Melissa Harris Perry is heading out the door at MSNBC, but it’s not for anything ridiculous she said on the air.
On Super Bowl Sunday, MSNBC wanted Perry to devote the entire show to covering presidential politics, while Perry wanted to devote airtime to covering the release of Beyonce’s song “Formation” (which happened the day prior). After a battle with the executives at MSNBC, she was granted the freedom to cover that as she wished, but hasn’t hosted since then.
Melissa Harris-Perry announced by email this week that she was refusing to go on her weekend show on MSNBC. The New York Times confirmed her decision not to appear this weekend and published excerpts from the letter she sent out saying she felt she had been “utterly silenced” by the top brass at MSNBC.
“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.”
Gawker published longer excerpts from the email. In one section Harris-Perry raises the possibility she was only invited on the air this weekend, after weeks of being preempted by other election news, so the network could dodge questions from CNN’s Dylan Byers about what was happening with her show:
“The purpose of this decision seems to be to provide cover for MSNBC, not to provide voice for [Melissa Harris-Perry]. 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 [Andy] Lack, [Phil] Griffin, or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”
Another quote published by Gawker suggests she had good reason for feeling she was being shut out at MSNBC:
“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.”
Remember that Perry is the woman who’s worn tampon earnings on air, mocked Mitt Romney’s family for adopting a black child, compared NBA owners to slave owners and lectured her panel on racism in “Star Wars.” Something tells me MSNBC has been looking for any excuse to replace Perry for a long time.
[Note: This post was authored by The Analytical Economist]