Report: Melissa Harris-Perry is out at MSNBC
As noted earlier, MSBNC talk show host Melissa Harris-Perry seemingly committed television career suicide recently by writing an angry email to co-workers about her show not going on due to election coverage — an absolutely stunning inability to understand how big stories can pre-empt regular shows. Her email — defended by many liberal fans of her show — came across as someone who was something of a primma dona and she decided not to show up to her show in protest.
These kinds of battles with network executives don’t usually end happily for on-the-air talent. Just ask the Smothers Brothers and others who’ve gone head to head with The Powers That Be. And often (like the Smothers Brothers) time an history will vindicate them and in other cases history simply records it as someone unwisely ending their own career with a company.
I noted in my earlier post that given MSNBC’s unhappy reaction her email suggesting her bosses were racists, she was likely to part company with the folks that gave her a great broadcast. Corporations don’t usually keep people who publicly disss them or accuse them of racism.
On Sunday morning, two days after the host’s private fight with management went public, an MSNBC spokesman confirmed that the channel is “parting ways” with her.
Earlier in the morning, Harris-Perry posted a photo on Twitter and said “Farewell #Nerdland,” a nickname for her weekend show, “Melissa Harris-Perry.”
“Inviting diverse new voices to table was a privilege,” she tweeted. “Grateful for years of support and criticism.”
Harris-Perry confirmed to CNNMoney that her representatives are in talks with MSNBC about an exit deal.
Harris-Perry had felt for months like MSNBC was trying to squeeze her off the air and take away her editorial point of view.
On Friday, she spoke out about the treatment, saying she had been “silenced” by MSNBC and placed in a form of cable news purgatory, having been pre-empted for two weekends in a row.
“Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” she wrote in a letter to staff that was shared with her fans.
MSNBC and its rivals are all trying to squeeze higher ratings out of the chaotic primary season. The channel pre-empted her for campaign coverage with a “Place for Politics” title.
The same thing has happened to other shows, too, MSNBC said in a statement responding to her letter on Friday. The channel called her reaction “surprising, confusing and disappointing.”
But Harris-Perry said the February pre-emptions were merely the most visible manifestation of the channel’s marginalization of her show.
In the letter, she said “no one on the third floor,” where MSNBC’s executives work at 30 Rockefeller Center, “has even returned an email, called me, or initiated or responded to any communication of any kind from me for nearly a month.”
She also pointedly noted a “dramatic change” in the “editorial tone and racial composition of MSNBC’s on-air coverage.”
Harris-Perry’s MSNBC contract expires in October.
Could CNN hire her? I suspect they’d balk or set down some very strong preconditions — like walking off her own show would be grounds for firing.