MSNBC's Chris Matthews absent from air amid sexual harassment allegations

Longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews was absent from the network's live coverage of the South Carolina primary on Saturday, one day after being accused of sexual harassment by GQ columnist Laura Bassett.  

Among other allegations, Bassett in a GQ opinion piece published Friday claimed Matthews told a network makeup artist to "keep putting makeup on her" and asked, "Why haven't I fallen in love with you yet?"

"In 2016, right before I had to go on his show and talk about sexual-assault allegations against Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE, Matthews looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, 'Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet,'" Bassett wrote. "When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the makeup artist. 'Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her.'"

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"Another time, he stood between me and the mirror and complimented the red dress I was wearing for the segment. 'You going out tonight?' he asked. I said I didn’t know, and he said—again to the makeup artist—'Make sure you wipe this off her face after the show. We don’t make her up so some guy at a bar can look at her like this,'" Bassett also wrote.

"I’m pretty sure that behavior doesn’t rise to the level of illegal sexual harassment," she added. "But it undermined my ability to do my job well. And after I published a story about it, even though I didn’t name him, dozens of people reached out to say they knew exactly who it was."

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Matthews, 74, who has been the host of "Hardball" for more than 20 years and has been a fixture of MSNBC's political coverage during big events, has also been at the center of controversy in recent days for remarks comparing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Overnight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders pushes on in 2020 race MORE's (I-Vt.) decisive win in the Nevada caucuses to the Nazis taking France in 1940.

Criticism quickly poured in on social media over Matthews using the analogy as it pertains to Sanders. The senator and Democratic presidential candidate is Jewish, and most of his family died in the Holocaust.

Mike Casca, who serves as Sanders's 2020 communications director, was among the critics of Matthews.

Matthews apologized for the comparison last Monday on the air, but the former speechwriter for Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterWise words revisited: 'There is simply no way to avoid sacrifice' Budowsky: President Trump, meet with all former living presidents Is coronavirus the final Trump crisis? MORE found himself in hot water again after confusing Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison (S.C.) for Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottHow much damage? The true cost of the Senate's coronavirus relief bill Senate unanimously passes T coronavirus stimulus package Senate rejects GOP attempt to change unemployment benefits in coronavirus stimulus bill MORE (R-S.C.) in a clip that quickly went viral and led to more online criticism.

The Hill has reached out to MSNBC for comment.