Following a recent increase in the frequency of on-air gaffes and questionable comments topped off with accusations of sexist harassment, Chris Matthews, longtime host of MSNBC’s Hardball, abruptly “retired” at the beginning of his program on Monday and is no longer with the network.
The search is now on for Matthews’ replacement and, according to the New York Post’s Page Six, former Fox News midday anchor Shepard Smith is at the top of the list of potential picks to fill that role.
Smith may fill Matthews’ shoes
Readers will no doubt recall that Smith similarly resigned in abrupt fashion from Fox in October of 2019, albeit without the impetus of scandalous accusations lodged against him or growing concerns about his ability to competently do the job.
It was widely assumed by many that, at some point in the coming months, Smith would make a return to TV news in some capacity, either on one of the broadcast or cable media outlets, and that day may now soon arrive.
Indeed, Smith may even prove to be the perfect choice to replace Matthews in what an unnamed TV news source described as the “tricky” time slot of 7 p.m. Eastern Time, which essentially bridges the gap between the straight news programs of the early evening and the more opinion-oriented primetime lineups of most cable networks.
“It comes straight after the evening news, when viewers want anchors to weigh in with their own thoughts and analysis — not just read the headlines, so it’s a tough gig,” the anonymous senior source said.
Smith, in his midday anchor role at Fox, often did just that during the afternoons, covering the headlines of the day while adding in a measure of opinionated analysis.
Also reportedly up for consideration as a replacement for Matthews is MSNBC’s national political correspondent Steve Kornacki.
In fact, it was a seemingly bewildered and blindsided Kornacki who took over for Matthews on Monday after a commercial break that followed Matthews’ abrupt announcement of his departure from the network.
Aside from Kornacki, MSNBC executives are also looking at promoting weekend host Joy Reid to fill Matthews’ weekday early evening slot. Reid, who currently hosts AM Joy on the weekends, has often served as a fill-in host for other MSNBC primetime stars including Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow.
A perfect fit?
Whatever one thinks of Smith and his devolution over recent years into a bitter anti-Trump media personality, there is little denying that, as a newsman, he did a decent job in delivering both the headlines of the day as well as the deeper meaning of the story beneath the headlines.
That journalistic reputation, in addition to his virulent opposition to President Donald Trump, would seemingly make Smith the perfect candidate to take over for Matthews in the now-open slot on the staunchly anti-Trump cable news network.