Hunter Commencement Degraded By Inclusion Of Matthews


June 1, 2008

Dear Hunter College Community,

As you may know, MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews has been invited to speak at Hunter’s graduation day ceremony on Wednesday, June 4th. Administrative staff at Hunter looked for a speaker who could address political issues in this election year and decided to invite MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. After agreeing to speak, Olbermann then backed out of his commitment and instead of returning to the drawing board, a Hunter staff member called MSNBC to see who they could send in Olbermann’s place. Matthews was offered and accepted. There was no formal vetting or real consideration given to the selection of this particular graduation speaker.

Mr. Matthews has gained notoriety throughout the country for years of insensitive, sexist comments on his show “Hardball” and his insulting treatment of women—not only, most visibly, Senator Clinton but also his television colleagues who happen to be female. Matthews referred to Clinton as a “she devil,” called her a “strip-teaser” and “witchy.” He has referred to men who support her as “castratos in the eunuch chorus.” He has commented on the physical appearance of women including his CNBC colleague Erin Burnett, calling her “beautiful” and “a knockout” during a discussion of economic news. In an interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards, Matthews asked the former Senator, “Does she bite your balls like this when you go home?” He then went on to ask, “What is this with the equal marriages? Why do people marry their equals? It used to be different. What happened to the Stepford wives? The good old days?” These are but a small sample of Matthews’s on-air sexist comments.

It is, in our view, disgraceful for Hunter College, for all of us who love this institution and most of all for our present and future students who look to Hunter as a bastion of women’s empowerment, to confer this honor on someone whose words in public so contradict the most basic feminist and civic values. Inviting him to be our speaker is asking him to represent Hunter College on this important occasion, and this should never have happened. We are outraged.

We urge President Jennifer Raab to adopt a process in the future that would prevent such mistakes. We hope you’ll join us in this call to improve the process by which the college selects commencement speakers. Write to President Raab to encourage her to establish a more careful, transparent, and democratic process. Her email address is:


Students, Adjunct Faculty, Policy Committee of the
Women and Gender Studies Program

“Poetic and Well Done” says Chris Matthews of Clinton in Congress

“Poetic and well-done!” is Chris Matthews’ assessment of Hillary’s questioning of General Petraeus in Congress today. I must have died and gone to, uh, he-e-aven.

I didn’t hear Hillary’s entire segment, and honestly, okay, I’m getting ready to go to an event, but I could not understand a word that Obama said or a question that he asked. Well, most of his questioning was more like a speech or his own platform, but it sounded like a bunch of words, technically correct, but hard to make out — and I’m a pretty smart gal — and without much heart. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but that was also my impression of Obama during the debates. Good speechmaker, but during an actual one on one, or running a meeting, I felt his style might be a bit inaccessible, a little harsh.

Whereas, the supposedly hard to get along with, divisive Clinton, makes her points clearly, yet connected to life. She has definitely engaged, formed alliances, and crafted legislation with colleagues from across the aisle. She’s garnered public respect from lawmakers and journalists who’d previously tried to bring “Bill and Hill” to their knees over the years. During this afternoon’s committee questioning, Hillary seemed more liberal and ready to withdraw from Iraq than Obama did.

I’m going to see if I can find a link to that Matthews segment. Now would be a good time for Hillary to sign up for that Matthews’ college tour!!! I wonder if he’ll fawn over her the same way he did over Obama. I wish I had that tour interview (anyone?), but it was the equivalent of boxers or briefs. So sweet, that Chris. What a fan! Anyway, I digress. I’m a forgiving woman: For today, I’ll take that baby step of yours where you called Hillary Clinton “poetic” and characterized her performance as “well-done!”