Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC Show Is Canceled
Melissa Harris-Perry’s show will not be returning
In the fictional world Gabrielle Union’s character Mary Jane Paul hosts a show called “Talk Back” where she discusses issues that are diverse and would otherwise go unheard if it were not for her show. In the real world Melissa Harris-Perry does the same thing, with her popular hashtag #nerdland we have grown to look forward to Melissa as she tells stories that make us all think and question the world around us. Melissa recently disappeared from her own show and no formal reason was made public, eventually an email surfaced explaining why Melissa was not on her own show. Melissa recently released a public statement to her fans and #nerdland staff discussing the real reason for her absence and why she would not be returning.
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.
After Melissa made her very public statement there were no talks of MSNBC staff sitting at the table with Melissa to discuss how they could help the situation. Nope, none of that, some may say how she went about the entire situation was unprofessional but after hearing her side we all know better. Melissa goes on to state her frustrations that with all her education she is always overlooked,
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.
So what does this mean for Black people? Who will tell our stories in mainstream media? How can our voices be heard if there is always someone trying to silence us? This may seem like some news fight but the reality of the situation is that this is our fight. The popularity of the show should have been enough, but it wasn’t, some may say that the elections were of greater importance and Melissa was raging against the machine throwing a temper tantrum. And if that is the case then why not let her cover the elections? I do believe that Melissa will come out on top but the one sided view of the media and the lack of diversity in news coverage should leave us all concerned.