Politics

Chris Matthews Ousted in Disgrace as Netanyahu Triumphs Again

Creepy Hardball host once compared Israeli PM to dictators Putin, Erdoğan

Longtime MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews, who once included Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a list of "bad guys" along with Russia's Vladimir Putin and Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced his "retirement" from the network on Monday.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, celebrated a stunning election victory in Israel. "They already eulogized us," the 2019 Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year told a crowd of supporters early Tuesday. "Our opponents said the Netanyahu era is over." But it wasn't. The same cannot be said of the Matthews era on MSNBC.

The Hardball host's surprising exit, which Matthews announced at the start of Monday's show, comes amid a series of controversies surrounding Matthews's behavior on and off the studio set. The cantankerous and perpetually disheveled host was dogged for years by allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior toward female guests and coworkers.

Matthews addressed the allegations in an on-air apology on Monday. "Compliments on a woman's appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were okay were not okay, not then and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I'm sorry," Matthews said.

The final straw, however, appears to have been Matthews's interview with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) following last week's Democratic debate in Charleston. Matthews grilled Warren over her attack on former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Warren had repeated during the debate a claim that Bloomberg told a pregnant female employee to "kill it."

Matthews pressed Warren to explain why she believed the woman who made the allegation instead of Bloomberg, who emphatically denied making the comment. "You believe he is lying?" asked Matthews. "Why would he lie?" Warren insisted that she had every reason to believe the accuser. "Why would she lie?" Warren responded.

The interview prompted feminist activists to call on MSNBC to fire Matthews. It also prompted GQ columnist Laura Bassett to reveal—in an article published three days before the "retirement" announcement—that Matthews had made inappropriate comments on multiple occasions during her appearances on his show:

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.

I said I didn't know, and he said—again to the makeup artist—"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."

Notwithstanding the allegations of inappropriate behavior toward women, Matthews's general conduct as a political commentator had grown increasingly deranged in recent years. After Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I., Vt.) decisive victory in the Nevada caucus in February, the Hardball host said it reminded him of the French Army's failure to beat back the Nazi invasion in 1940.

Just days ago, on the eve of the South Carolina primary, Matthews humiliated himself on air by failing to tell the difference between two black politicians from the Palmetto State.