Another side to Chris Matthews

Sep 16, 2002  •  Post A Comment

One thing cable news fans know about MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is to expect the unexpected.
The self-described “outspoken” host will launch “The Chris Matthews Show,” a weekly syndicated half-hour through NBC Enterprises, on Sept. 22 in 93 percent of the country.
Earlier this summer he was stricken with malaria, temporarily forcing him off his weekday MSNBC program “Hardball With Chris Matthews,” plus he retired his 15-year column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Now Mr. Matthews feels his game is about to hit a new level with an additional program and he intends to show a new side of himself: “Reflection and manners,” he said.
“During the week on `Hardball’ my feeling is that if someone starts to meander or repeat themselves, I’m going to stop them,” said Mr. Matthews. “With the new show, I’ve made a resolution not to interrupt, at least not as much, and let our guests talk. We’re going to have some very smart people on the show, and because we’re focusing on commentary on the week’s key issues we’ll get some in-depth perspective instead of prepared speeches.”
Based in Washington, the upcoming series, which promises to add spice to the lineup of weekend newsmaker shows, will reexamine the week’s key stories, including outside-the-beltway issues, with Mr. Matthews anchoring a varying panel of journalistic perspectives dissecting the agenda.
“I’m going to make sure there isn’t any wasted time for the viewer, so we’re going to get right to the bottom line on a lot of things,” he said. “This is a chance to be in broadcast and reach a large audience of people who may not be inclined to watch news on the cable channels.”
The series, to be produced by NBC News and distributed by NBC Enterprises, is slated to air on the NBC-owned stations, securing a Saturday 6:30 p.m. time slot in Los Angles and a Sunday 11:30 a.m. period in New York. At the helm of “The Chris Matthews Show” is executive producer Nancy Nathan. Ms. Nathan had been executive producer of “Meet the Press With Tim Russert” since 1998 and continues as the director of NBC News’ Polling Unit.
“Because this is a week-in-review show, one of the principal things that will distinguish the series will be that reporters, editors and the occasional political activist will serve as our panel, rather than politicians,” Ms. Nathan said. “Chris is simply the perfect person to bring them all together. He understands the real reason things happen and has an intuitive sense of politics and can analyze body language and what the thinking was behind a political move.”
According to NBC Enterprises President Ed Wilson, the series will combine the talents of Mr. Matthews and Ms. Nathan to create a new breed of show.
“Nancy is bringing an established Rolodex of both the old Washington establishment as well as the new Washington to the table, while Chris is very in touch with the younger viewer,” Mr. Wilson said. “Based on that, we’ve been able to pin down clearances that [are] going to provide a higher CPM than any other weekend show. After all, if I’m going to do a show about current events, who better to go through than NBC News?” Shortly after signing a contract extension with MSNBC through 2009, Mr. Matthews was diagnosed with malaria, prompting a hiatus from “Hardball.” The experience brought a new perspective to his own life.
“I was simply overwhelmed by the personal attention and gifts I received from people ranging from co-workers to senators,” he said. “But I feel like I’m a little more focused on my family-the usual experience you go through when you experience a calamity.”