Last night ‘Hardball’ host Chris Matthews abruptly resigned from his long running MSNBC news program citing his age and past compliments to female colleagues as the primary reasons for his exit. It was an ironic excuse from the former political operative who transitioned to broadcast “journalist” by exploiting the Clinton/Lewinsky sex scandal in the late 1990’s. According to Matthews, his departure will make room for an improved work environment which adheres to higher, more equitable standards.
“I decided tonight will be my last ‘Hardball,’ so let me tell you why,” Matthews explained. “The younger generations out there are ready to take the reins. We see them in politics and the media and fighting for their causes. They are improving the workplace. We’re talking here about better standards than we grew up with, fair standards. 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, and for making such comments in the past, I’m sorry.”
And then he was gone… 23 years of broadcasting experience walked off the set and back into the DC Swamp leaving his young protege Steve Kornacki to take the reins – ready or not.
Chris Matthews is a comic example of how the revolving door between government and media in our nation’s capital leads to fame and fortune. Starting his career as a staffer on Capitol Hill this enterprising political operative worked his way up to being Chief of Staff for Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill (D) where he served his party for most of the 1980’s. Leveraging his contacts and experience this politico began writing newspaper articles and books supporting the left-wing (big) government he worked for. The move to broadcast journalism was a natural extension of his literary pursuits and, after ten years of being a talking head, Chris Matthews explored a run for the Pennsylvania Senate seat in 2010. He probably realized that his position at MSNBC was more influential than being a Junior Senator in the world’s greatest deliberative body and decided to stay seated behind the “Hardball” desk.
Speculation surrounding the artless retirement of this cable news elder statesman includes pressure applied by NBC News executives unhappy with Matthews. Several accusations of sexually inappropriate comments, which Matthews understood to be compliments, have been surfaced in recent weeks. Self inflicted wounds like comparing presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to a communist and his supporters to the Nazis that overwhelmed French lines of defense during World War 2 have forced Matthews to make public apologies in the days prior to last nights resignation. These excuses fail to consider the most common and likely reason for everything that happens on television, including Chris Matthews’s departure, and that is ratings.
The cruel truth is that viewership for “Hardball” has been down over the past year and the NBC brass wants to replace Chris Matthews with younger blood. Viewers age 25-55 are the key demographic for cable news and Brian Williams has been winning that segment of the market at the 11PM time slot. The effort to replace the 74 year old politician masquerading as a reporter with a fantabulist who has been exiled from prime time for the past 5 years came to an end last night. Chris Matthews is gone and will soon be forgotten when a new guy takes his place.
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