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US TV host retires abruptly from show, apologises for inappropriate comments about women

Chris Matthews said he incorrectly thought certain “compliments on a woman’s appearance” were ok.

Chris Matthews.
Chris Matthews.
Image: Chris Pizzello

US TV HOST Chris Matthews abruptly retired from his political show Hardball last night, apologising for making inappropriate comments about women. 

His exit came after a weekend of discussions with his bosses, three days after GQ ran a column by a freelance journalist about her “own sexist run-in” with Matthews in the makeup room before appearing on his show.

Matthews opened his show Hardball on MSNBC yesterday with the announcement, talking in his familiar staccato style, that he was ending his run on the political talk show he started in 1997.

After an ad break, he was replaced in the anchor chair by a shaken Steve Kornacki.

“This is the last Hardball on MSNBC, and obviously this isn’t for lack of interest in politics,” Matthews said.

He said that “compliments on a woman’s appearance that some men, including me, might have incorrectly thought were OK were never OK. Not then, and certainly not today, and for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”

Source: MSNBC/YouTube

The 74-year-old Matthews worked as a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter and was top aide to House Speaker Thomas ‘Tip’ O’Neill before turning to journalism as Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner.

He apologised last Monday for likening Sanders’ win in the Nevada caucus two nights earlier to the Nazi takeover of France.

On Friday’s show, he confused the identities of South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison and Senator Tim Scott, both black men.

And he was criticised for an uncomfortable interview with Warren following the presidential debate, asking if she believed Mike Bloomberg was lying when he denied telling a pregnant female employee of his news company to terminate the pregnancy.

“Why would she lie?” Warren said.

In her first-person story GQ story released Friday, journalist Laura Bassett said Matthews behaved inappropriately toward her when she was a guest on his show in 2016.

In the makeup room prior to the show, Matthews looked at her and said “why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?” she wrote.

“When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the makeup artist. ‘Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her,’” Bassett wrote.

“Another time, he stood between me and the mirror and complimented the red dress I was wearing for the segment. ‘You going out tonight?’ he asked.”

Bassett said she wrote about the encounter in a 2017 essay but didn’t name Matthews because she was afraid of network retaliation, adding: “I’m not anymore.”

MSNBC said there will be rotating subs in the time slot before a permanent replacement is named for the host who has been a mainstay of the network’s lineup since two years after MSNBC launched.

About the author:

Associated Press

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