Melissa Harris-Perry, an important contributor to MSNBC for four years with her show by the same name “Melissa Harris-Perry,” will not appear on her MSNBC show Saturday because she said she feels editorial control was taken from her. She is refusing to host her show this Saturday due to weeks of pre-emptions that she says has left her “silenced.”
In an email to her staff that was posted on Medium, Harris-Perry said she felt “worthless” in the eyes of NBC News executives after consecutive weeks in which her show was replaced by general news programming.
Harris-Perry released a statement to her staff, explaining her reasoning for refusing to appear on the show. Harris-Perry claimed that political “breaking news” has continually pushed her show off of MSNBC’s schedule during the political season, without any discussion about whether her show was to stay or go. Harris-Perry’s viewership became increasingly confused and concerned when her show went M.I.A..
Here is some of the letter that Harris-Perry sent to her staffers, showing her brave defiance of the controlling and ever right-turning politics of her network:
“Here is the reality: our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season. After four years of building an audience, developing a brand, and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced. Now, MSNBC would like me to appear for four inconsequential hours to read news that they deem relevant without returning to our team any of the editorial control and authority that makes MHP Show distinctive.”
“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”
“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.”
Harris-Perry told the New York Times that she wasn’t bitter that MSNBC didn’t want her show, but was outraged that she was shut out of any communication or decision-making with executive.
“It is perfectly fine, 100 percent reasonable and perfectly acceptable for MSNBC to decide they no longer want the M.H.P. show,” she said. “But they should say that, they should cancel the show, they should stand up. And maybe it would be rewarded with huge ratings, but they shouldn’t kill us by attrition and take us off the air without telling anybody, including us. That for me is what’s painful and difficult.”
BW salutes Melissa Harris-Perry for standing her ground. This is an incredible turning point for her as she escapes the struggling and staggering network with dignity and on her own terms.