“I did something wrong.”
That’s how former MSNBC host Chris Matthews explained his sudden departure from MSNBC.
Matthews appeared on MSNBC host Joy Reid’s show Tuesday after abruptly retiring in March 2020 amid allegations of inappropriate behavior. Matthews was accused of flirting with a female journalist who had appeared on his show multiple times beginning in 2016.
In a rambling explanation that both took and cast blame, Matthews said “nobody has come to defend me.”
“I think the reason I — I know the reason I left, somebody reported that I complimented somebody — actually, I’m gonna’ use the right words here. I commented, remarked on somebody’s appearance in the makeup room, and I shouldn’t have done that,” Matthews said. “Nobody has to come defend me. And by the way, I kept all my friends, but nobody needs to defend me. I did something wrong. So I’m going to move on from that. I took ownership of it, using a nice modern phrase. I took complete ownership. I did not deny it. I lost my show over it. That’s it. So that’s the truth.”
Matthews announced his retirement during his show “Hardball” on MSNBC. “I’m retiring. This is the last ‘Hardball’ on MSNBC, and obviously this isn’t for lack of interest in politics,” said Matthews. “As you can tell, I’ve loved every minute of my 20 years as host of ‘Hardball.’ Every morning, I read the papers and I’m gung-ho to get to work. Not many people have had this privilege.”
In his own defense, Matthews said: “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, were never OK. Not then and certainly not today.”
Liberals quickly came to Matthews’ defense.
“Chris Matthews is a friend of mine. He and I have flirted unabashedly for 20 years. This is an atrocious end to a noble, happy-warrior career. I will continue to be his friend. Angry column to follow,” Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist at The Washington Post, wrote on Twitter.
Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” with Mika Brzezinski, also had Matthews’ back.
“Mika and I were deeply moved by @SteveKornacki’s tribute to Chris Matthews. Actually, we are wiping tears from our eyes. We love Chris and will miss him every night in our home at 7pm. As Steve said, Chris was the most human TV guy and ‘I say that as the highest compliment,’” he wrote.
Matthews appeared on the Tuesday show in his old time slot for a 14-minute segment geared around hawking his new book, “This Country.”
“The good news is, I’ve never had in my life two years to actually sit down and write about my 70 years, which is to talk about an incredible life I’ve been so lucky to have, to be on the inside of American politics looking out,” Matthews said, later adding, “It was an amazing experience to work within democracy, and to see parts of the world fighting for democracy, like Nelson Mandela and bringing down the Berlin Wall. I got to see it all in one lifetime. I want to share with the people who watched my show so faithfully all those years.”