MSNBC Host Walks Off After Weeks of Pointless Pre-Emptions and No Communication
Melissa Harris Perry doesn't know if she's been canceled. For the past few weeks, and other times over the past few months, her weekend MSNBC political and cultural talk show without any particular reason, just has not been on. No guest host, just no "Melissa Harris Perry" show.
The Wake Forest University professor, civil rights activist and MSNBC host has now walked off, and is refusing to do her show this weekend.
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” Harris-Perry wrote in an email, the New York Times reports. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”
“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” Harris-Perry continued. “I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin or MSNBC,” she said, referring to the heads of NBC News and MSNBC, respectively.
“I love our show. I want it back.”
In an interview with The New York Times, Harris-Perry said, “I don’t know if there is a personal racial component,” adding, “I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person.”
The Times reports Harris-Perry "said she had received no word about whether her show, which runs from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and Sundays, had been canceled, but said she was frustrated that her time slot had faced pre-emptions for coverage of the presidential election. She said she had not appeared on the network at all 'for weeks' and that she was mostly sidelined during recent election coverage in South Carolina and New Hampshire."
Harris-Perry's full email, which is addressed to her staff, has just been published to Medium by her former producer, Jamil Smith.
"Putting me on air seems to be a decision being made solely to save face because there is a growing chorus of questions from our viewers about my notable absence from MSNBC coverage," Harris-Perry writes. "Social media has noted the dramatic change in editorial tone and racial composition of MSNBC’s on-air coverage. In addition, Dylan Byers of CNN has made repeated inquiries with MSNBC’s leadership and with me about the show and what appears to be its cancellation. I have not responded to reporters or social media inquiries. However, I am not willing to appear on air in order to quell concerns about the disappearance of our show and our voice."
I have stayed in the same hotels where MSNBC has been broadcasting in Iowa, in New Hampshire, and in South Carolina, yet I have been shut out from coverage. I have a PhD in political science and have taught American voting and elections at some of the nation’s top universities for nearly two decades, yet I have been deemed less worthy to weigh in than relative novices and certified liars. I have hosted a weekly program on this network for four years and contributed to election coverage on this network for nearly eight years, but no one on the third floor has even returned an email, called me, or initiated or responded to any communication of any kind from me for nearly a month. It is profoundly hurtful to realize that I work for people who find my considerable expertise and editorial judgment valueless to the coverage they are creating.
While MSNBC may believe that I am worthless, I know better. I know who I am. I know why MHP Show is unique and valuable. I will not sell short myself or this show. I am not hungry for empty airtime. I care only about substantive, meaningful, and autonomous work. When we can do that, I will return — not a moment earlier. I am deeply sorry for the ways that this decision makes life harder for all of you. You mean more to me than you can imagine.
In treating an amazing talent like Melissa Harris-Perry in this manner, MSNBC is revealing just how little respect it has not only for an incredible journalist and host, but for its viewers. The flailing "Place for Politics" has been an embarrassment for years, and ever since Comcast took over NBC, MSNBC has grown increasingly conservative.
The formerly liberal network has allowed incessant rumors about its only Emmy-award winning host, Chris Hayes, to continue without end, rumors that Hayes will be fired over ratings concerns. In the mean time, Hayes every day delivers some of the best and most intelligent coverage on any network in the U.S., yet is treated like trash. A few days ago, without explanation, Hayes was anchoring MSNBC's 4:00 PM hour.
MSNBC continues to allow its morning team of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to fawn and literally hang out with Donald Trump, as the "news" network literally fawns over him as well. Several weeks ago, Chris Matthews hosted a one-hour Trump love fest that boggled the mind.
Last month, the otherwise excellent MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall was allowed to call the Oregon occupiers "citizen activists," as opposed to "militiamen," or even "domestic terrorists.
And MSNBC has continued to provide a platform to leaders and spokespersons of known hate groups.
MSNBC is not the network that progressives, liberals, and Democrats need or deserve, and, sadly, it's increasingly clear it has no intention to be.
UPDATE I –
NBC News – not MSNBC – gave the Times a statement:
“In this exciting and unpredictable presidential primary season, many of our daytime programs have been temporarily upended by breaking political coverage, including M.H.P. This reaction is really surprising, confusing and disappointing.”
Way to apologize and stand by your talent.
UPDATE II –
This tweet from Buzzfeed's Legal Editor Chris Geidner says it all:
Here's the tweet Geidner links to:
And who is Rick Tyler? Ted Cruz's unscrupulous former, and now fired, communications director. I once wrote an open letter lambasting him for disgustingly twisting Cruz's positions on same-sex marriage. Cruz, of course, fired him for posting a video that claimed Marco Rubio had disparaged the Bible, contributing to the increasingly loud cries that Cruz is a liar and condoning dirty tricks.
So, of course MSNBC hired him, immediately.
CNN's Brian Stelter, who reports on the media, posted this tweet:
Look, I'm a direct time slot competitor. But MHP is one of a kind. A tenured prof TV host! I profiled her in 2012: https://t.co/zs2OYvJMLh— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 26, 2016
Oh, and this:
Joy Reid lost her show. Karen Finney had a short stint. Now MHP? Meanwhile, prodigal son Brian Williams is back in the fold. #nerdland— Keith White (@keethers) February 26, 2016
This move away from people of color on @MSNBC feels like anti-BLM sentiment coming down from the Comcast execs. cc Phil Griffin— Keith White (@keethers) February 26, 2016
UPDATE III –
Image via Twitter