For possibly the first time in his long career, Chris Matthews has decided to slow things down.
The MSNBC host and Philadelphia native is launching a podcast next week called So You Wanna Be President? According to Matthews, the six-episode series will be a deep dive into political campaigns of the past through the stories of the reporters or insiders who covered them.
“I’ve been in this business so long, I’ve got all these stories,” Matthews, 74, told the Inquirer. “What I really wanted it to be like is longtime Washington veterans out for a drink one night, sharing campaign stories.”
“It’ll be a little slower than I do Hardball,” Matthews added. “I think it’s a chance to settle down with some people who can let you know what happened in the back room, offer little more perspective, and give [listeners] a sense of the decisions and mistakes that are made during campaigns that make all the difference.”
The first two episodes of So You Wanna Be President? will be available to download Monday, Jan. 27. After that, new episodes will be released weekly.
The series features interviews with a diverse group of political experts that includes former Ronald Reagan speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan and PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff, who covered Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign for NBC. It will also include archival recordings of the candidates and campaigns themselves, digging deep into the extensive archives of NBC News.
“There’s a quality to the sound which overwhelms you. You get this late-night FM sound, it’s really nice,” Matthews said.
The episodes will be broken down by themes universal to all political campaigns rather than individual candidates. One episode titled “The Walls Have Ears,” an old phrase often repeated by former House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, focuses on the embarrassing comments that tend to leak to reporters. Another episode is focused on the Iowa caucus and its importance in determining eventual presidential nominees.
Matthews’ new show is part of a push into podcasting by MSNBC and NBC News that goes beyond reformatting the network’s shows and serving them to listeners. Rachel Maddow’s podcast Bag Men, a seven-part series about the resignation of Richard Nixon’s vice president Spiro Agnew, was nominated for a Peabody award and won a prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award. MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes, Stephanie Ruhle, and Steve Kornacki all host their own podcasts in addition to their work on television.
Despite taking a slower pace for the podcast, Matthews will certainly be keeping busy over the next few weeks. In addition to recording the final episodes of So You Wanna Be President?, he’ll be part of MSNBC’s live coverage of the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. He also recently celebrated Hardball’s 20th anniversary on MSNBC.