'Hardball' Host Chris Matthews At Center Of NBC Scandal

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Chris and Kathleen MatthewsChris and Kathleen Matthews

MSNBC's “Hardball” host Chris Matthews may have broken his promise to be transparent on contributions made to his wife’s congressional campaign.

When his wife Kathleen Matthews announced she would be running as a Democrat for the open congressional seat in Maryland’s eighth District, Chris said on his show that he would be “transparent and fair in our coverage,” the New York Post reports.

His transparency has come into question after it was uncovered that Kathleen received $79,050 in campaign contributions from prominent former and current politicians who have appeared on Chris’ show.

“As a journalist, I also know how important it is to respect certain boundaries on my support for her both in my public role and here on MSNBC,” Chris said on his show.

“And while most of you know that our show doesn’t typically cover congressional races, I will continue to fully disclose my relationship with her as part of MSNBC’s commitment to being transparent and fair in our coverage,” he added.

Chris neglected to mention any of the campaign contributions made to his wife by show guests.

Using Federal Election Commission data and “Hardball” transcripts, The Intercept found that 48 frequent guests on Chris’ show have made donations to his wife’s campaign.

As of December 31, 2015, $79,050 in campaign contributions were received by either the individuals themselves, their spouses or their political action committees.

Their contributions totaled about five percent of the $1.5 million Kathleen had raised as of that time.

Some of the guests' donations were made after they appeared on “Hardball,” while at least 11 donated before they appeared on the show, a fact that was not disclosed under Chris’ transparency promise.

Campaign finance experts who spoke with The Intercept said they do not believe the contributions violate FEC guidelines. They also do not fall under FCC Payola rules, where a person receives payment in exchange for putting a person on a program, because they do not apply to cable stations and programs.

There is also the fact that it was Chris’ wife who received the payments, and not him personally.

The many contributions Kathleen received may just be because of the political connections Chris has in Washington. Some of the donors are veterans of the Obama, Clinton, George W. Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford and Nixon administrations. The donors also include lobbyists, corporate lawyers, advocacy organization leaders, consultants, campaign managers, a current cabinet official and members of the media.

MSNBC said in a statement obtained by the New York Post that it “does not book guests on the basis of political contributions. MSNBC's statement added that doing so would violate their "ethical obligation as journalists," as well as the "standards of NBC News.”

“Working women know it is possible to have their own career and not depend on their spouse for success,” Kathleen’s campaign manager, Ethan Susseles, said.

Sources: New York Post, The Intercept / Photo credit: David Shankbone/Flickr

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