Liberals Hail Matthews on 20th Anniversary as ‘One of the True Pillars of Our Democracy’

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This week marks 20 years for liberal pundit Chris Matthews having his show Hardball on MSNBC (after being on CNBC from 1997 to 1999) and, throughout the week, the show will offer words of congratulations from celebrities, journalists, fellow pundits, and members of Congress. 

Through the first three days, it’s gone about as well as you would have expected, chock full of liberals in the above categories and syrupy praise for a man who was hailed as having “a great political head,” hosting a show that’s “the gold standard,” and even being a “pillar of our democracy.” 

Look out, Chris, as it looks like more than a few out there have thrills up their legs!

 

 

Leading off Monday and Tuesday, there were liberal late-night comics with good wishes. CBS’s Late Night host Stephen Colbert joked that Matthews “can inhale now” after 20 years while HBO’s Real Time host Bill Maher humorously quipped that “there’s no one I’d rather get talked over in a three-second satellite lag.”

There were plenty of celebrities too. They included Ben Stiller, who boasted that “I really love your show” and been “a huge fan.” Woody Harrelson offered hello from Bangkok, and Michael Moore joked that “only one of us is getting into heaven” before mimicking his awkward laugh.

15 elected officials were included in tributes Monday through Wednesday and, not surprisingly, not a single one was a Republican. With that in mind, it was amusing to observe how so many were so complimentary and claimed that, well, he plays hardball.

On Monday night, the cast featured Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who asserted that Matthews “ask[s] tough questions” and “has a great political head.”

The next day, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RH) hilariously told the camera thatHardball bring[s] out the gritty truth behind the headlines” and colleague Ed Markey (D-MA) affirmed that Matthews’s show was “the gold standard for political news.”

In another set of tributes, 2020 Democrat Kamala Harris thanked Matthews for “always throwing the fast pitches” while fellow compatriot Amy Klobuchar argued that “I cannot think of a better time to have Chris Matthews on the air.”

And on Wednesday, the three elected Democrats offered up real doozies (click “expand”):

SENATOR CHRIS COONS (D-DE): To Chris and the whole Hardball team, congratulations on 20 years of smart analysis, spirited debate, and always telling it like it is. 

CONGRESSWOMAN JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): You're one of the best standard bearers for the power of the fourth estate. You’re a fierce watchdog for the American people, so keep on grilling us. 

CONGRESSMAN ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Every time I come on the show, I never know what types of hard balls, curve balls will be coming my way, but I always know I can expect pride and professionalism from the team as they put that into the show every single night. So here's to many more years of Chris Matthews and the team shaping the dialogue and holding American leaders to account.

And last but not least, there were 15 colleagues who chimed in with perhaps the most fluff. 

During Tuesday’s show, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt boasted that the first thing he watches after his newscast because of his “unique ability to cut through the daily heapings of political word salad.” 

But White House correspondent Kristen Welker went above and beyond her colleagues, rivaling Speier for the worst quote for gushing that not only has he “turned tough interviews into an art,” but he’s “one of the true pillars of our democracy.”

Wednesday’s shout-outs began with a cute and humorous back-and-forth with the core four of Morning Joe (Mike Barnicle, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, and Joe Scarborough) and the last section with fellow MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Chuck Todd, but the next set brought a thick lather of praise (click “expand”):

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Congratulations, Chris, on 20 years of Hardball. You're such an inspiration, you're so smart. It's an honor to be a guest on your show. 

ROBERT COSTA: You've contributed so much to American political life, providing junkies like me and millions of others a daily dose of what they crave, a sense of history, a love of politics. 

JON MEACHAM: No one does it better. No one understands history and the romance of politics better than you do. 

CHARLIE SYKES: Chris, congratulations on 20 MSNBC and being blessed with being able to talk about this amazing news cycle.

Stay tuned for later this week when NewsBusters covers part two with the tributes that could arise on the Thursday and Friday shows.

