The day after veteran MSNBC host Chris Matthews abruptly announced his retirement Monday night following a series of on-air screw-ups and accusations he made sexually inappropriate comments to female guests, the denizens of MSNBC’s Morning Joe expressed anger and indignation that their colleague was seemingly forced out.
Calling it a “moving, moving night,” co-host Joe Scarborough praised Steve Kornacki—who was left stunned and speechless when taking over for Matthews on Monday night—for paying the Hardball host the “highest compliment” by labeling him the “most human TV personality” he’d ever known.
“He was a former Capitol Hill cop who always wore his heart on his sleeve and through the years it occasionally got [Tip O’Neill]’s favorite guy, Tip’s go-to guy in trouble,” Scarborough continued. “But you know what? It also made Chris Matthews a beloved figure and made his show Hardball a political institution that I think, more than any other show over the past quarter-century, defined our political times.”
Scarborough went on to wonder if Matthews, who had recently come under fire not just for allegations of sexism and harassment but also for regrettable comments about the Democratic primary, was guilty of being “all too human.”
“Yeah. I guess so, but those of us still playing or reporting on the hardball of politics could stand a bit more of this humanity these days,” he added as his wife and co-host Mika Brzezinski began tearing up. “Even if it sometimes reveals our flaws... or weaknesses and, yes, even shows our blind spots. Chris gave us his all every night, and that’s why we were wiping tears from our eyes last night.”
After Kornacki offered up some thoughts, Brzezinski jumped in to bemoan the “so-called cancel culture” that she believes took Matthews down.
“As a woman, I want to say this: I loved working with Chris Matthews,” she stated. “I really enjoyed being his colleague. And I really, I understand the important changes around this so-called cancel culture. They’re important, they’re hard, they’re painful, and in many cases they are necessary.”
“I do wonder at this point, though, as we move forward and we look at this and what happened here, if there might be a better way for all of us in the future,” Brzezinski added. “Where we work through this and get to a better place. For now, I’ll just say I’ll miss him every night at 7 p.m., but I remain his friend.”
Later in the segment, Scarborough turned to regular Morning Joe contributor Mike Barnicle, who appeared to blast the network for bowing to pressure on Matthews and pushing for his ouster.
“The thing that I fear most, Joe, about what happened yesterday, Chris’ resignation, is it opens the door to an element in our future that I find disturbing,” he grumbled. “No matter how valid the complaints were about Chris, there’s a sense of easy outrage in this country that is fed largely by Twitter sometimes, and the outrage quickly becomes toxic, and that toxic outrage has the opportunity, the chance and often results in something that we saw last night—Chris’ resignation.”
Barnicle then seemingly indicated that Matthews would be welcome as a guest on Morning Joe in the future.
“As I said, again, I’m going to say it again. Chris is not going anywhere,” he added. “He’s resigned from his post at Hardball, but he will be around. But we should think about what happened to him and think about the reaction to what he is charged with having said or done, and it could happen to you. It could happen to all of us. It could happen anywhere. So let’s pump the brakes on the easily obtained outrage and live our lives."
This isn’t the first time that the Morning Joe crew has rallied around a member of the cable-news old guard being kicked to the curb amid misconduct accusations. After disgraced pundit and Morning Joe fixture Mark Halperin was fired by NBC News in October 2017, following allegations of sexual harassment and groping, Brzezinski and Scarborough attempted to help Halperin in his rehabilitation campaign.