Chris Matthews is celebrating 20 years as host of an MSNBC news/commentary talk show, “Hardball.” He has been getting salutes from fellow media stars, politicians and entertainers.
I don’t qualify as any of those categories of individuals, but I want to offer a salute of my own.
You see, I met Chris Matthews once before he was, well, “Chris Matthews.”
It was the summer of 1992 in sweltering Houston, Texas. Matthews and I worked for the same media corporate employer, the Hearst Corporation. I was attending the Republican National Convention at the Houston Astrodome while working as editorial page editor of the Beaumont Enterprise; Matthews was there as a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. He hadn’t yet made his big splash on cable news TV, although Matthews was a frequent guest — as I remember it — on the PBS program “The McLaughlin Group.”
The Hearst Newspapers had a work station deep in the bowels of the Astrodome. We all had our areas where we could organize our notes and send stories back to our newspapers through the primitive computer systems we used at the time.
One morning, I went to the small coffee bar we had set up in our work stations. Who do you think joined me there? Chris Matthews, that’s who. We chatted for a few minutes. I told him I enjoyed publishing his column in the Beaumont Enterprise; he thanked me for the exposure was getting in Southeast Texas. We had a laugh or two about what we had seen the previous day. Then our encounter ended.
My recollection of this guy, whose media personality is loud, brash, borderline rude is that he was much quieter when he was chatting with a fellow Hearst-oid. Yes, he is a gentleman.
OK, I admit to being a bit star struck as I recall that brief meeting. I doubt Chris Matthews would remember it, given the journeys our respective lives took after that encounter in the Houston Astrodome.
If he would remember, I would be flattered to the max. If he doesn’t, that’s all right. I do.