times.” Lynn, “The Washington Post’s” Ann Kornblut is on this program a lot, wrote this big piece this weekend about, once again, Bill Clinton’s the target of conversation. Is this going to go away, or does he have to issue a statement of some kind, I’m not going to be a problem for my wife’s campaign? How’s this going to end, this buzz?
MATTHEWS: Tuesday, and then Maureen Dowd of The New York Times published Geffen’s piercing critique of Hillary and husband Bill. Quote, “’I don’t think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden, Bill Clinton has become a different person’…
MATTHEWS: After The New York Times, Michelle, a couple of — couple of months ago wrote that big front page piece saying the Democrats are worried about Bill Clinton’s personal behavior right now, not ’98. The Clinton response to that, the campaign response is ‘That’s personal, that’s private.’ That’s a fallback position from ‘There’s no trouble there.’ It’s like saying, ‘Don’t talk about that stuff, whatever it is.’
Ms. NORRIS: Well, you…
MATTHEWS: Is that going to work?
MATTHEWS: Mike Barnicle, I didn’t think the Bill and Hillary issue would get — the husband issue would get so hot so fast, and now you got this guy, David Geffen, a liberal money-raising guy out in California, Hollywood, in Tinseltown, raising the issue of Bill Clinton’s personal behavior so early in the campaign.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Below the belt? Is it wrong for a Democrat like Barack Obama to say Bill Clinton’s personal behavior could be a great Republican issue in 2008? …
MATTHEWS: Does your side, the Clinton side, believe it’s a foul for any shot against Bill Clinton, the fact that he was impeached or anything to do with his personal behavior? You believe that’s a foul? …
MATTHEWS: Has anyone in the campaign, you or John — does Ann Lewis or Howard Wolfson — Howard Wolfson — does anybody have the status to walk up to Hillary and say, you have got to get Bill together on this; he could distract from this campaign; let’s make sure a winning campaign doesn’t become a losing campaign because of personal behavior?
MATTHEWS: It’s like she didn’t know anything about Bill and his behavior? How many times is she going to be confused by men?
MATTHEWS: Is your friend Bill going to be in this campaign? Going to be busy with the campaign, not get any distractions going with other things?
MCAULIFFE: He`s going to be very busy.
MATTHEWS: No distractions? He`s writing a book.
MCAULIFFE: He`s got a distraction right now. He`s writing a book for the next two months.
MATTHEWS: Will he distract our attention from his wife by misbehavior?
MCAULIFFE: No sir.
MATTHEWS: He won’t? He’s going to be a good boy?
MCAULIFFE: His wife is running for president. He`s going to do everything — he`s the most popular man in the world today.
MATTHEWS: It doesn’t kill me if he does distract from this campaign. We do not want to go back to 1998. Some people do.
MATTHEWS: Is Bill Clinton going to be a problem in this campaign?
LEWIS: Absolutely not.
MATTHEWS: Is he going to behave himself?
LEWIS: Bill Clinton has been around — in the first place, he’s been around the world saving lives.
MATTHEWS: Is he going to behave himself?
LEWIS: He’s going to do what he does best.
MATTHEWS: Is he going to behave himself…
LEWIS: Yes, he is.
MATTHEWS: … not cause a publicity that gets her embarrassed? …
LEWIS: There’s no there there. No. I think Bill Clinton is going to continue doing his work, going around the world, saving lives.
MATTHEWS: So he’s going to behave himself.
LEWIS: He’s going to be out on the campaign trail…
MATTHEWS: And he’s going to behave himself so Hillary can be the first woman president.
LEWIS: You’re all going to be applauding…
MATTHEWS: I think it’d be great for the country … if we were not once again distracted…
LEWIS: So do I.
MATTHEWS: … by what you call private life. And I think the way to avoid getting distracted is to have nothing there to distract us.
LEWIS: Well, I agree with that. But we just spent how many minutes of this segment, three minutes, talking about there should be nothing to distract us? Why don’t we stop talking about it and talk about the issues?
MATTHEWS: Well, because I want to have some assurances from people that I trust and like to spread the word that…
LEWIS: Why don’t you watch…
MATTHEWS: … he better watch it …
LEWIS: … what he’s been doing? Why not see what he’s done for the last…
MATTHEWS: I am watching, unfortunately. Anyway, thank you, Ann Lewis
MATTHEWS: …So we don’t know what she was thinking. That audience, though, was keyed to laugh, thinking she was kidding about her husband’s philandering, Monica Lewinsky and all that. What I’m asking is, is she that unaware of that 800-pound gorilla stalking behind her, the baggage of her husband?