Chris Matthews Retires from Hardball, Effective Tonight

Will whatever went down today at MSNBC between the network and Chris Matthews, host of Hardball, ever be fully explained? I'm not sure. But I suspect Matthews' sexist comments to a certain female and his inappropriate remarks about Hitler and Sanders, for which he apologized, are merely examples of why the network decided he was so incompatible with the politics of now as to have become obsolete.

Matthews seems to believe that covering politics today is the same as it was 20 years ago and the only changes are the names and faces of both those in front of the camera and those being interviewed. He likely believes his institutional knowledge of politics makes him a hugely valuable asset.


To be honest, I have always found Matthews' voice and speech pattern to be as annoying as that of woodpecker incessently tapping his beak into the wood on a tree outside the window. You just have to get up and close the window to get rid of the tap-tap-tap sound. (He's not as annoying to listen to as someone whose voice evokes the sound of nails on a chalkboard, but given other options of news hosts to listen to, I have always avoided his show. In other words, I'm biased and not in Matthews' favor. It's nothing personal.

That said, I also believe Matthews has lasted well past his expiration date. Rachel Maddow has been the face and voice of the network for a pretty long time.

I think Brian Williams has done a much better job of accepting the changing of the guard at the network than Matthews. (Of course, Williams may just be glad the network brought him back after his humiliating departure years ago for telling viewers about experiences and adventures he never had.) Williams has a family to support and may not have been been as financially secure as Matthews, so that he was willing upon his return not to be top dog and work his way back up the chain.

Again, to be fair, I only watch cable news when some big event happens. (And I guess for full disclosure, I was a paid MSNBC legal analyst back in the 90's and they treated me very well). My exposure to Williams after his return has been limited to hearing his show on the car radio a few times when driving back at night from distant jails. But he still has his pleasant, non-combative voice and he still seems more focused in reporting the news than challenging guests whose views he disagrees with. He also seems not to mind being part of a panel on event nights, rather than the leader. Matthews always seemed to me to be uncomfortable sharing the spotlight.

Matthews' willingness to decide on or agree to an immediate departure and retirement was probably not difficult as I doubt he needs the money or the job. In watching his announcement tonight, it struck me that his words and demeanor suggest someone who has been dying to do this for a long time -- there was a period of festering, and then the boil had to be pierced.

From MSNBC's perspective, Matthews' probably became a thorn in their side months ago, when it became rather obvious he was not willing or able to adapt and react to the politics of change as events unfold.

Matthews seems to always respond to events and guests and other panelists from the perspective of his own individual demograpic, which is not particularly relevant to today's younger viewers. Matthews' institutional knowledge is valuable for providing context gained from his decades of experience, but it can't be the central focus of a show whose purpose is to analyze the most cureent events in today's political world. It has to be like a side course to the entree. The entree is the politics of now, including those shaping it, who today are the activists for change.

How Reagan or even Obama would have reacted to today's events is about as exciting and relevant to younger viewers as talking about the war in Vietnam. They don't want to hear the politics of yesterday, which they make clear every day in their support for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. The network chiefs can probably hear them screaming into their phones as they stream Hardball, "Get over it already."

So what does Matthews do now? He may not be looking to change networks right now, since he doesn't need the money and would view going to a streaming-only or minor cable network as being put out to pasture. (think Lou Dobbs and Dan Rather)

Matthews must also recognize that no major network wants to hire someone who is 70 years old for an anchor position on a show like Hardball that airs in or close to a prime time period. It's easy to see how Shep Smith could do it, given that he's younger, better looking, smoother talking and trusted by viewers for his news reporting, rather than commentary.

If, as it seems to me, MSNBC and Matthews have been dissatisified with each other for a while, you can bet Matthews' agent has already approached other networks. If there was a proposal and acceptance, I think Matthews would have left in a more orderly fashion. Who makes a decision to retire at 4:00 and goes on the air at 5:00 the same day to announce his retirement, effective immediately? He didn't even come back on after his announcement, a substitute host came on.

I won't be surprised if Matthews, not having an ABC or CBS or CNN to immediately jump to, decides to cuddle up to Biden in hopes of becoming his press secretary should Biden get nominated and elected. That could be a fitting job for him given that Biden and Matthews are like two peas stuck in the pod of yesteryear.

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  • Display: Sort:
    With all due respect Jeralyn (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by hilts on Mon Mar 02, 2020 at 10:14:55 PM EST
    I think you're being profoundly unfair to woodpeckers.  I love the sound of woodpeckers and all other birds.

    Chris Matthews was a smarmy, bloviating ignoramus who helped to significantly lower the level of political discourse.  Good riddance to him!

    I don't cry (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by CST on Tue Mar 03, 2020 at 08:52:32 AM EST
    For the changing of the guard.  Especially when it's warranted.

    More than anything he was bad at his job, and has been for a while.

    Also, getting really tired of people freaking out that times have changed.  They didn't change that much - being a sexist has been a bad look for a while.  It just didn't have consequences.

    I found Mathews to be unwatchable, (5.00 / 3) (#5)
    by desertswine on Tue Mar 03, 2020 at 12:40:51 PM EST
    annoying, and a dinosaur.

    And those (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by Repack Rider on Thu Mar 05, 2020 at 10:59:59 AM EST
    ...were his good points.

    Good but (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by smott on Tue Mar 03, 2020 at 02:52:19 PM EST
    20 years too late.
    I hope the ridiculous Warren interview helped take him out.

    Liz has eviscerated a couple of sexists in recent weeks.

    Musical thread to celebrate Matthews ouster (none / 0) (#1)
    by hilts on Mon Mar 02, 2020 at 10:11:06 PM EST




    I wonder if he ends up on FOX. (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Tue Mar 03, 2020 at 08:35:37 AM EST
    I always thought that was where he belonged.

    Watching the other bobbles just reminds me why I hate them.  Mica is sad.  And really really wishes the me-to movement could make different rules for her friends.

    Mike Barnicle just said quote "the thing I fear most, is it opens the door further to an element in our culture I find disturbing no matter how valid the complaints were or might have been about Chris....."

    What a joke.  Everyone, with the possible exception of Barnicle and others on MJ, hated him.   They made jokes about him.  They are happy to see him go.

    He past his expiration date 10 years ago.  He was the embarrassing crazy uncle in the prime time lineup.

    Thank god.  Good riddance.

    Remember him being called "Tweety"? (none / 0) (#6)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Mar 03, 2020 at 12:56:31 PM EST
    I guess they stopped when Twitter became popular.

    Because they assumed more would equate it with that rather than the animated bird.

    I believe one of the primary reasons why ... (none / 0) (#7)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Mar 03, 2020 at 01:21:42 PM EST
    ... the viewpoints and behaviors of some older Americans become controversial, outdated, irrelevant or all three is because they've effectively become a relic of their own past, by failing to live contemporaneously in the present. I offer the sudden departure of Chris Matthews after 20+ years at MSNBC as Exhibit A. People need to adapt in accordance with changing times and evolving social standards.