To see the relevant transcript and all the tributes from MSNBC’s Hardball on November 4-6, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
November 4, 2019
7:13 p.m. Eastern

STEPHEN COLBERT: Congratulations on an incredible run, Chris. 20 years of Hardball. You can inhale now. [LAUGHTER]

(....)

7:25 p.m. Eastern

CONGRESSMAN JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Hi, Chris. I just want to congratulate you and the entire Hardball team for 20 years of important television. 

SENATOR SHERROD BROWN (D-OH): 20 years? Congratulations, Chris, on 20 years of Hardball. What an accomplishment. What a job. What a show.

CONGRESSMAN TED LIEU (D-CA): Happy anniversary, you and your show are awesome.

SENATE MINORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Hardball is a great show. You’ve done great work. You ask tough questions. You have a great political head and I hope there are many, many more years of success.

(....)

7:37 p.m. Eastern

DEBRA MESSING: Chris, 20 years? I have been watching you for 20 years.

BEN STILLER: Hey, Chris. It`s Ben Stiller. I just want to say I really love your show. I’m a huge fan. Happy 20th anniversary.

WOODY HARRELSON: Chris, congratulations. A warm greeting to you from Bangkok at 3:30 in the morning. Twenty years, man, that’s awesome.

MICHAEL MOORE: Hey, I just wanted to say congratulations to Chris Matthews from one Irish Catholic to another. Only one of us is getting into heaven and I think you know who that is. [IMPERSONATES MATTHEWS’S LAUGH]

(....)

7:52 p.m. Eastern

NICOLLE WALLACE: Chris Matthews, 20 years. How do you do it? I don’t know. You’re an inspiration, you’re a joy, you’re a pleasure and you’re one of my favorites to be on the air with and to watch. Congratulations, my friend.

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Congratulations on 20 years. This is not a career, by the way. This is 20 years playing one position. On behalf of this loyal viewer, thank you, my friend, for always asking the questions that matter every night of the week. Congratulations.

 

MSNBC’s Hardball
November 5, 2019
7:13 p.m. Eastern

BILL MAHER: New rule, Chris Matthews owes us 20 more years of Hardball. I’m honored to call you a friend and there’s no one I’d rather get talked over in a three-second satellite lag. [LAUGHTER] [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] Congratulations on getting this far. The first 20 years are always the hardest. [LAUGHTER]

(....)

7:27 p.m. Eastern

SENATOR CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): 20 years of Hardball, that’s a really big deal. Congratulations, Chris.

SENATOR SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RH): Congratulations, Chris Matthews, on 20 years of Hardball bringing out the gritty truth behind the headlines.

CONGRESSWOMAN KAREN BASS (D-CA): Chris Matthews, one of my favorite shows, your analysis, your hard-hitting interviews. Thank you so much for your work.

SENATOR EDWARD MARKEY (D-MA): Hardball is the gold standard for political news, and it’s because of you. Congratulations on 20 years, and we’re all looking forward to 20 more, my friend.

(....)

7:43 p.m. Eastern

SENATOR MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): Hi, Chris Matthews. It’s Michael Bennet from Colorado coming to you from Manchester, New Hampshire to congratulate you on 20 years of Hardball.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D): Chris, congratulations on 20 amazing years. Looking forward to see what the next 20 will be like for you.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): Hey, Chris. Happy 20th anniversary of Hardball and thanks for always throwing the fast pitches.

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): I cannot think of a better time to have Chris Matthews on the air than right now during this Trump era, because you don’t take any bull. You keep pushing through and mostly, you cover what matters. I can’t wait to see the next 20 years.

(....)

7:53 p.m. Eastern

LESTER HOLT: Chris, 20 years in and you are still throwing the heat on Hardball. You’re the first thing I watch after I finish my broadcast each evening. Your unique ability to cut through the daily heapings of political word salad has never been more important. So, to you and the entire Hardball staff, congratulations on a remarkable milestone, 20 years and wishing you many more. Go get ‘em, pal.

