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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Time was that you might have rightly called Chris Matthews the smartest person in the room.
He rose from an officer with the US Capitol Police force to the staffs of several members of Congress, including Sen Ed Muskie.
After a failed run for Congress in his own right, Matthews hired on as speechwriter for the Carter administration and later for House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.
He later went to work as a journalist and authored a number of books along the way, including the New York Times bestselling Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero.
Matthews made the jump to television, where he settled in as a political commentator with his own program, Hardball, which runs evenings on MSNBC.
As the years have gone on, it’s not just that Matthews has become more conservative. (He’s admitted on air to voting for Republican George W Bush in 2000.)
He’s also been in the midst of more than one sexual harassment case in recent years.
And then there was the bizarre and uncalled for comparison of Bernie Sanders’s win in the Nevada caucuses to the fall of France to the Nazis in World War II, for which Matthews later had to apologize.
Late night comedian Seth Meyer turned that meltdown of Matthews into a bit on his TV program.
“He’s like your senile grandpa screaming into the phone on facetime, ‘They banned me from the golf course for not fixing my divots. This is just like 1940, when the Nazi’s,”‘ Meyers mocked.
“Somehow, this isn’t even the most insane thing Matthews has said about Bernie,” Meyers added. “After Bernie’s win in New Hampshire, you might recall Matthews went on another deranged terror that had something to do with communists executing him in Central Park or something. It was so incoherent, his fellow anchor Chris Hayes had to chime in to offer some sense.”
Meyers was playing for laughs, but the sad thing is that Matthews’ work on Hardball has really devolved into predictable schtick in which the 74-year-old Matthews basically plays the part of the cranky old man who barks at his guests, telling them some variation of how he knows how it was really done right in the old days.
He’s really ceased to offer anything that you would call insightful political analysis.
Actually, MSNBC would have a much more valuable and watchable program if they they replaced Chris Matthews with his wife, Kathleen, a longtime local news anchor in Washington DC and more recently, a former chair of the Maryland Democratic Party.
Either way, it’s become painfully clear that Matthews’s best days are behind him. It’s up to the executives at MSNBC to end that pain.
Update: Shortly after publication, Matthews announced his immediate retirement on his Monday broadcast of Hardball.
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