As one may have surmised by the email heard round the (black) world Friday, MSNBC will sever ties with Melissa Harris-Perry, effectively canceling her show, according to a Washington Post report and confirmed by Richard Prince’s Journal-isms this weekend.
Harris-Perry sent out the scathing email to her staff last week, and it was made public by a former producer on Friday. In it, MHP explained why she refused to go on the air this weekend, saying that she would not be a “token, mammy or brown bobble head” for the network, which has pre-empted her show for two weekends in a row.
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken—without comment or discussion or notice—in the midst of an election season,” Harris-Perry wrote in the internal email. “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,” Harris-Perry continued. She also wrote that she is “not owned” by NBC and MSNBC executives.
The Post reports that an anonymous executive at the network deemed the email “destructive” and that “it’s highly unlikely Harris-Perry will continue” at MSNBC.
Harris-Perry appears to have been swept up in a strategic transformation of the network, one that many say is taking the left-leaning network more centrist and has seen the demise of some programs with hosts of color, including The Reid Report, hosted by Joy-Ann Reid, last year, and the move of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s once-daily show to weekends.
As it lags in ratings behind Fox and CNN, MSNBC’s strategy has apparently been to emphasize breaking-news coverage during daytime hours while maintaining a slate of liberal hosts such as Rachel Maddow during prime-time hours at night.
Because of the emphasis of the election cycle, some see the Harris-Perry’s pre-emption as typical, but others see the move as more insidious, and a way to “silence” unique, unabashedly liberal voices like Harris-Perry’s without outright canceling the show and facing possible backlash.
“It is perfectly fine, 100 percent reasonable and perfectly acceptable for MSNBC to decide they no longer want the MHP show,” she said to the New York Times. “But they should say that, they should cancel the show, they should stand up. … That, for me, is what’s painful and difficult.”
Though Harris-Perry has not publicly commented since the Times comments (save a few tweets supporting Reid and Tamron Hall, who have been on the air in her show’s place this weekend), reports have surfaced that the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Wake Forest professor concerned Beyoncé’s video, “Formation.”