Ever since 2012, Melissa Harris-Perry has been a staple of MSNBC’s weekend programming. But due to a recent shift in MSNBC’s objectives, Harris-Perry walked away from her program after being made to feel “worthless” by the studio.
Harris-Perry sent an email out to coworkers and colleagues last week explaining that she’d be stepping away from the show after feeling that MSNBC has taken control away from both her and her team. During an election season, Harris-Perry has noticeably absent from her usual slot on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon. So much so that viewers began to ask the studio if the show had quietly been cancelled.
“Here is the reality: our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” Harris-Perry wrote. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand, and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”
Harris-Perry claims she was just as in the dark as anyone else in the emailed statement. After making multiple attempts to contact MSNBC executives, namely NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, and Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president, she heard nothing.
“It is perfectly fine, 100 percent reasonable and perfectly acceptable for MSNBC to decide they no longer want the M.H.P. show,” Harris-Perry told the New York Times. “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.”
While MSNBC scheduled Harris-Perry to return to her usual slot this weekend, she declined the offer and chose to walk away until a product that closer resembles what she would like for the show to be could become a possibility.
“While MSNBC may believe that I am worthless, I know better,” she said. “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.”
Ending the conversation, on Sunday, Feb. 28, MSNBC officially severed its ties to Melissa Harris-Perry. According to The New York Times, an MSNBC executive confirmed that the two would be “parting ways.”
To confirm what appeared to be the end of Harris-Perry’s program, she posted a tweet thanking viewers for years of both support and criticism.
— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) February 28, 2016
There’s a general consensus building that MSNBC is looking to shift its editorial tone to compete with CNN and FOX News, who both lead the network in ratings.
“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,”said an NBC News spokesman in a statement, according to the New York Times. “This reaction is really surprising, confusing and disappointing.”
Melissa Harris-Perry is currently a professor at Wake Forest University and has used her show for four years to consistently provide a platform for underrepresented voices in mainstream media. Her departure was highly public and shows a changing of the tides for MSNBC, a network that was once viewed to be progressively slanted to counteract the right-winged FOX News.
The Melissa Harris-Perry Show was considered to be a dependable source for concerns of the black community and many others to be put on the forefront. With that show officially off the air, it appears that MSNBC may not place as much value on that perspective and there will be a wait to see who can step in an provide that much needed voice in the future.
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