Chris Matthews: TV host quits with apology for 'compliments'

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MSNBC's Chris MatthewsImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Matthews launched his political talk show in 1997

One of America's most famous news anchors has abruptly quit days after a female guest on his show alleged he made inappropriate remarks.

Chris Matthews, a veteran host at liberal cable channel MSNBC, said Monday's Hardball show was his last.

Last month he apologised after likening a Democratic presidential contender's victory to the Nazi invasion of Europe.

Once a speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, Mr Matthews launched his political talk show in 1997.

The 74-year-old said on Monday that "compliments on a woman's appearance that some men, including me, might have incorrectly thought were OK were never OK.

"Not then, and certainly not today, and for making such comments in the past, I'm sorry."

Mr Matthews, who underwent prostate surgery last year, said he came to his decision after talks with MSNBC.

Last Friday a journalist, Laura Bassett, wrote a first-person cover story for GQ magazine in which she alleged Chris Matthews had made remarks that made her uncomfortable when she was a guest on his show back in 2016.

She wrote that in the make-up room before the show, Mr Matthews looked at her and said: "Why haven't I fallen in love with you yet?"

Ms Bassett wrote: "When I laughed nervously and said nothing, he followed up to the make-up artist. 'Keep putting makeup on her, I'll fall in love with her.'

"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."

It was not the first time Mr Matthews had been accused of making inappropriate comments about women.

In 2016, a hot mic picked up his remarks about Melania Trump as she took to the stage at a rally for her husband in Indiana.

The MSNBC host was heard saying of the former model: "Did you see her walk? Runway walk. My God, is that good!"

In 2011, Mr Matthews raised eyebrows for saying that Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin "could not be hotter as a candidate".

Last month, Mr Matthews was hosting the cable network's coverage of left-wing Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders' victory in the Nevada caucuses when he said: "I was reading last night about the fall of France in the summer of 1940.

"And the general calls up Churchill and says, 'It's over,' and Churchill says, 'How can it be? You got the greatest army in Europe. How can it be over?' He said, 'It's over.'"

Supporters of Mr Sanders, a Jewish candidate whose family members were murdered in the Holocaust, said the analogy was deeply offensive.

Mr Matthews went on his show two days later to apologise to Mr Sanders and promised he would "strive to do a better job myself of elevating the political discussion".

But last Friday, the TV host caused further embarrassment when he confused the identities of two black men, Senator Tim Scott and a South Carolina Senate candidate, Jaime Harrison.