MSNBC host and Wake Forest professor Melissa Harris-Perry came out against her employer in a scathing staff-wide memo after the network repeatedly replaced her weeked morning show, Melissa-Harris Perry, with presidential campaign coverage—effectively leaving her without an outlet at the channel. In the memo, which was first reported by John Koblin of The New York Times and later published by a former staffer on Medium, Harris-Perry declared her refusal to host campaign coverage this weekend as a way of protesting MSNBC’s decision to leave her show hanging in limbo:
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.
After speculating that MSNBC scheduled her for Saturday’s programming in order to stave off media inquiries about her missing show, Harris-Perry calls out Andy Lack, the chairman of NBC News, and Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, for using her as a P.R. prop:
The purpose of this decision seems to be to provide cover for MSNBC, not to provide voice for [Melissa Harris-Perry]. 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 [Andy] Lack, [Phil] 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.
Later on, she adds, “The utter insulting absurdity of the past few weeks exceeds anything I can countenance,” and describes being shut out by MSNBC’s management: “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.”
Harris-Perry’s email was apparently prompted by CNN media reporter Dylan Byers’ recent attempts to figure out what was going on with Harris-Perry’s show. In response to the memo, an NBC spokesperson told Byers, “In this exciting and unpredictable presidential primary season, many of our daytime programs have been temporarily upended by breaking political coverage, including M.H.P. This reaction is really surprising, confusing and disappointing.” The network provided an identical statement to Gawker.
Besides the absence of her show (and the memo quoted above), the evidence of Harris-Perry’s strained relationship with MSNBC has been apparent in at least one other way. According to the service BioIsChanged.com, Harris-Perry removed “Host of @MHPShow”—her MSNBC show’s official Twitter handle—from her Twitter biography sometime in the past week.