On Monday, Stephen Colbert asked Chris Matthews about the circumstances surrounding his departure last winter as host of MSNBC’s Hardball after two decades at the network.
The veteran anchor abruptly retired in March 2020 amid allegations of inappropriate behavior toward a female guest on his show four years earlier.
In an article for GQ, freelance journalist Laura Bassett wrote that Matthews “looked over at me in the makeup chair next to him and said, ‘Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?’” before making other creepy comments about her makeup and looks.
Matthews was forthright about the incident when Colbert mentioned it.
“It was a four-year-old story but it was accurate as hell. I accepted the truth,” Matthews said.
“In fact, I credited it in a couple of commentaries. I said, it’s all true. Don’t blame the messenger. I did it, I own this, nobody else is responsible for my trouble. I did it. It wasn’t ‘he said, she said.’ I said she was right, the reporter, and I want everybody to know who thinks they’re on my side on this: my side is the truth.”
Bassett’s account also drew attention to a report that Matthews had been reprimanded in 1999 after a similar interaction with an MSNBC employee, one which led to a settlement. He’d also compared Bernie Sanders’ victory in the Nevada Democratic primary to France falling to the Nazis (Sanders is Jewish, and members of his family were murdered during the Holocaust).
Matthews said it was his decision to leave the network after the GQ article was published.
“The next day, I told the president of my network I’m leaving,” he recalled, “and on that Monday night, they let me give a speech to the people telling them how I’ll miss them.”
In his remarks during his final broadcast, Matthews acknowledged that at times he had addressed women in an inappropriate manner. “For making such comments in the past, I’m sorry,” he said.
Matthews has been making the rounds on television in the past week largely to promote his memoir, which hit shelves June 1. Along with several other shows, Matthews has been a guest on The Reidout, which took over his old MSNBC time slot, and The View, where he was pressed about inflammatory comments he had made about Hillary Clinton.