March 3 (UPI) -- Chris Matthews, host of the popular political talk show Hardball on MSNBC, abruptly retired on Monday following a string of controversial remarks on his program and accusations of impropriety.
Matthews, 74, who'd been an MSNBC fixture since 1997, announced his retirement on Monday night's show.
"Let me start with my headline tonight: I'm retiring," he said. "This is the last Hardball on MSNBC. And obviously, this isn't for the lack of interest in politics.
"As you can tell, I loved every minute of my 20 years as host of Hardball. Every morning I read the papers and I'm gung-ho to get to work. Not many people have had this privilege."
Before Monday, Matthews was said to be in discussions with the network about retiring after the 2020 election.
Matthews' exit may have been hastened by controversies in recent weeks. During MSNBC's coverage of the Nevada caucuses last month, he compared the victory by Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders to Nazi Germany's takeover of France during World War II. Matthews later apologized on his program.
The next night, he drew complaints of sexism for a terse interview of Democratic candidate and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- and last week was criticized for confusing the identities of two black South Carolina politicians, Sen. Tim Scott and Senate candidate Jaime Harrison.
Then came a column from journalist Laura Bassett for the magazine GQ, which recounted comments in the past Matthews had made about her appearance that she found inappropriate.
"Compliments on a woman's appearance that some men, including me, might have once incorrectly thought were okay were not okay, not then and certainly not today. And for making such comments in the past, I'm sorry," Matthews responded.
MSNBC said Hardball will be filled with interim hosts until the network decides on on the future of the program's time slot.