Hardball with Chris Matthews

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Hardball with Chris Matthews
Directed byRay Herbert
Presented byChris Matthews
Country of originUnited States
Production location(s)Washington D.C.
Running time60 minutes
Original networkMSNBC
Picture format480i (16:9 letterbox SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release1994–1996
(America's Talking)
1999 –
present (MSNBC)
External links

Hardball with Chris Matthews is an American television talk show on MSNBC, broadcast weekdays at 7 PM ET[1] hosted by Chris Matthews. The program was originally broadcast on the now-defunct America's Talking (as Politics with Chris Matthews) and then later, on CNBC; the current title was derived from a book Matthews wrote in 1988, Hardball: How Politics Is Played Told by One Who Knows the Game.

Hardball is a talking-head style cable news show, in which the moderator advances opinions on a wide range of topics, focusing primarily on current political issues; these issues are discussed with a panel of guests that usually consists of political analysts and sometimes include politicians. Matthews starts each episode with a brief comment on a current story and follows it with the invitation, "Let's play hardball."


Hardball was originally broadcast on CNBC from 1997 until 1999, when the program was moved to its current home on MSNBC.[2]

Guest hosts[edit]

Hardball has had a variety of guest hosts when Chris Matthews is unavailable; the most regular guest hosts as of late are Steve Kornacki, Joy Reid, Mike Barnicle, Chuck Todd, Ron Reagan and Michael Smerconish. Previous guest hosts include Lawrence O'Donnell, Andrea Mitchell, David Gregory, Campbell Brown, Norah O'Donnell and Pete Williams.

Regular guests[edit]

The program features many regular guests, including:

International broadcasts[edit]

MSNBC and NBC News programming is shown for several hours a day on the 24-hour news network OSN News in MENA Region.

Notable moments[edit]

Matthews caused controversy with remarks made off the air at a celebration of Hardball's 10-year anniversary in October 2007. He claimed that the Bush administration - specifically Vice President Cheney's office - has tried to "silence" him by pressuring MSNBC executives to put a stop to Matthews' criticism of the Iraq War;[3] the White House declined to comment.

Michele Bachmann[edit]

On October 17, 2008, Minnesota representative Michele Bachmann gave an interview on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews in support of the presidential campaign of Senator John McCain. In speaking of Senator Barack Obama Bachmann said: "we know that he is the most liberal Senator in the United States Senate and that's just after one year of being there ... [with Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid ] you have a Troika of the most leftist administration in the history of our country."[4] In reference to Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin's comment about "pro-America areas of this great nation", Bachmann was asked which areas are anti-American and responded "I don’t think it's geography. I think it is people who don’t like America, who detest America ... you’ll find them in all walks of life all throughout America."[4] When asked by Matthews about the Democratic Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader, Bachmann said "I am not going to say if they are anti-American or pro-American."[4] When asked "How many people in the Congress of the United States do you suspect as being anti-American?" she replied "What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that."[4]

Bachmann's comments had an immediate impact on her re-election campaign. A campaign urging Congress to officially censure Bachmann was launched with over 35,000 signatures in the first 24 hours after her Hardball appearance.[5] In less than 72 hours, her congressional election opponent Elwyn Tinklenberg received $740,000 in donations.[6] Tinklenberg said that he heard "in that kind of a call echoes of the House Un-American Activities Committee."[7] However, Bachmann defeated Tinklenberg 46.4% to 43.4% in the November 4, 2008 election.


Chris Matthews (right) interviews John Harwood (left) and Howard Fineman (center) on Hardball, while in Denver for the 2008 Democratic National Convention

Michelle Malkin[edit]

The format of the show, and Matthews' interview style, can lead to confrontations. Perhaps the most famous examples came during the 2004 presidential campaign. On August 19, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin appeared on the show and raised the question of whether Democratic candidate John Kerry's Vietnam War wounds could have been "self-inflicted", saying that such questions were "legitimate". Matthews repeatedly asked Malkin if she thought that Kerry "shot himself on purpose" in order to avoid combat or to gain accolades, noting that such an act would constitute a criminal offense. Matthews challenged Malkin to "say to me right now that you believe he shot himself to get credit for a Purple Heart-- on purpose." Malkin refused to answer, instead referring to allegations made by some of Kerry's former fellow soldiers. Matthews told Malkin that Hardball "is not a show for this kind of talk." Malkin asked if Matthews didn't wonder whether Kerry's wounds may have been self-inflicted, to which the host responded, "No! I don't, it's never occurred to me."[8]

Zell Miller[edit]

Days later, then-U.S. Senator Zell Miller, (DGeorgia), a Democrat who supported then-Republican President George W. Bush, appeared on Hardball. Miller had just given the keynote address at the Republican convention. Matthews took Miller to task for his statement that soldiers, not reporters, are responsible for freedom of the press, accusing the Senator of making the comment only "to get an applause line against the media at a conservative convention." Miller had also criticized Kerry's record on national defense issues during his speech, prompting Matthews to ask if the Senator believed that Kerry did not want to "defend the country." During a heated exchange in which each man interrupted the other several times, Miller shouted at Matthews to "get out of my face" and angrily stated that he wished "we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel." He also made reference to the Malkin interview, telling Matthews not to "pull that stuff on me like you did that young lady, when you had her there browbeating her to death. I'm not her."[9]

