I’m not a regular viewer of the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC which airs in the mornings, on the weekends (in part because I “cut the cord” a while ago, and most of my TV watching is done on-demand, via services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon), so I had no idea that there has been trouble brewing over at the network, regarding the future of her show. I also wasn’t aware that she hasn’t appeared on her MSNBC show at all “for weeks,” she tells the New York Times today, because she was effectively “sidelined” for presidential election coverage (most recently in South Carolina and New Hampshire).
She also will not be hosting her show this weekend, even though she’s scheduled to do so.
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken, without comment or discussion or notice, in the midst of an election season,” Harris-Perry said in an email she sent to her co-workers this week, which was obtained by the New York Times. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”
And thus, she isn’t entirely certain of her popular show’s future, adding that she feels “betrayed” by MSNBC executives: “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.”
Lack refers to NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack; and Griffin is Phil Griffin, MSNBC president.
She then seems to wonder if racism may be a factor in the apparently continuous pre-empting of her show: “I don’t know if there is a personal racial component… I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person.”
In their defense, 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.”
Thus, clearly frustrated also because of what she describes as a lack of editorial control over her own show, Harris-Perry will not be hosting her show this weekend, she has said; although she was expected to. She is still under contract with NBC however, although she states that she was told that the pre-empting of her show would likely continue for the “foreseeable future.”
So, in summary, she seems to feel that there might be more to all of this than she’s been led to believe, and that the fate of her show may be uncertain as of today. And in response, NBC News insists that she’s essentially reading more into their actions beyond the obvious, as laid out in the quote above from an NBC News spokesperson.
I should note that, over the last year or so, MSNBC has done some housecleaning and shuffling of its lineup, so maybe her concern for what all this pre-empting, and apparently a lack of communication, might mean for her show, is warranted.
Read the full New York Times report here.