At 77 years old, Chris Matthews has this physical status:
When Matthews first arrived in Washington, D.C., he worked as an officer with the United States Capitol Police. Subsequently, Matthews served on the staffs of four Democratic Members of Congress, including Senators Frank Moss and Edmund Muskie. In 1974, Matthews mounted an unsuccessful campaign for Pennsylvania's 4th congressional district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in which he received about 24% of the vote in the primary. Matthews was a presidential speechwriter during the Carter Administration, and later worked for six years as Chief of Staff to longtime Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neill, playing a direct role in many key political battles with the Reagan Administration.
Matthews has said, "I'm more conservative than people think I am ... I voted for George W. in 2000." Salon.com has called him the "most conservative voice" on MSNBC's primetime lineup. Matthews has been accused by Media Matters for America of having panels of guests that skew to the right and of supporting Republicans in his own questions and comments.
On the April 14, 2008, edition of The Colbert Report, Matthews alluded to a possible run for the United States Senate from Pennsylvania. On November 28, 2008, Matthews contacted senior staffers of Barack Obama's campaign about a possible Senate run. On January 7, 2009, The New York Times reported that Matthews told his staffers that he would not run for the Senate.
Matthews worked in print media for 15 years, spending 13 years as Washington, D.C. bureau chief for the San Francisco Examiner (1987–2000) and two years as a nationally syndicated columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Matthews covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa, and the Good Friday Peace Talks in Northern Ireland. In 1997 and 1998, his research in the National Archives produced a series of exclusives on the Nixon presidential tapes. Matthews covered American presidential election campaigns from 1988 until his retirement in 2020.
He is the author of eight best-selling books:
Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero spent 12 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. The book was lauded by critics. "Matthews excels in capturing the tribalism of the Irish Catholic culture and experience Kennedy both absorbed and overcame as he made his way ... [and] is at his best in describing political dynamics," The Washington Post said. "Matthews proves a compelling storyteller," said The Boston Globe. "Matthews has produced a valuable addition to the literature about the life and career of our 35th president," said The Christian Science Monitor. "Matthews's stirring biography reveals Kennedy as a 'fighting prince never free from pain, never far from trouble, and never accepting the world he found,'" said Publishers Weekly.
In 1997, Matthews began his own weeknight talk show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, which originally aired on America's Talking and then moved to MSNBC. Hardball with Chris Matthews featured pundits and elected officials as guests.
The Chris Matthews Show aired in syndication on weekends from 2002 until 2013. The show was formatted as a political roundtable consisting of four journalists and Matthews, who served as the moderator. He is estimated to earn more than $5 million a year.
In 2004, at the Democratic National Convention, Matthews predicted that he had "just seen the first black president".> The Huffington Post reported on Matthews's emotional expressions of support for Barack Obama during the 2008 Presidential election, quoting him as saying: "I have to tell you, you know, it's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often."
While discussing proposed healthcare reform on the December 17, 2009, edition of Hardball, Matthews stated, "The Republicans will know they have lost ... Let them keep score and it's easy. It's complicated when liberals get to keep score. We're always arguing. Well, I'm a liberal, too."
In March 2012, Matthews described himself as a centrist during an episode of his MSNBC talk show Hardball. That statement was questioned by Mediaite's Josh Feldman directly afterward, based on Matthews's frequent condemnation of right-wing political figures and his emotional expression of support for Barack Obama's presidential campaign. Feldman observed that Matthews has criticized liberals such as Hillary Clinton and occasionally even Barack Obama, and that this could explain Matthews's description of himself as a "centrist".
In 2013, Matthews announced that he had signed a long-term contract extension with MSNBC but that he would no longer host The Chris Matthews Show in order to focus his efforts on Hardball, writing books, and producing documentaries. The final episode of The Chris Matthews Show aired on July 21.
In December 2018, Matthews interviewed U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard, who stated she was "seriously considering" running for President.
On February 7, 2020, during a panel discussion following a Democratic Party presidential candidate debate in New Hampshire, Matthews referenced Bernie Sanders's praise for aspects of Fidel Castro's Cuba, saying "if Castro and the Reds had won the Cold War, there would [have been] executions in Central Park and I might have been one of the ones getting executed and certain other people would be there cheering, OK? So I have a problem with people who took the other side." His remarks were mocked by left-wing commentators.
During the opening monologue of his Monday, March 2, 2020 show, Matthews announced his immediately-effective retirement from Hardball. MSNBC had executed a long-term contract with Matthews, in 2013, to retain him with the network at least through the 2016 election, and he was expected to retire after the 2020 election cycle, with an exit after Election Day in November 2020 likely.
Following his resignation, Matthews garnered well-wishes from professional colleagues in the news media and others, including from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who noted Matthews's willingness to "criticize the neocon pro-war agenda."