Melissa Harris-Perry said she was refusing to go on the MSNBC show she hosts this Saturday, following several weeks of pre-emptions and what she described as a loss of editorial control.
In an email sent to people she works with this week, which was obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Harris-Perry said that her show had effectively been taken away from her and that she felt “worthless” in the eyes of NBC News executives.
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” she wrote. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”
In a phone interview, Ms. Harris-Perry confirmed she would not appear on the show this weekend. She 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. (She was asked to return this weekend.)
In her email, Ms. Harris-Perry wrote that she was not sure if the NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, or Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president, were involved in the way her show was handled recently, but she directed blame toward both.
“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” she wrote. “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.”
Ms. Harris-Perry is black, and Mr. Lack and Mr. Griffin are white. In the phone interview on Friday, Ms. Harris-Perry clarified her remarks and said she did not think race played a role in her recent absence from the air.
“I don’t know if there is a personal racial component,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person.”
An NBC News spokesman said in 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.”
I'm going to say that given the way MSNBC has gone down an ugly path since scrapping basically Everyone Who Wasn't Maddow Or Hayes in the name of political expediency with their new corporate masters at Comcast, that I think MSNBC deliberately provoked a response from Harris-Perry and boy, did they ever get one.
I'm not sure what's going to happen to the show now, but I have to admit that like Maddow, I haven't watched it in months, if not a year or two, other than the occasional clip. I really don't have any interest in watching soft-pedaled both-sider nonsense on other news channels, so why would I go looking for it actively on MSNBC?
I do wish her luck, however. Seeing how badly the network treated Joy-Ann Reid was bad enough. But you know what makes me think MSNBC just tried to get her fired by pre-empting her show until she got fed up and left?
MSNBC hiring Rick Tyler, Ted Cruz's recently fired spokesman. You know, the one Cruz fired this week for telling lies that even Ted Cruz was ashamed of.