As you likely know at this point, Chris Matthews retired from his show Hardball on MSNSBC. I only saw a video of his comments resigning, so I didn’t see what I was told about subsequently, Steve Kornacke's on-air reaction of sadness. I’m sure it was a very tough position for him to be in, from what was described.
Not much is known in great specifics. As far as I know, nothing that happened is “bad,” but more that he just crossed the line one too many times and too far. The issue came to a head last week when journalist Laura Bassett wrote a harsh op-ed column here in GQ. It not only put Matthews career in larger perspective, but linked to a 2017 article she wrote about an awkward and very uncomfortable experience appearing on MSNBC with an unnamed host -- who she now identifies as Matthews, and details much of what was said.
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?”
And apparently – from another profile of him a few years ago, as well as Ms. Bassett's – this is an issue he’s had for a long time, where women on his staff have had to sort of block him and steer him away before he makes the women guests too uncomfortable. Nothing physical, but overly squeamish. So, this seems to be an ongoing things with him – I don’t think MSNBC fires him for just being too uncomfortably “complimentary” one time only – for something that, even if it's happened a couple times with a warning, you suspend a guy for a few weeks or whatever. It seems like something they’ve discussed with him. And it comes on the heels of him having to apologize a weeks for his odd comments about the rise of Nazi Germany in relation to the Sanders campaign. So, it was probably crossing the line one too many times, too much, and it went public.
As for his on-air comments explaining his resignation, I wasn’t bowled over by them. To be fair, I don’t expect anyone to lay out their guts on the table in public. That’s their choice and up to them. So be it. Furthermore, he wasn’t apologizing, but saying that he was quitting. However, I found it nonetheless a disingenuous statement. He wasn’t retiring because, as he said, he just made some inappropriate compliments. It was clearly much more than that (from the recent complaints and the article in the past), and came right after his Nazi comment. But still, none of it was mean-spirited, none of it was to hurt, some of it probably was to compliment. But I’m sure it was way too much, offending and happened A LOT.
As some readers here may know, I’m not a fan of his. I even wrote a long article about it several years back on the Huffington Post. (What prompted it was when he had Ann Coulter on for a full hour and gave her an open platform to spew her hate.) I finally gave up watching him for a few years. Only recently did I start watching Hardball again, though only for a segment or two at most. But my not liking his work was never because I thought he was a bad guy. He clearly adores politics. It’s because for a smart guy -- which he is -- I find that he doesn’t think enough before he talks. To me, he just blurts out words. Some are really smart, but far too many need a big filter. And this unfortunately appears to be part of that. Honestly, I’m actually sorry to see him go for this reason. But I understand the reason. And I’m sure that it’s much more than what he said, some inappropriate compliments. You don’t fire a guy for that. I just sense that it’s gone on for a long time, and finally got too much.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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