NEW YORK — MSNBC host and political analyst Chris Matthews has apologized to Sen. Bernie Sanders for using a Nazi analogy to describe his campaign following Sanders' victory in the Nevada caucuses Saturday.
Matthews made the comparison when it was clear Sanders was going to easily win the contest. Many in the beltway media have since declared Sanders the clear Democratic front runner after he took nearly half vote.
Matthews had said he was reminded of a French general reporting to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill that France had fallen to Germany in the summer of 1940.
“Churchill says, ‘how can it be over? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over,’” Matthews said. “He said, ‘it’s over.’”
Matthews quickly came under fire and not just from Sanders supporters. The hashtag #FireChrisMatthews started trending.
At the open of his show "Hardball" Monday, Matthews immediately addressed the backlash.
“Sen. Sanders, I’m sorry for comparing anything from that tragic era in which so many suffered, especially the Jewish people, to an electoral result in which you were the well-deserved winner,” Matthews said.
Sanders, who is of Jewish descent, has said that his memories of learning about how Jews were wiped out by Hitler in the Holocaust has impacted his political positions.
It was the second time in a week that an MSNBC host had spoken of such a comparison. "Meet The Press" host Chuck Todd, on air, read a segment of an article from The Bulwark comparing Sanders' supporters to a “digital Brownshirt brigade." As Encyclopedia Britannica describes it, the Brownshirts were a paramilitary group whose violent methods of intimidation played a role in Adolf Hitler's rise to power.
MSNBC is usually friendly territory for liberals. But according to The Associated Press, the Sanders campaign has recently expressed displeasure to network executives about its treatment of the campaign. An MSNBC spokesperson responded, saying that “we don’t owe fawning coverage to a Democratic campaign. We owe fair coverage.”
Vanity Fair, citing network insiders, reports MSNBC is now looking to bring in more pro-Sanders voices as the likelihood of him becoming the Democratic nominee increases.
Anand Giridharadas, an MSNBC contributor, was on the network Sunday morning and said many in the media, corporate and political establishment may not understand what is going on with a changing American electorate. He suggested the Democratic party may be stuck in an old way of thinking.
“It is time for all of us to step up, rethink and understand the dawn of what may be a new era in American life,” Giridharadas said.