- The Washington Times
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews came to the defense of White House press secretary Sean Spicer for saying Adolf Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons during World War II — a line Mr. Matthews also used when talking about the Syrian Civil War in 2013.

Mr. Matthews said Mr. Spicer was likely referring to the fact that the former German chancellor did not resort to using chemical weapons on the battlefield even when defeat was imminent.

“What do you make of this Spicer — well, I’ll call it a faux pas — because I think he was thinking, you know, I remember growing up hearing from my father and others that, you know, in World War I the gas was used,” Mr. Matthews said Tuesday on “Hardball.” “I remember all the horrible pictures coming out of World War I from battlefield use of gas and the gas masks and what it did to people. And even when Hitler, the worst person ever perhaps, was surrounded, they didn’t resort to that in the battlefield. I think that’s what clearly — that’s what I think Spicer was talking about.”

Mr. Spicer has come under fire for suggesting the gas attacks used by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad were beyond the pale even for the former Nazi dictator, who gassed millions of Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust.

“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” Mr. Spicer said at his press briefing Tuesday. “You know, you had a — you know, someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to the — to using chemical weapons.”

He apologized for those comments almost immediately and said the comparison was especially “inappropriate” during the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Mr. Matthews may be sympathetic with Mr. Spicer’s plight because he made the same comparison in 2013.

“If you basically put down a red line and say don’t use chemical weapons, and it’s been enforced in the Western community, around the world — international community for decades — don’t use chemical weapons,” Mr. Matthews said in 2013 on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “We didn’t use them in World War II, Hitler didn’t use them. We don’t use chemical weapons. That’s no deal.”

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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