Has MSNBC cancelled the Melissa Harris-Perry TV show, or is the host pulling the plug on her weekend talk show? Right now, it looks like a little bit of both. The network keeps preempting the program for live election coverage. Now, Perry has refused to read news for MSNBC during these preemptions and is speaking out to her staff on Medium, via friend and former show producer, Jamil Smith, an MTV News Senior National Correspondent.
Usually, the possible cancellation of a news or talk show would not rate at TV Series Finale, because what we are after here is closure — some sort of resolution for the viewing audience. That is not typically an issue where news or talk shows are concerned. It is one, though, in this case. One of the reasons Harris-Perry is speaking out, is because she understands her crew and fans of the show, who style themselves “#nerdland” on social media, deserve to know the fate of the Melissa Harris-Perry show (MHP) on MSNBC.
Some news reports are framing this as if Harris-Perry has “walked off” her own show. The situation is a bit more nuanced. MHP is regularly scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00am to 12:00pm ET. The show has not run in a couple of weeks. Apparently MHP was added back on the schedule for this weekend, but according to Harris-Perry, in her letter published by Smith on Medium, she was not going to be doing her show, but rather reading news.
Viewers know that is not how the MHP show works. MHP is often a deep dive into the issues of the day. While it focuses on politics, it does so through the lenses of diversity, feminism, and more broadly racial, social, and economic justice, with a dash of humor, a pinch of spirituality, and a sprinkling of Beyoncé. A Wake Forest University professor with a PhD in political science, Harris-Perry hosts unique panels. Her show is not overrun with the rotating usual suspects typically seen on cable news gab fests. MHP regularly features academics and other oft unheard voices.
Harris-Perry does not hold back in her missive. Read the whole letter at Medium. Here are some key excerpts:
Some unknown decision-maker, presumably Andy Lack or Phil Griffin, has added my name to this spreadsheet, but nothing has changed in the posture of the MSNBC leadership team toward me or toward our show. Putting me on air seems to be a decision being made solely to save face because there is a growing chorus of questions from our viewers about my notable absence from MSNBC coverage. Social media has noted the dramatic change in editorial tone and racial composition of MSNBC’s on-air coverage. In addition, Dylan Byers of CNN has made repeated inquiries with MSNBC’s leadership and with me about the show and what appears to be its cancellation. I have not responded to reporters or social media inquiries. However, I am not willing to appear on air in order to quell concerns about the disappearance of our show and our voice.
I have stayed in the same hotels where MSNBC has been broadcasting in Iowa, in New Hampshire, and in South Carolina, yet I have been shut out from coverage. I have a PhD in political science and have taught American voting and elections at some of the nation’s top universities for nearly two decades, yet I have been deemed less worthy to weigh in than relative novices and certified liars. 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. It is profoundly hurtful to realize that I work for people who find my considerable expertise and editorial judgment valueless to the coverage they are creating.
While MSNBC may believe that I am worthless, I know better. 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.
Although there is no press release visible on parent-company NBC-Universal’s press site, The New York Times published the following:
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.”
Should MSNBC cancel or renew the Melissa Harris-Perry show? Are you a fan? Has Harris-Perry set the bridge afire, or did the network light the match? What do you think? Let us know, below.