MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews had always been a big admirer of now-former Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, so he was naturally beside himself on Tuesday night as he gave a news brief on Kane being found guilty of nine criminal charges stemming from a series of leaks to a grand jury concerning a legal and political rival.
After major broadcast networks CBS and NBC had ignored the story and hours before ABC buried it on ABC’s Nightline, Matthews devoted just under 30 seconds to fretting “[w]hat a downfall” for the “rising star” Kane who was adored by former President Bill Clinton as he played a key role in fundraising and cutting ads for the 2012 Attorney General race.
“Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane resigned today after being convicted on nine criminal charges. Prosecutors argue that Kane leaked information about a rival prosecutor and then lied about it to a grand jury,” Matthews explained.
Matthews then reminded viewers that Kane was “not too long ago a rising star in Pennsylvania politics and the first woman ever elected to her position” and in the course of the trial, she “had already lost her legal license but had refused to step down until [Wednesday].”
You couldn’t see Matthews’s face amidst the file photos of Kane on the screen, but the disappointment in his voice was palpable as he concluded: “Kane could face prison time. She’ll be sentenced within 90 days. What a downfall.”
Later in the program, Washington Post writer Anne Gearan brought up Kane again in the “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” segment and reminded Matthews of Kane’s close ties to Bill Clinton since Kane had worked for Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign while her 2012 AG primary opponent had endorsed then-Senator Obama.
As then-NewsBusters contributing writer Mark Finkelstein wrote in February 2013, Matthews brought on Kane to fawn over her status as a “rising star” and allowed her to spout off about gun control and make this claim that could, at best, be ruled a stretch:
I think the people of Pennsylvania would accept a limit on the amount of clips. You know, I believe and I think a lot of people feel the same way that you don't have a right to go into a classroom and take down a class of children in under a minute.
The relevant portions of the transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on August 16 can be found below.
August 16, 2016
7:18 p.m. Eastern
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane resigned today after being convicted on nine criminal charges. Prosecutors argue that Kane leaked information about a rival prosecutor and then lied about it to a grand jury. Once — not too long ago a rising star in Pennsylvania politics and the first woman ever elected to her position, Kane had already lost her legal license but had refused to step down until today. Kane could face prison time. She’ll be sentenced within 90 days. What a downfall.
7:52 p.m. Eastern
ANNE GEARAN: Okay, so earlier in the show, you mentioned Kathleen Kane —
MATTHEWS: A sad fall —
GEARAN: — the Pennsylvania — her downfall is well known, but her rise is less so and it is due in part to her ties to the Clintons. She was — she worked for Hillary Clinton in 2007, resigned her district attorney job to do that and then Bill Clinton went all in for her in 2012, in large part because her primary opponent had backed Hillary — excuse me — had backed Obama over Hillary and Bill never forgave him for that.
MATTHEWS: Pat Murphy.
GEARAN: Yeah, exactly. He did a fundraiser, an ad, and some appearances for her.
MATTHEWS: So Bill backed the wrong horse here.
GEARAN: Turns out that way.
MATTHEWS: I love Pat Murphy. I got nothing against Kane, but I like Pat Murphy.