Hardball? More like curveball. Chris Matthews announced his retirement from MSNBC on Monday night’s broadcast of his famous show. Matthews has hosted the program for over 20 years.
The announcement came rather out of the blue, at the top of the broadcast. No one had any idea this was even a possibility, leaving many to wonder why it happened so suddenly.
The seeming haste of it all could have something to do with a recent pattern of controversy that has followed Matthews.
Matthews started Monday’s broadcast by saying,
“Let me start with my headline tonight: ‘I’m retiring. This is the last Hardball on MSNBC, and obviously this isn’t for lack of interest in politics,” he said.
“As you can tell, I’ve loved every minute of my 20 years as host of Hardball,” he continued. “Every morning I read the papers and I’m gung-ho to get to work. Not many people have had this privilege. … I’m very proud of the work I’ve done here. I love working with my producers and the discussions we have over how to report the news, and I love having this connection with you, the good people who watch. I’ve learned who you are, bumping into you on the sidewalk or waiting at an airport and saying hello.”
He went on, “After a conversation with MSNBC, I decided tonight will be my last Hardball, so let me tell you why. The younger generation is out there ready to take the reins. We see them in politics, in the media, in fighting for the causes. They have improved the workplace. We’re talking about better standards than we grew up with — fair standards.”
Matthews went on to reference a 2016 controversy in which guest Laura Bassett accused Matthews of sexual harassment. She said he said things like “Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” and other undisclosed comments that she found “gross and inappropriate.” In the #MeToo era, this kind of talk is as gross and off putting as talking flu symptom relief amidst news of the coronavirus.
Matthews has since apologized, but his mentioning of it again on last night’s broadcast implies that it’s part of the reason he’s leaving the network.
“Compliments on a women’s appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were OK were never OK. Not then and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”
Matthews also recently made news for mistaking two African American politicians for each other. Beyond that, he compared Bernie Sanders’ rise in the polls to Nazi Germany’s invasion of France in World War II. Major yikes on both counts.
The 74-year-old Matthews says he will continue to comment on politics through writing books and cheering on his friends at MSNBC.
Before leaving the studio for good and letting Steve Kornacki take over, he wrapped up the announcement:
“I hope you’re going to miss me, because I’m going to miss you. But remember Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca: We’ll always have Hardball. So let’s not say ‘Goodbye,’ but ‘Till we meet again.'”