MSNBC host Chris Matthews has inspired calls for his firing after he compared the rise of Sen. Bernard Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary to the Nazis conquering France in 1940.
Mr. Matthews made the explosive comparison after it became clear Saturday that Mr. Sanders would win the Nevada Democratic caucus. Mr. Matthews said that unless something drastic happens, it’s “pretty much over” for the other candidates.
“I’m reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940,” he said. “And the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over.’ And Churchill says, ‘How can it be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.’
“So, I had that suppressed feeling,” he added.
The comments outraged many Sanders supporters who pointed out that the Vermont senator, who is Jewish, lost many of his Polish family members during the Holocaust. At one point, #FireChrisMatthews became a trending topic on Twitter.
Mr. Sanders’ communications director, Mike Casca, slammed the MSNBC host’s comments on Twitter.
“Never thought part of my job would be pleading with a national news network to stop likening the campaign of a jewish presidential candidate whose family was wiped out by the nazis to the third reich. but here we are,” Mr. Casca wrote.
Andrew Bates, a spokesman for rival candidate Joe Biden, tweeted: “Nowhere in the vicinity of acceptable.”
Mr. Matthews opened his show Monday night with an apology to Mr. Sanders for the “bad” comparison, and he promised to do a better job at elevating the political discussion in the future.
“As I watched the one-sided results of Saturday’s Democratic caucus in Nevada, I reached for a historical analogy and used a bad one,” he said. “I was wrong to refer to an event from the first days of World War II. 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. This is going to be a hard-fought heated campaign of ideas.”
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