Is he trying to appeal to a younger audience? Or is the hyperactive Chris Matthews taking his “Hardball” style to a pick-up game’s trash talk? Last night, blissfully unaware that he had returned from commercial break, Matthews yelled at his producers: “We’re all reacting here and we’re putting on shit, we have nothing going.” Matthews was referring to his program’s breaking news coverage of New York mayor Bloomberg’s departure from the Republican Party to “unaffiliated” status.


Getting his legs back under him, Matthews led into Brian Williams’ recent taped interview with Bloomberg, and when the live program resumed, he apologized in earnest, “I shouldn’t have that word on the air…I didn’t think I was…things are breaking around here and we’re trying to get the story on the air.”


But this wasn’t the first time he “slipped” on the air. In January, in the heat of a Middle East foreign policy debate, he told a guest, “We are not going to fight it out with Iran for the next thirty years to see who the big shit…” Then, smiling, he said “I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have said that…get that off the tape!”


Matthews’ second gaffe was on—where else?—“Imus in the Morning!” Attacking President Bush, Matthews fumed, “I’m so sick of Southern guys with ranches running this country…I want a guy to run for president who doesn’t have a fucking ranch…” He tried quickly to speak over his expletive, but, ironically, Don Imus interrupted Matthews and asked his producers if the delay kicked in. Asked why he was swearing, Matthews said “I don’t know…I get excited.”


Who knows if the FCC and MSNBC will deliver any warnings to Mr. Matthews’ desk. But, once again, we see the perils of live TV.

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Alexander Heffner is an intern at CJR.