Business, In Memorium

Melissa Harris Perry leaves MSNBC

MHP from New York Times


It was unfortunate, but inevitable. Melissa Harris Perry the very talented, come from nowhere professor who spoke of civil rights and liberal justice has parted ways with the network that found her.

It all began on Friday when Harris, who had been absent from her show for weeks, complained she had effectively been cancelled, and oddly published a screed to that effect in an email to staffers according to the Times.

“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.”

Now, under the banner what I fear I create, MSNBC has cancelled MHP Show.  She joins an unfortunate list of liberal sounding reporters that has been apart of the network but has slowly dwindled away beginning in the surprise on air cancellation of Countdown with Keith Olbermann some 7 years ago.

As I have written, the network has worked overtime to rebrand itself amid sagging ratings.  It cancelled a number of shows including The Ed Show and Politics Nation with Al Sharpton and brought back veteran Brian Williams.

It has focused on “breaking news” and “hard” news  to make it more like NBC (I wonder if NBC is trying to be more like MSNBC).  It even graphically began to match rival CNN, most notable with a news scroll that runs through out the entire day including prime time.

All this has yet to translate to ratings magic.  It is important to note CNN under Jeff Zucker did a similar bloodletting of sorts getting rid of old faces and bringing back new.  But this was all done at one time, not slowly over months.  And the improving ratings were almost immediate.

My thoughts?  MHP show had a good run.  Melissa was an excellent talent.  Its unfortunate it got so nasty, for it to end.


UPDATE 2:50pm:  Brian Steltzer on Reliable Sources puts things into context when he (basically) reports MSNBC had been under pressure to explain why all programming by minorities appeared to be sidelined while others had not (#MSNBCSOWHITE).  Melissa coming back without resuming her creative control could be seen by her as a token move (hence the charged language in the email to staffers).

Also it is worth noting — during election season CNN has continued regular programming throughout (I assume Fox News as well).

CNN may have a new correspondent soon.

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