KRISTEN WELKER: Chris, congratulations on 20 years of Hardball on MSNBC. As a Philly girl, you have always been one of my biggest inspirations. You’ve turned tough interviews into an art. You are one of the true pillars of our democracy.

ANDREA MITCHELL: Twenty years of Hardball? That is just amazing. Congratulations, Chris Matthews, the entire Hardball team, for your success for your 20th anniversary.

 

MSNBC’s Hardball
November 6, 2019
7:14 p.m. Eastern

JOE SCARBOROUGH: You know, Willie, it was 20 years ago today that Sergeant Matthews —

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: 20 years.

WILLIE GEIST: Wow.

SCARBOROUGH: — taught the band to play HAAAAA!

BRZEZINSKI: Hardball

GEIST: Can you believe it's been 20 years, Mike Barnicle of our good friend Chris Matthews and our favorite show, Hardball, screaming the headline and then getting us going for an hour. Nobody in this business has more passion for politics. Nobody — 

SCARBOROUGH: Nope. 

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: No.

GEIST: — has more perspective on politics than Chris Matthews. 

MIKE BARNICLE: Not only can I believe it, I lived it. 20 years ago today, Chris Matthews called me and asked me to be on Hardball.

GEIST: The first show?

BRZEZINSKI: Oh my God!

BARNICLE: Yes. I was on — I was on — 

SCARBOROUGH: Really?

BARNICLE: — one of his earliest shows — yes, really — on one of his earliest shows and I've been waiting 20 years later. Is he going to call me back? 

[SCREEN WIPE]

SCARBOROUGH: Mika, I've said before to Chris, it is your favorite moment of the day —

BRZEZINSKI: It is!

SCARBOROUGH: — when Chris Matthews goes, “BAR FIGHT! Let's play Hardball.”

BRZEZINSKI: I love the open. I’m obsessed with it. I wait for it every night.

[SCREEN WIPE]

SCARBOROUGH: There's only one Chris Matthews and there’s only one Hardball. Thank you so much for 20 amazing years. 

GEIST: Congrats, Chris.

(....)

7:26 p.m. Eastern

SENATOR CHRIS COONS (D-DE): To Chris and the whole Hardball team, congratulations on 20 years of smart analysis, spirited debate, and always telling it like it is. 

CONGRESSWOMAN JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): You're one of the best standard bearers for the power of the fourth estate. You’re a fierce watchdog for the American people, so keep on grilling us. 

CONGRESSMAN ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Every time I come on the show, I never know what types of hard balls, curve balls will be coming my way, but I always know I can expect pride and professionalism from the team as they put that into the show every single night. So here's to many more years of Chris Matthews and the team shaping the dialogue and holding American leaders to account.

(....)

7:40 p.m. Eastern

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Congratulations, Chris, on 20 years of Hardball. You're such an inspiration, you're so smart. It's an honor to be a guest on your show. 

ROBERT COSTA: You've contributed so much to American political life, providing junkies like me and millions of others a daily dose of what they crave, a sense of history, a love of politics. 

JON MEACHAM: No one does it better. No one understands history and the romance of politics better than you do. 

CHARLIE SYKES: Chris, congratulations on 20 MSNBC and being blessed with being able to talk about this amazing news cycle.

(....)

7:50 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS HAYES: Hey, Chris and the Hardball crew congratulations on 20 years. It is astounding, amazing, impressive and before I started in nightly television and someone told me, oh, you know, this show was celebrated for 20 years, I'm like good for them and I'm like how? How? How did you do it? 

CHUCK TODD: I sit here and say, “20 years?” Chris, it's more than 20 years, but this is the beauty of you, Chris Matthews is you’re — you're always so youthful, you’re always so energetic that even though you've been doing this for I think 30 years, we've decided it only feels like 20. That's how energetic and youthful you — you have actually changed the space time continuum. 

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