Matthews, a former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, has hosted "Hardball" on MSNBC since 1999 and remained a centrist voice on the cable news channel's prime-time programming, which often features commentary that is further to the left.
MSNBC executives had discussed Matthews' looming retirement, with an exit after Election Day likely, according to two people familiar with internal network discussions.
He also drew criticism Friday for comparing Bernie Sanders' victory in the Nevada caucuses to the World War II Nazi takeover of France. Laura Bassett wrote in GQ last week that he had "inappropriately flirted" with her before an appearance on his show, "making me noticeably uncomfortable on air".
"Compliments on a woman's appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were okay, were never okay".
"For making such comments in the past, I'm sorry", Matthews said on the broadcast.
"For decades, Chris Matthews has used his position to harass women with sexist and predatory comments, while undermining women serving in public office", said Thomas.
Longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews began his Monday night show with his resignation, following controversial comments he made over the last few weeks and new allegations that he had previously made inappropriate remarks to a woman appearing on his show.
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During his retirement announcement, Matthews explained, "After my conversation with NBC, I decided tonight will be my last 'Hardball.' I'll tell you why". "And I know how much you meant to him and I know how much he meant to you, and I think you're going to miss him and I know I'm going to". Lindsey Graham's primary opponent Jaime Harrison with Graham's GOP colleague, Sen.
By Saturday, some of the anchor's confidants had grown concerned about his position at the network.
Hardball previously aired new episodes with Chris Matthews at the helm on weekday nights at 7 p.m. ET on MSNBC. Matthews had been set to appear that evening as part of MSNBC's coverage of the SC primary.
On Monday, Matthews concluded his MSNBC career by telling viewers that he would miss them and borrowing a line from "Casablanca".
"I'm sure you're still absorbing that, and I am too", he said. But remember Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca: we'll always have Hardball.
When the show returned, a visibly shocked Steve Kornacki had taken over the anchor spot. "So let's not say goodbye, but till we meet again".
"That was a lot to take in", Kornacki said, adding that it was an honor to work with Matthews.