Melissa Harris-Perry and MSNBC’s Blatant Censorship
I have to admit there are only two shows I consistently watch and/or record on MSNBC, MHP and The Rachael Maddow Show. I have also been a critic of MSNBC for years because their on air programming for years was 80% editorial and only 20% news. With the exception of Morning Joe, the coverage was leaned hard left. I am a fan of news more so than opinions, some might even say addicted to the news but I want to hear both sides of the story, not just liberal opinions of it. I’ve always said that MSNBC is the liberal version of Fox News minus the lies.
Every Saturday morning I look forward to watching MHP, I also record it every weekend in case I don’t get a chance to watch it live. It is the only show on cable or regular network channels that addresses issues that effect Black community. Dr, Harris manages to do so with out being biased and by always including panels containing differing views. I cannot put into words how much I value Dr. Harris and her show. She consistently challenges me and makes me thirsty to learn more. She has introduced to me books, music and countless things that I otherwise wouldn’t have heard about with out watching her show. I truly believe that her show is invaluable and should be required viewing by people of all races.
I, like many others kept wondering what happened to her show and why she was not reporting on the political news coverage that preempted her show considering her background in political science. In addition, until this week, MSNBC falsely advertised her show on both Saturday and Sunday in the hopes that we would tune in and watch anyway. Each week when I realized that her show had been preempted, I either turned the TV off or switched channels. I can get better election news coverage on CNN plus as I stated before, I never liked the channel anyway.
This morning I was a little late getting it together so I missed what I thought was the beginning of her show so I searched my recorded program list and found nothing. Her show wasn’t recorded because MSNBC has removed it from their lineup. I immediately began searching the internet to find out what happened to the show. I found a letter posted by one of Dr. Harris’s former producers which was posted at her request. I read the letter and started crying before I got to the end of it. I will never watch MSNBC again. What they did to Dr. Harris, make that how they handled the removal of her show is horrible beyond words and I hope MSNBC’s already low ratings finally bottom out. Below please find Dr. Harris’s letter and thanks to Medium and her former producer, Jamil Smith for sharing it.
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, DylanByers 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.
Undoubtedly, television nurtures the egos of those of us who find ourselves in front of bright lights and big cameras. I am sure ego is informing my own pain in this moment, but there is a level of professional decency, respect, and communication that has been denied this show for years. And the utter insulting absurdity of the past few weeks exceeds anything I can countenance.
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. I care only about substantive, meaningful, and autonomous work. When we can do that, I will return — not a moment earlier. I am deeply sorry for the ways that this decision makes life harder for all of you. You mean more to me than you can imagine.