Chris Matthews announced he was retiring, effective immediately, in a surprise statement at the beginning of his show, “Hardball” on MSNBC Monday, March 2.
You can watch the video of his full announcement later in this post or here.
“I’m retiring,” Matthews said. “This is the last ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC.”
The announcement from Matthews, 74, comes following a series of events that resulted in criticism of the host, including statements about Bernie Sanders, African-American lawmakers, and comments he had made to female journalists and coworkers. He said the split with MSNBC was an amicable one.
Here’s what you need to know:
Chris Matthews Was Due to Retire After More Than Two Decades With MSNBC
Matthews was due to retire in the near future, but the events of the past week played a factor into the timing of the move, an MSNBC spokesperson told NBC.
MSNBC aired a commercial following his announcement on Monday night’s program, and Matthews was gone when the program returned. Steve Kornacki, a political reporter for the network, took over the rest of the hour. He appeared shocked by the news.
“That was a lot to take in,” he said, adding he was honored to work with Matthews, and carried on with the news, talking about the response to the coronavirus.
Matthews was a former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter. He hosted “Hardball” since 1999. He also hosted “The Chris Matthews Show” from 2002 to 2013.
Chris Matthews Was the Subject of Recent Controversies Including Comments About Women, Bernie Sanders & Black Politicians
Chris Matthews faced a series of recent controversies, which he referenced in his retirement announcement.
“The younger generations out there are ready to take the reins,” he said.
He said he once thought it was appropriate to make comments about women’s appearance, but now understands those comments were never OK.
“For making such comments in the past, I’m sorry,” Matthews said on the broadcast.
Matthews had faced previous backlash for previous sexual harassment allegations. A GQ op-ed published Friday named Chris Matthews as a man who sexually harassed the author and referenced a 2017 article published in the Huffington Post.
“In 2017, I wrote a personal essay about a much older, married cable-news host who inappropriately flirted with me in the makeup room a few times before we went live on his show, making me noticeably uncomfortable on air. I was afraid to name him at the time for fear of retaliation from the network; I’m not anymore. It was Chris Matthews,” the article said. “In 2016, right before I had to go on his show and talk about sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump, Matthews looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?'”
He also drew criticism Friday for comparing Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada caucuses to the World War II Nazi takeover of France. Sanders’ aides had private discussions with MSNBC over the comments, according to The New York Times. Matthews later apologized for the comments.
On Friday, Matthews mistook the guest on his show, Jaime Harrison, a South Carolina Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, with Senator Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican. Both men are black. You can watch that portion of his show here.