Chris Matthews apologizes for joking about a ‘Bill Cosby pill’

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's "Hardball." MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Andre Chung
Andre Chung/Washington Post/File
Chris Matthews.

WASHINGTON — MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews joked about drugging then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton before sitting down with her for an interview in early 2016, according to exclusive outtake footage published by New York magazine’s The Cut Friday.

“Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” he asked. The joke was a reference to accusations that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted women.

He laughed while staffers around him prepped for the Jan. 5, 2016, interview at an Iowa fire station during the Democratic primary season.


Matthews also asked before interviewing the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, “Can I have some of the queen’s waters? Precious waters,” according to the outtake footage.

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The release of the footage comes as the nation reckons with sexual assault and harassment, with near-daily revelations about men falling from positions of power in entertainment, business, the media and politics.

Matthews apologized for his remarks in a statement Friday, and said his comments were “made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines.”

“I realize that’s no excuse. I deeply regret it and I’m sorry,” he said.

Matthews has made denigrating comments about Clinton before, calling her “witchy,” a “she-devil” and “Madame Defarge,” a reference to the villainous character in “A Tale of Two Cities.” In 2005, he questioned if troops would take orders from her as president. He once pinched her cheek after an interview, and, in 2008 said, “the reason she’s a US senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around.” He later apologized.


In December, The Daily Caller reported that NBC paid $40,000 to a female staffer after she accused Matthews of sexual harassment. The payment was intended as a settlement, though some sources disputed the number, saying it was lower and part of a severance package. Matthews was reprimanded, an MSNBC spokesman said at the time. The network said his comments were inappropriate but not intended to be taken as propositions.

Matthews has hosted “Hardball” since 1997. From 2002 until 2013, he also hosted “The Chris Matthews Show.”