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Why MSNBC’s ‘Statesman’ Chose TV over the Senate

Chris Matthews is an MSNBC original. His show “Hardball” is older than the network itself, having begun its run on the old “America’s Talking” channel founded by Roger Ailes before moving to CNBC and then MSNBC. Despite approaching his 20th anniversary with NBC, Matthews is considered “the model figure” for the new MSNBC. His boss, network president Phil Griffin tells the AP’s David Bauder Matthews is, “as good as he’s ever been” and “is sort of the model figure for who we are.” Bauder writes,

Matthews symbolized MSNBC’s growing comfort in being a liberal alternative to Fox News Channel. With Keith Olbermann out of sight, Matthews essentially replaced him as the commentator that most annoyed conservative viewers.

“During the run-up to the Iraq War, he just became really, really partisan and became even more so when MSNBC decided to become the anti-Fox,” said Geoff Dickens, who used to watch Matthews as a fan and now monitors him regularly as part of his job with the conservative Media Research Center.

Griffin, who produced “Hardball” for many years before moving on to other jobs at NBC/MSNBC, knows Matthews better than most. Matthews “is at a place in his life where he’s really comfortable in his own skin,” says Griffin. “He’s a statesman.”

About that idea of running for Senate four years ago. Matthews recently said he would have been “one of the stars of the Democratic Party,” had he run and won. But being a party guy might have worn on him quickly. Matthews tells Bauder: “I never want to do what everybody else is doing. I don’t want to be part of the chorus.”

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