Dear Commons Community,
Chris Matthews retired last night from his longtime role as host of Hardball following an allegation that he “inappropriately flirted” with a female guest.
The MSNBC anchor shared the shocking news at the start of his show, announcing on-air, “I want to start with my headline tonight: I’m retiring.”
“This is the last ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC and obviously this isn’t for a lack of interest in politics,” he added.
An MSNBC insider told The Washington Post that network executive Phil Griffin told Matthews this weekend in Washington, DC, where “Hardball” is filmed, that “he had to resign or retire immediately.”
“The news was kept a secret at the network until around 6 p.m. on Monday when all the senior staff were informed Matthews would retire at the top of his show, at 7 p.m.,” the insider said.
Matthews said he’s leaving his post to make way for “younger generations” who are “improving the workplace.”
NBC News’ National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki took over Monday night’s show after a commercial break.
On Friday, freelance journalist Laura Bassett published a column in GQ, accusing Matthews of making inappropriate advances toward her twice as she readied herself to appear on his show. This was
Bassett wrote about the incidents in 2017 but didn’t name Matthews at the time.
During one instance in 2016, Matthews allegedly “looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?’” Basset wrote.
Without addressing Bassett, or those alleged instances, Matthews on Monday night apologized for past comments on women’s appearances.
“A lot of it has to do with how we talk to each other, compliments on a woman’s appearance, that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were OK, were never OK,” Matthews said in explaining why he was leaving.
“Not then, and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”
Bassett reacted to Matthews’ resignation on Twitter. “All I gotta say is… it’s about time,” she wrote.
She followed up those remarks by writing, “Since calling out Chris Matthews, this week has been really rough.”
“The harassment has been invasive, cruel and personal. And it’s all worth it if he will never have the platform to demean and objectify us again.”
Bassett’s allegations were just the latest in a series of setbacks suffered by Matthews.
While covering President Trump’s South Carolina rally last Friday, he mistook Jaime Harrison, a Democratic Senate candidate who he was interviewing, with Republican Senator Tim Scott. Both Scott and Harrison are black.
Matthews was slammed by progressives after last Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate for asking Sen. Elizabeth Warren why she believed a woman who accused Michael Bloomberg of pressuring her to have an abortion while working at his company.
Then days earlier, Matthews was widely criticized for comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Nevada caucus win with Nazi Germany’s defeat of France in 1940. He later apologized, calling the comparison a “bad” analogy.
Another MSNBC insider said Matthews’ recent gaffes contributed to his sudden departure.
“Chris was already on his way out because of his comments about Sanders, and his interview with Elizabeth Warren,” the network insider said. “NBC and MSNBC will not tolerate any inappropriate behavior.”
Mathews had become an institution at MSNBC but he has made a lot of recent mistakes.