Melissa Harris-Perry is still understandably upset over her sudden departure from MSNBC. Melissa feels that she was exited from the show rather abruptly and in a completely unsatisfying manner.
“We deserved a proper burial,” Harris-Perry told the New York Times by phone. “We didn’t deserve to be disappeared. It was evil, and it was cruel. And it had racial implications.”
Melissa Harris-Perry dedicated time on her MSNBC show to discuss Beyoncé’s latest music video for “Formation,” and her producers would only allow her to discuss the topic for 15 minutes. Harris-Perry was hoping she could devote the entire show to the video and how it has been received. MSNBC executives simply wanted Melissa to focus on presidential politics for that day, and this eventually resulted in Harris-Perry being fired, after building a brand and an audience for four years on MSNBC. She was robbed of her editorial control over her show, as she noted in a letter to the rest of her staff.
Melissa Harris-Perry was able to focus her show on dealing with content that discussed race in America and diversity, and she fears that the network will not continue to deliver that same kind of content without her there.
Yvette Miley, a senior vice president for MSNBC, assured that the network would “continue to find distinct and diverse voices.”
But Ms. Harris-Perry had plenty of defenders online, and a number of her fans were showing support and taking her side in all of this. Plenty of people felt that she was discussing relevant topics that were and are normally ignored.
A real loss. @MHarrisPerry show will be missed. She brought to television voices/perspectives too often unheard/ignored. Truth was her guide— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) February 29, 2016
“If they’re judging us through the lens of the departure of Melissa Harris-Perry, we know we have the perception versus reality to manage,” Miley said. “But we’re going to meet the challenge to still provide meaningful programming that touches people.”
Congressman Luis Gutierrez defended the work of Melissa Harris-Perry, noting that MSNBC is not doing a great job in terms of diverse voices on its network. He mentions anchorman José Díaz-Balart being short-shrifted as well as Alex Wagner. “Journalists of color bring a different texture,” he stated.
Even Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards stated that Melissa Harris-Perry “included such important issues and voices” on her MSNBC show, and that she “seriously hope she will be back.”
“They wanted me to sign a non-disparagement clause, and we had a deep disagreement over what constituted the non-disparagement clause,” Harris-Perry told CNNMoney on Tuesday. “They wanted me not to speak about MSNBC. I said no.”
Melissa refused to go on air, and soon after, she was let go. Melissa Harris-Perry was a clear result of the Obama-era of MSNBC, which represented a diverse voice that wasn’t afraid to lean to the left, but could also be a bit polarizing at the same time. Melissa’s show overall ranked third in its time slots directly behind Fox News and CNN, much like the network did in general. The network in recent years has taken a step away from its more left-leaning voice and has instead tried to go for a more politically neutral tone in its daily reporting.
Anchors like Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid have been demoted to correspondent roles, and Rev. Al Sharpton lost his primetime spot and was instead moved over to Sunday mornings. But at the same time, anchors who have been with the show for years like Rachel Maddow and Brian Williams have had their roles expanded, as well as the co-anchors of Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough. It would not be too surprising if MSNBC took a bigger turn away from diversity in the future.
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