Veteran MSNBC host Chris Matthews said he’s retiring from his show “Hardball,” citing his inappropriate comments about women.
Matthews opened his program Monday with the announcement he was ending his run on the political hour that he started in 1997. He decided to retire after conversations with MSNBC, he said, his explanation coming in his familiar, staccato style.
“This is the last ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC, and obviously this isn’t for lack of interest in politics,” he said, referring to a need for a generational change.
“Compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men, including me, might have incorrectly thought were OK were never OK,” he said. “Not then, and certainly not today, and for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”
He remained proud of the work he ‘s done on the show, he said. “Hardball” began on CNBC and moved two years later to MSNBC.
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Matthews’ announcement came on the heels of a a first-person story for GQ published Feb. 28, in which freelance journalist Laura Bassett said Matthews behaved inappropriately toward her when she was guest on his show.
“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?’ When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the makeup artist. ‘Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her,'” Bassett wrote. “Another time, he stood between me and the mirror and complimented the red dress I was wearing for the segment. ‘You going out tonight?’ he asked.”
Bassett said she written about the encounter in a 2017 essay but didn’t name Matthews because she was afraid of network retaliation, adding, “I’m not anymore.”
Last month, Matthews had a politically prompted clash with with Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders. The host apologized to the Vermont senator for comparing his win in the Nevada caucus to the Nazi takeover of France.
Matthews’ self-described “bad” analogy deepened the discontent that the presidential candidate and his supporters have been feeling lately toward the cable network, one that is usually friendly territory for liberals. He said he’d try to do a better job elevating the debate this campaign season.