Melissa Harris-Perry may be too progressive for the new MSNBC.
The anchor, who has hosted a weekend program on the NBCUniversal-owned cable-news outlet since 2012, said she will not host her show this weekend in what appears to be a significant difference of opinion regarding her role at the network, which has in recent months focused more intently on breaking-news coverage and politics.
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” Harris-Perry wrote in a note that was reported previously by the New York Times, then posted on Medium. “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.”
Since last year MSNBC has steadily reoriented its daytime programming, canceling shows led by Ed Schultz, Ronan Farrow and Joy Reid that examined the issues of the day through a progressive lens. A late-afternoon program hosted by the Reverend Al Sharpton was canceled and turned into a Sunday-morning show. As the nation’s focus on the Presidential election has intensified, so too has MSNBC’s coverage of it during prime time.
In her note, the anchor disagreed with what the new direction had done to her program, as well as a spate of preemptions of the show spurred by political coverage. “I love our show. I want it back,” she said, but only with its original themes.
The network expressed displeasure at her decision — and her speaking out about it. “In this exciting and unpredictable presidential primary season, many of our daytime programs have been temporarily upended by breaking political coverage, including MHP,” MSNBC said in a statement. “This reaction is really surprising, confusing and disappointing.”
One prominent MSNBC anchor could be disappointed in the development. Harris-Perry has been a regular substitute for Rachel Maddow, the linchpin of the network’s primetime lineup. Harris-Perry has in the past credited appearances on the Maddow program as a chief factor in helping her get contributor and anchor roles at MSNBC.
Joy Reid is expected to host MSNBC coverage this weekend during Harris-Perry’s slot, anchoring from South Carolina for a look at the Democratic primary.