Ann Coulter and Elizabeth Edwards[edit]

On June 26, 2007, conservative commentator Ann Coulter was the guest when Elizabeth Edwards, wife of then-Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards, made a surprise (per Coulter afterwards) call to the program. Coulter had made a speech days earlier in which she said, "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot’."[10] Elizabeth Edwards confronted Coulter about the comment, as well as other comments Coulter has made accusing John Edwards of exploiting his son's death for political gain. Edwards asked Coulter to "stop the personal attacks" and accused her of "lowering the political dialogue" in America. Coulter responded that Edwards' complaints were an attempt to raise money for the presidential campaign, and questioned why the candidate himself was not making the call.[11]

Kevin James[edit]

On May 15, 2008, Matthews had a confrontation with radio broadcaster Kevin James when he appeared on the show. At issue was a controversial speech made by President George W. Bush in Israel, where he appeared to claim that statements made by United States presidential candidate Barack Obama were tantamount to Neville Chamberlain's actions of "Nazi appeasement" in 1938. James agreed with the notion that Obama's positions were like Chamberlain's policy of appeasement but was unable to elaborate on what exactly Chamberlain did.[12]

In popular culture[edit]

The show has been spoofed by Saturday Night Live, with Darrell Hammond portraying Chris Matthews. One of the first instances was during the Florida election recount following the unclear results of the 2000 United States presidential election.

Hardball appeared on the October 9, 2005 episode of The West Wing, "Message of the Week" (which was written by frequent Hardball guest Lawrence O'Donnell), with Chris Matthews playing himself, he interviews fictional Republican presidential candidate Arnold Vinick (played by Alan Alda) and pressures him about his views on immigration. The tough nature of Matthews' questions prompts the character of Josh Lyman, a strategist for Vinick's opponent, to shout: "Yeah! Welcome to Hardball, Arnie!"

The show was featured in the February 22, 2007, 30 Rock episode "Hard Ball", in which series character Jenna Maroney came on the show to explain about how she was misquoted in Maxim magazine about US military troops, but embarrassed herself even further when she confused Barack Obama with Osama bin Laden after she mentions whom she would support for U.S. president in 2008.

The 2008 film Swing Vote contains several segments of Chris Matthews delivering commentary on Hardball that relates to the film's plot line. Matthews received a credited cameo for recording the segments.[13]


  • "The Hardball Sideshow": This segment shows the lighter side of politics such as gaffes, appearances on other shows, and other humorous moments.
  • "The Strategists": A Republican strategist and a Democratic strategist debate certain topics of the day. Democrat Steve McMahon and Republican Todd Harris often are guests in this segment.
  • "The Politics Fix": A roundtable discussion about the political news of the day.
  • "Tell Me Something I Don't Know": Panel members offer up little-known or overlooked details about current stories.
  • "Trump Watch": A brief closing commentary about events surrounding the administration of President Donald Trump.

The Hardball Award[edit]

The Hardball Award is an award created in 2009 that recognized individuals "who displays a combination of guts and political moxie to win not just the day but our fondest admiration."[14] The award is not given on a regular basis; instead, it is given when someone displays character consistent with the award. Recipients:

Hardball: How Politics Is Played[edit]

Hardball: How Politics Is Played Told by One Who Knows the Game was Chris Matthews's first book, which led to the creation of the show.


  1. ^ "MSNBC's Ed Schultz returns to weekdays, Chris Matthews's 'Hardball' to 7 p.m."
  2. ^ Hardball with Chris Matthews on IMDb
  3. ^ Matthews: V.P.'s office tried to silence me on Cheney's Iraq role Salon.com
  4. ^ a b c d Interview with Rep. Michele Bachmann. Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC.com. 2008-10-17. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
  5. ^ "Stand Up America PAC". Censurebachmann.com. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  6. ^ AP Archived October 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Democrats seek to unseat Michele Bachmann minnesota.publicradio.org
  8. ^ Michelle Malkin on Hardball on YouTube
  9. ^ Zell Miller Slams Chris Matthews on YouTube
  10. ^ "Coulter under fire for anti-gay slur". CNN. March 4, 2007. Retrieved February 25, 2010. I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate, John Edwards, but it turns out that you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I'm - so, kind of at an impasse, can't really talk about Edwards
  11. ^ Elizabeth Edwards vs. Ann Coulter - First Read MSNBC.com
  12. ^ Video Clip Appearance from MSNBC's Hardball depicting Chris Matthews with Kevin James
  13. ^ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1027862/fullcredits#cast
  14. ^ a b "Hardball with Chris Matthews for Friday, January 9 - Hardball with Chris Matthews- msnbc.com". MSNBC. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  15. ^ "Hardball with Chris Matthews for Friday, January 16 - Hardball with Chris Matthews- msnbc.com". MSNBC. 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2010-02-23.

External links[edit]

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The Beat with Ari Melber
MSNBC Weekday Lineup
7:00 PM–8:00 PM
Succeeded by
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MSNBC Weekday Lineup
2:00 AM–3:00 AM
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All In with Chris Hayes
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MSNBC Doc Block
MSNBC Early Weekend Lineup
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