Harris-Perry Throws Away TV Career, Petulantly Plays Race Card From Bottom of the Deck


Melissa Harris PerryAs reported here and elsewhere, Melissa Harris-Perry has walked off her own MSNBC program.

She should just keep on walking…

Said walk-off comes in protest around her weekend program being pre-empted a whole two weekends in a row as the network — like basically everyone else — has gone all-in on election coverage. This decision by MSNBC management was obviously far too much for the fragile ego of Ms. Harris-Perry to handle, so she decided it was a really good idea to commit TV career suicide instead.

And that’s what we’re all witnessing right now: A complete meltdown by someone who really should know better than to go down that one-way road to public access. It truly is a shame to see, because as Harris-Perry is about to learn, she really carved out quite the perfect career: Presidential Chair Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Wake Forest, columnist for The Nation and host of a two-hour national cable news show two days a week. For those scoring at home, that’s the baseball equivalent of 3-for-3.

But instead of privately and personally airing her grievances to MSNBC management — you know, like anyone over age 17 would in any work environment — MHP instead sent an email to her colleagues regarding her decision, which predictably ended up going public (in this case, via the New York Times). The take-a-deep-breath-and-count-to-ten-before-you-really-do-this rule was, as you’ll see, completely ignored:

“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” she wrote. “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.”

Get it? The pre-emptions are all about race. And by the way, not sure where the whole “token” part is coming from considering the number of African-American talent currently on the MSNBC payroll. So here’s the deal around MHP’s gripe: Her network has been pre-empting many programs over the past few weeks, including pretty much all of Dayside on weekdays. No matter, Harris-Perry seems to have no problem playing the race card here from the bottom of the deck… because that’s all she seems to know.

“This reaction is surprising, confusing and disappointing,” says a network spokesperson, adding that Joy Reid — who had her weekday program cancelled last year but was kept by the network to perform other duties, will anchor in Harris-Perry’s spot instead.

Here’s another cold fact: She is — at best — marginally talented for someone who performs on a national level. Even after four years on the job, her delivery, screen presence and interviewing style is decidedly awkward. Her judgment and analysis… oftentimes laughable. Want proof? Look no further than Harris-Perry scolding a guest for using the term “hard worker” as it pertained to House Speaker Paul Ryan last year. Why is “hard worker” so offensive? Because it pertains to slavery, of course:

HARRIS-PERRY: “I want us to be super careful when we use the language ‘hard worker.’ Because I actually keep an image of folks working in cotton fields on my office wall, because it is a reminder about what hard work looks like. In the context of relative privilege, I just want to point out, that when you talk about work-life balance and being a hard worker, the moms who don’t have health care who are working, we don’t call them hard workers. We call them failures, people who are sucking off the system.”

WTF? That. Was. Really. Said. On. A. National. Cable. News. Network. Need more? You can also read all about her greatest hits here and here, which include allowing a panel on her show to ridicule the Romney family for having the audacity to adopt an African-American baby (side note: her mother is white, her father is black). And then there was that time she decided to wear a pair of tampons as earrings to make a point about abortion law… or something.

In the end, know this: Harris-Perry is lucky to even be employed by the network — any network — at this point. The show finished fourth in the demo (out of four cable news networks) in January. And based on this very public reaction, it seems to me that she’s also unhinged at worst and blatantly dishonest at best. Here’s what she told the New York Times in an interview today after the aforementioned email to her colleagues — the one that basically characterized her bosses as slave owners — got out:

“I don’t know if there is a personal racial component,” adding, “I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person.”

If you’re MSNBC, there’s really nothing left to say… except to thank her for her time at the network and to wish her well in her future endeavors.

Today we witnessed a public meltdown of a television host who had a damn good thing going: Teaching, writing, and four hours of national cable news time per week to discuss the issues — racial, political — that matter most to her. The TV part likely goes away now. This is a bell that can’t be un-rung.

Mark it down: February 26, 2016…

The day Melissa Harris-Perry decided to permanently throw away her television career for no good reason.

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UPDATE – 02/28/16: Exclusive: MSNBC to Issue Statement Officially Severing Ties with Melissa Harris-Perry Today. Click here to read today’s breaking news on Harris-Perry

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Follow Joe Concha on Twitter @JoeConchaTV

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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