Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball, announced on-air Monday that he’s retiring, effective immediately, from the long-running political talk show. The decision arrives following a series of controversial remarks on the program and amid accusations that he made inappropriate comments about a journalist’s appearance in 2016.
Matthews, 74, recently drew criticism after comparing Bernie Sanders’ Nevada caucus victory to the Nazi invasion of France during World War II. He also earned blowback for a tense interview with Elizabeth Warren, asking the Senator if she believed Mike Bloomberg was lying when he denied pressuring a former employee to have an abortion during her time with his company.
In a GQ column published Friday, journalist Laura Bassett alleged that Matthews commented on her appearance before a Hardball episode. “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?'” she wrote.
“Obviously, this [retirement] isn’t for lack of interest in politics,” Matthews said on Monday’s Hardball. “After a conversation with MSNBC, I decided tonight will be my last Hardball, so let me tell you why,” he noted. “The younger generation’s out there ready to take the reins. We see them in politics, in the media, in fighting for their causes. They’re improving the workplace.”
While Matthews — who has hosted the show since its 1997 debut — didn’t specifically reference Bassett, he noted the importance of workplaces establishing “better standards than we grew up with — fair standards,” noting, “Compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were okay, were never okay. Not then and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”
After enthusing about his time on Hardball, saluting his producers and thanking his viewers, Matthews signed off. As CNN reports, the show resumed after a commercial break with Steve Kornacki as fill-in host. “I’m sure you’re still absorbing that, and I am too,” he said. “Chris Matthews is a giant. He’s a legend, it’s been an honor for me to work with him.”
An MSNBC spokesman told The New York Times Monday that a rotating group of hosts will fill that time slot until a permanent replacement is hired.