Fifteen months after his abrupt exit from the network, longtime Hardball anchor Chris Matthews returned to MSNBC on Tuesday night and briefly addressed the sexual harassment allegations that resulted in his departure.
Amid a slew of on-air stumbles and controversies in early 2020, Matthews found himself faced with accusations by political columnist Laura Bassett that he made sexually inappropriate remarks to her in 2016. Faced with increased scrutiny over both allegations of previous misconduct and his inflammatory commentary, Matthews announced in March 2020 that he was calling it quits.
“I’m retiring,” he said at the top of one of the final episodes of his long-running show, adding that he was “sorry” for his comments to Bassett. After delivering his brief on-air retirement announcement, he handed the show off to a shocked Steve Kornacki.
Matthews, who has largely been out of the public eye during the past year, announced via Twitter on Tuesday morning that he would be a guest of Joy Reid, the MSNBC host who took over his 7 p.m. time slot. Reid responded by posting a photo of the smiling pair, noting that her “pal” would be on her program to talk about his new book.
After spending the vast majority of their interview talking about the current political climate and getting Matthews’ take on the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and the recent fight for voting rights, Reid eventually touched on Matthews’ exit from the network.
“Tell me about that, what has been the upshot of that for you?” Reid asked.
“The upshot is that I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say I miss you personally,” he replied. “They like you but they miss—they miss me. We had good company together.”
At the same time, however, Matthews acknowledged that the reason he was no longer at MSNBC was due to Bassett’s allegations, which he did not dismiss.
“I know the reason I left,” he said. “Somebody reported that I complimented somebody—actually, I’m going to use the right words here—I commented, remarked on somebody’s appearance in the makeup room, and I shouldn’t have done that. Nobody has to come to defend me.”
Matthews continued, “I did something wrong. So I’m going to move on from that. I accepted—I took ownership of it, using a nice modern phrase. I took complete ownership of it. I don’t deny it. I lost my show over it. That’s it.”
Weeks after his departure last year, Matthews told Vanity Fair that he “accepted the credibility of the complaint” made by Bassett and “didn’t argue about it.” He additionally said that Bassett was “very credible” and “highly justified” in her response to his past behavior.