MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to deliver University’s Commencement address

Chris Matthews — host of “Hardball with Chris Matthews” on MSNBC and of “The Chris Matthews Show,” a syndicated weekly news program produced by NBC News, and regular commentator on NBC’s “Today” show — has been selected to give the 2008 Commencement address, according to Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

The University’s 147th Commencement will begin at 8:30 a.m. May 16 in Brookings Quadrangle on the Danforth Campus.

Chris Matthews

“It is a privilege to have Chris Matthews deliver the Commencement address to our graduates this spring,” Wrighton said. “Chris Matthews continues to be an important figure in the national news media with respect to the American political process. He is familiar with both Washington University and the pressing challenges that face our society today — challenges that our new graduates will be working to overcome and address.”

Matthews, the host of “Hardball” since 1997, is no stranger to the Washington University campus. He covered the 2004 presidential debates at WUSTL and was the keynote speaker for Founders Day that same year.

A television news anchor with remarkable depth of experience, Matthews has distinguished himself as a broadcast journalist, newspaper bureau chief, presidential speechwriter and best-selling author.

Matthews worked for 15 years as a print journalist, 13 of them as Washington Bureau Chief for The San Francisco Examiner (1987-2000) and two years as a national columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle (2000-02). His column was syndicated to 200 newspapers by United Media.

Matthews covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa and the Good Friday Peace Talks in Northern Ireland. In 1997 and ’98, his digging into the National Archives produced The San Francisco Examiner’s series of scoops on the Nixon presidential tapes. Matthews has covered American presidential election campaigns since 1988, including the five-week recount of 2000. In 2005, Matthews covered the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

In March 2004, he received the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. He has also been awarded The Abraham Lincoln Award from the Union League of Philadelphia, and, in 2005, he received the Gold Medal Award from the Pennsylvania Society.

Before moving into journalism, Matthews spent 15 years in politics and government. He worked in the White House for four years under Jimmy Carter as a presidential speechwriter and on the President’s Reorganization Project. He worked in the U.S. Senate on the staffs of Sen. Frank Moss (Utah) and Sen. Edmund Muskie (Maine) for five years and as the top aide to Speaker of the House Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. for six years.

Matthews also is the author of four best-selling books, including “Now, Let Me Tell You What I Really Think” (2001) and “American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions” (2002).

His first book, “Hardball: How Politics Is Played Told By One Who Knows The Game” (1988), is required reading in many college-level political science courses. “Kennedy & Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America” (1996) was named by Reader’s Digest as “Today’s Best Non-fiction” and served as the basis of a documentary on The History Channel. His latest book, “Life’s a Campaign: What Politics Has Taught Me About Friendship, Rivalry, Reputation, and Success,” was released in 2007.

A graduate of Holy Cross College, Matthews did graduate work in economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Matthews also worked for two years as a trade development advisor with the U.S. Peace Corps in Swaziland.

Matthews was a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics. He holds 16 honorary doctorates.

He is married to Kathleen Matthews. They have 3 children: Michael, Thomas and Caroline.