Chris Matthews has been all over television this past week as part of his book tour, but the former MSNBC star has made several appearances on his old stomping grounds, perhaps paving the way for a potential comeback.
Last Tuesday, Matthews was interviewed on "The ReidOut" to promote his new memoir "This Country: My Life in Politics and History," marking his first appearance on MSNBC since his abrupt departure from the liberal network in March 2020.
"Matthews appears to be testing the waters to see if it’s safe for him to appear on places like MSNBC without a big backlash on social media threatening boycotts or to cancel him permanently," The Hill media columnist and Fox News contributor Joe Concha told Fox News. "And from the looks of it, Matthews has avoided anything tangibly negative."
The once-prominent MSNBC star was forced to resign amid a slew of controversies, most notably after journalist Laura Bassett accused the host of using sexist language when she was invited onto his show as a guest.
Notably, "The ReidOut" was the program that ultimately took over the timeslot left vacant by the "Hardball" host, but there appeared to be no hard feelings between Matthews and his former colleague Joy Reid.
"Joy, I'm glad to see you in that seat," Matthews told Reid. "You've certainly earned it. When I left, I'm glad you came."
After discussing his book and his thoughts on the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill, Matthews was asked about the "upshot" of leaving MSNBC.
"The upshot is that I know a lot of people come up to me and say ‘I miss you personally,’" Matthews responded. "They like you but they miss me. I had good company together … But I think the reason- I know the reason I left is that somebody reported that I complimented somebody … I commented, remarked on somebody's appearance in the makeup room. And I shouldn't have done that. Nobody has to come to defend me. And, by the way, I kept all of my friends, but nobody needs to defend me. I did something wrong … I lost my show over it. That's it. So that's the truth."
Matthews has since been invited on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday, NBC's "Today" show on Thursday and participated in the panel discussion on Sunday's installment of NBC's "Meet the Press."
"For a company that finally claimed it was taking allegations of inappropriate comments and conduct against Chris Matthews seriously, they sure weren't acting like it with all of the interviews they set up with him during the last week or so," NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck told Fox News. "I think it's safe to say that the onslaught of Matthews interviews on Comcast-owned networks … has revealed that, if you're the right person who holds left-wing views, all can be forgiven in the eyes of the liberal media."
However, Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson seemed doubtful that Matthews' recent MSNBC and NBC are anything more than old friends helping him sell some books, but noted that the Peacock networks are also known for giving second chances to its liberal stars.
"This seems to be a way to help out an old colleague who left under unfavorable circumstances," Jacobson told Fox News. "It's hard to imagine he would make a comeback, but then again, MSNBC offered Brian Williams a new home."
Jacobson was referring to the 2015 ousting of "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams after admitting he fabricated stories about his reporting in the field. He lost the anchor job after a suspension, but he eventually joined MSNBC and got his own show in 2016.
Efforts to rehabilitate the careers of MSNBC stars haven't always worked. In 2019, it was reported that "Morning Joe" co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski made a failed attempt to launch a comeback behind the scenes for former MSNBC political analyst Mark Halperin, who was fired in 2017 following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Neither MSNBC nor NBC responded to Fox News' inquiry about whether or not Matthews is being considered to rejoin the NBC News family, including the Peacock streaming service.
In an op-ed for GQ, Bassett recalled him looking at her in an adjacent makeup chair before an appearance in 2016 and asking: 'Why haven’t I fallen in love with you yet?'"
Bassett said she laughed nervously but Matthews kept making comments to the makeup artist. "Keep putting makeup on her, I’ll fall in love with her," Matthews allegedly said.
She said he made another comment about her makeup during a separate appearance. "Make sure you wipe this off her face after the show," she wrote he said to the makeup artist. "We don’t make her up so some guy at a bar can look at her like this."