Hillary Clinton and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews were in the middle of taping a town hall in Springfield, Illinois, when it happened: The crew cut for commercial, but Clinton and Matthews’s microphones remained live, broadcasting their behind-the-scenes conversation for reporters in a separate screening room to hear. Ruby Cramer of BuzzFeed News recorded the exchange, which began with Clinton talking about Donald Trump. “Man, you guys cannot talk stop talking about him,” she said to Matthews. “He is a dangerous presence and, you know, it’s just like candy by the bushel.” Matthews replied: “We dip into him, dip out of him. We have a progressive audience, obviously. But nobody can tell what people want to watch.”
“Yeah,” Clinton said, adding that people “want to watch him.” “To laugh at him,” Matthews replied.
It was a rare unscripted moment for Clinton. Although both she and Sanders condemned Trump in Ohio — “Donald Trump is responsible for what happens at his events,” she said, “He’s been not just inciting violence, but applauding it” — Clinton hasn’t voiced her frustrations over petty concerns such as the sheer amount of media attention Trump receives. But it must be taxing to run against a walking, talking circus act whose tweets alone are considered news.
The conversation moved to Chris Christie, with Clinton asking Matthews, “Why did he support [Trump]?” and Matthews speculating about Christie’s future in New Jersey politics. Then they discuss Ben Carson, whom Matthews has apparently known “forever.”
Clinton: “You have? Did you know him when he was at John’s Hopkins, too?”
Matthews: “He was very soft spoken, never said a thing.”
Clinton: “And he was a brilliant surgeon by all accounts.”
Matthews said Carson’s voice reminds him of Tommy Smothers, a comedian from the ’60s. “Remember Tommy Smothers?”
Clinton: “I do! The Smothers Brothers! It’s so funny. When I talk about things like that with my staff, they’re so young … ”
Matthews: “Try Sid Caesar. Try Sid Caesar. Try Sid Caesar.”
Clinton: “Ed Sullivan!”
Matthews: “So, did you watch the end of Downton Abbey?”
Sadly, the mic cut out just before Clinton could voice her thoughts on the downfall of a moneyed aristocracy in the 20th century.