Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” on Monday announced on his show that he was leaving the network, a little more than a week after comparing Senator Bernie Sanders’s victory in the Nevada caucuses to the Nazi invasion of France in WW2.
“I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940 and the general, Reynaud, calls up Churchill and says, ‘It’s over,'” Matthews said. “And Churchill says, ‘How can that be? You’ve got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?’ He said, ‘It’s over.'”
Matthews was later forced to apologize to Sanders, and explained that he was merely using a historic analogy to express his feeling that the Sanders juggernaut was unstoppable, just like the Wehrmacht’s invasion of France. But that was not enough, apparently. So on Monday night, Matthews opened his show saying, “Let me start with my headline tonight. I’m retiring. This is the last ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC and obviously this isn’t for lack of interest in politics.”
Then MSNBC aired a commercial, and when it was over, Matthews did not return to the show. In a move that one would have expected to see on North Korean TV, he was replaced by Steve Kornacki, a political reporter for the network, for the rest of the hour. Kornacki was shocked by the news, and said, “That was a lot to take in.” He then shared how much he admired the host who had just been on the air, and glided into a discussion of the coronavirus.
Matthews, 74, who served as speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, started hosting “Hardball” in 1999. He has been caught in a series of on-air gaffes this season: besides comparing a Jewish senator from Vermont to Hitler (which he didn’t, but Americans are not great with subtleties and nuance), the aging host also confused the identities of two black politicians. And last Saturday, Journalist Laura Bassett wrote in GQ that Matthews made unwelcome comments about her appearance as she was getting ready to make an appearance on his show.
Here in Israel with my hero Shimon Peres. What a remarkable country. The Old City of Jerusalem holds its wonder. pic.twitter.com/bFDHHTkUfi
— Chris Matthews (@HardballChris) December 29, 2015
Matthews’ views on Israel were aligned with those of Clinton Democrats: he loved Israel and Jerusalem, but opposed President Donald Trump’s moving the US embassy to the capital; he admired the late President Shimon Peres, but despised PM Benjamin Netanyahu and lumped him together with “bad guys” like Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In 2002, Matthews was hospitalized with malaria, which he contracted on a visit to Africa. He has also suffered from diabetes and pneumonia.