Cable channel’s decision to release 74-year-old anchor from contract was mutual, according to source
MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews announced on air Monday that he was leaving the network, days after being accused of making inappropriate flirtatious comments to a guest and comparing Sen. Bernie Sanders’s victory in the Nevada caucuses to the World War II Nazi takeover of France.
A person familiar with Mr. Matthews’s decision said that his retirement was already “imminent,” but that the events of the past few weeks accelerated his exit from the network.
During a monologue at the beginning of “Hardball,” Mr. Matthews said he was leaving the show partly because he felt that there is a younger generation “ready to take the reins.”
He also made reference to allegations of inappropriate conduct. “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,” he said.
Mr. Matthews’s monologue was followed by a commercial break, after which Mr. Matthews didn’t reappear—with fellow MSNBC anchor Steve Kornacki taking over the show.
There will be a rotating group of hosts for “Hardball” until the network decides what to do with its time slot, the person familiar with the matter said. The departure of the 74-year-old Mr. Matthews was a mutual decision on the part of the anchor and the network, the person familiar with the matter said.
In a GQ essay last week, political columnist and former “Hardball” guest Laura Bassett wrote that Mr. Matthews asked her why he hadn’t “fallen in love” with her before the 2016 appearance to discuss allegations of sexual assault against then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Ms. Bassett said she thought the remarks didn’t rise to the level of “illegal sexual harassment” but said the incident “undermined my ability to do my job well.”