'Um, that was a lot to take in': 'Hardball' co-host Steve Kornacki was completely stunned when Chris Matthews announced his retirement without warning
MSNBC host Chris Matthews, who anchored the primetime show "Hardball," abruptly announced his retirement at the top of Monday night's program. It appears that no one on the show, including Steve Kornacki, who often co-hosts the program from its New York headquarters, knew Matthews was about to announce his retirement. "Um, that was a lot to take in," Kornacki said. "And I'm sure you're still absorbing that. And I am, too." His retirement comes after a string of public controversies centered around his behavior toward women and comments he's made about Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the 2020 Democratic frontrunner.
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Chris Matthews, a longtime MSNBC anchor and the host of "Hardball," abruptly announced his retirement from the network Monday night following a string of public controversies. "I'm retiring," Matthews said. "This is the last 'Hardball' on MSNBC." He added, "The younger generations out there are ready to take the reins." The anchor said he and the network had mutually agreed to part ways, and that the decision came after he was sharply criticized for his comments toward women, African-American lawmakers, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is the frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. Steve Kornacki, who often hosts the show from NBC Universal's headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Center in New York City, appeared to confirm shortly after that he had no idea Matthews was going to announce his retirement on Monday. "Um, that was a lot to take in," Kornacki said with a stunned expression as the camera cut to him. "And I'm sure you're still absorbing that. And I am, too." He went on to call Matthews a "giant" and a "legend," adding, "it's been an honor for me to work with him."
Kornacki popping up on screen just completely lost pic.twitter.com/SVAiu9rExU — Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) March 3, 2020
Matthews has been at the center of a number of controversies throughout his long career at MSNBC. Last week, the political columnist Laura Bassett publicly accused Matthews of making inappropriate comments toward her at least twice in 2016 before she appeared as a guest on his show. On Monday night's program, Matthews apologized for his comments and others he's been accused of. "For making such comments in the past, I'm sorry," Matthews said. Bassett first wrote about her encounters with Matthews in October 2017 but she didn't identify him by name. But on Friday, Bassett published another essay in GQ naming Matthews in the wake of his interview with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren earlier in the week, during which Matthews cast doubt on Warren's allegation that former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg engaged in pregnancy discrimination against his employees. According to Bassett, Matthews "inappropriately flirted" with her in the makeup room a few times before they went live on his show, which made her "noticeably uncomfortable" on the air. The first time it happened, she wrote, they were about to go on camera to discuss multiple allegations of sexual assault against President Donald Trump. Bassett wrote that at the time, in 2016, Matthews was sitting in a chair next to her in the makeup room, looked over at her and asked, "Why haven't I fallen in love with you yet?" When the freelance reporter first published her account of the encounter with Matthews in HuffPost in 2017, she went into more detail. "I froze," she wrote, referring to her reaction to Matthews' question. "He was older, married, far more powerful than I was in media. He could decide whether or not I got booked on the network again. I'd been warned by more than one person that he sometimes tried to humiliate his female guests on the air." The reporter wrote that Matthews' comments made her so uncomfortable that she "stumbled" over her answers when she was on camera with him a few minutes later and "forgot basic vocabulary words." Then, a few weeks later, when Bassett joined "Hardball" again, she alleges that Matthews was "a bit bolder" and stood between her and the mirror in the makeup room and complimented the red dress she wore for the segment. "You going out tonight?" he asked her. Bassett replied that she didn't know, and Matthews again turned to the makeup artist and said, "Make sure you wipe this off her face after the show. We don't make her up so some guy at a bar can look at her like this." Matthews also recently drew swift backlash when he compared Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' victory in Nevada to the Nazi occupation of France during World War II. Shortly after he made the comments, the hashtag #FireChrisMatthews began trending on Twitter and Sanders' campaign also lashed out at the host, accusing him and the network of harboring bias against Sanders. Matthews apologized for his remarks last week, saying at the beginning of his program, "Senator Sanders, I'm sorry for comparing anything from that tragic era in which so many suffered, especially the Jewish people, to an electoral result in which you were the well-deserved winner." Eliza Relman contributed to this report.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Extremists turned a frog meme into a hate symbol, but Hong Kong protesters revived it as an emblem of hope
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