Author, educator and news anchor Melissa Harris-Perry is refusing to go on her MSNBC show, which she hosts on Saturdays. Harris-Perry said she will not return after the network has been bumping her traditional programming to cover the on-going presidential campaign.
In an e-mail obtained by The New York Times, Harris-Perry said that she felt her show had been taken away from her and she felt “worthless” in the eyes of the NBC News executives.
She continued: “ Here is the reality: Our show was taken— without comment or discussion or notice- in the midst of election season. 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. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin (NBC News chairman and MSNBC president) or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”
Later, in a phone interview, Harris-Perry told The Times, that she didn’t know if there was a racial component to the way she was being treated.
“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 that same interview Harris-Perry said she’d received no word as to whether or not her show would be canceled and she was frustrated that her time slot was subject to pre-emptions. Though she was asked to return this weekend, she said she would not appear.
A spokesman for NBC News said, “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.”
During this election season, MSNBC has taken a hit in ratings, falling behind Fox News and CNN. Since Lack joined the network as chairman last year, he has started to steer the network away from its liberal brand and move it toward harder news.
Harris-Perry said not being able to talk to her viewers has felt like a betrayal.
“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.”