Chris Matthews Suddenly Retires On-Air Just After Bernie Sanders Comment Backlash

Chris Matthews has been at the forefront of the political media landscape since the mid 1990s. He made a surprising announcement during Monday's episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews that he would be stepping away from his position.

“I’m retiring,” Matthews said. “This is the last Hardball on MSNBC. Obviously this isn't for a lack of interest in politics. As you can tell, I've loved every minute of my 20 years as host of Hardball... not many people have had this privilege."

Matthews reportedly didn't inform anyone of his decision, either, not even Chris Kornacki, his co-host.

Matthews made his television debut in 1994 where the show ran on the now-defunct America's Talking before moving over to CNBC in 1997 and eventually MSNBC in 1999.

His shocking retirement comes on the heels of some controversial remarks he has made over the past few days, including remarks on Bernie Sanders in which he compared his campaign to the Nazi invasion of France. The insensitive comments, which also hit a nerve as Sanders' parents were killed by Nazis, wound up receiving an apology from Matthews.

“Senator Sanders, I’m sorry for comparing anything from that tragic era, in which so many suffered, especially the Jewish people, to an electoral result in which you were the well-deserved winner," he said during his Monday show on Feb. 24. "This is going to be a hard-fought, heated campaign of ideas. In the days and weeks and months ahead I will strive to do a better job myself of elevating the political discussion.”

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In addition to the remarks on Sanders, Matthews found himself under fire after his questioning of Elizabeth Warren. Following the Democratic presidential debate, Matthews pressed Warren on her statement that she was siding with the accuser of Michael Bloomberg. He asked her if she believes Bloomberg is "lying," to which Warren said she believes the woman.

The departure of Matthews has many viewers speculating the timing of the news. Many suspect that he was forced out, although his time on the network was likely nearing an end in the coming years. Other longtime viewers of the show were disappointed to learn that the face of the show would be retiring so abruptly.