THE UNBREAKABLE BOND…. As Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) slips further and further into the realm of far-right hacks, most of the media figures who adored him fall into one of two camps.

The first is Dana Milbank’s camp, which consists of media professionals who kept making excuses for McCain, but who are now saddened by the senator’s descent into a pool of far-right nonsense. The second is Jon Stewart’s camp, which consists of former McCainiacs who are just disgusted, if not angry, to see the senator abandon everything he seemed to believe in.

And then there’s Chris Matthews, who simply doesn’t care how much McCain abandons any sense of integrity or character — he’ll just keep loving McCain anyway.

On “Hardball” yesterday, the MSNBC host described the Republican senator as “a great guy,” adding that McCain is “a maverick like Barry Goldwater was a maverick.”

“If my endorsement helps you, John McCain, you’ve got it,” Matthews said on the air. “If it doesn’t, throw me under the bus.”

I’m not surprised, but it’s worth appreciating just how genuinely sad this is. John McCain acts like a moderate willing to break party ranks and blow off the right-wing, and media personalities like Chris Matthews swoon. McCain abandons that persona to become a far-right hack, and media personalities like Chris Matthews swoon anyway, assuming the senator doesn’t really mean it.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.