After she was placed back on the MSNBC schedule for the South Carolina Democratic primary after weeks of being off of the air and months of behind the scenes trouble, Melissa Harris-Perry took a stand and told MSNBC that she would not be their token or mammy by hosting her show this weekend.
As you know by now, my name appears on the weekend schedule for MSNBC programming from South Carolina this Saturday and Sunday. I appreciate that many of you responded to this development with relief and enthusiasm. To know that you have missed working with me even a fraction of how much I’ve missed working with all of you is deeply moving. However, as of this morning, I do not have any intention of hosting this weekend. Because this is a decision that affects all of you, I wanted to take a moment to explain my reasoning.
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.
Here is the reality: our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season. After four years of building an audience, developing a brand, and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced. Now, MSNBC would like me to appear for four inconsequential hours to read news that they deem relevant without returning to our team any of the editorial control and authority that makes MHP Show distinctive.
The purpose of this decision seems to be to provide cover for MSNBC, not to provide voice for MHP Show. 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 Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back. I have wept more tears than I can count and I find this deeply painful, but I don’t want back on air at any cost. I am only willing to return when that return happens under certain terms.
MSNBC has frozen Harris-Perry out of their election coverage while giving airtime to Brian Williams, and various Republicans. MSNBC has also become the Trump network thanks to Joe Scarborough. Harris-Perry also claimed in her email that no one in MSNBC management has returned her phone calls, emails, or initiated any communication with her in more than a month.
It is obvious why MSNBC chose this weekend to put Harris-Perry back on the schedule. Two-thirds of South Carolina Democratic primary voters are African-American. After endless sucking up to Donald Trump, MSNBC decided that Harris-Perry would be allowed some airtime when a majority African-American electorate is voting.
Joy Reid will be doing Harris-Perry’s show this weekend, but MSNBC is all in on Trump. They are chasing the ratings, and in Donald Trump’s view of the media landscape, there is no room for diversity or a strong and intelligent voice like that belonging to Melissa Harris-Perry.
MSNBC management has shown no loyalty to their employees and their viewers. Perhaps, it is time for viewers to give the network a taste of their own medicine.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association