In 2012, people were excited about a new voice coming to cable TV – Melissa Harris-Perry. The MHP intrigue lies in the fact that she’s more than a personality. She wasn’t groomed for TV, but for academia teaching at top Universities like Princeton,University of Chicago, Tulane and most recently, Wake Forest.A tenured professor, and African-American host, she was a rarity on T.V. Originally just a trusted fill-in for the The Rachel Maddow Show, she was eventually given her own MSNBC show to much excitement.
Harris-Perry was profiled in the New York Times and written about in other major publications like Reuters, NPR and the Washington Post.
This was in 2012.
Surprisingly enough, her show was one of the highest rated shows between the 18-35 age market for her time slot – Saturday and Sunday mornings from 10-12am. MHP prided herself on the variety of voices she represented, from ‘black trans women to latino republicans’. There was (and is) a lack of diversity on air and she brought it.
While she isn’t as big of Anderson Cooper or Rachel Maddow, she’s makes headlines. Here she is going off in defense of poor people and here covering the transgender population. MHP wasn’t my favorite, but she is good, very good. While sometimes over enthusiastic, she’s smart and when it comes to politics, she knows what she’s talking about. MSNBC at one time, agreed.
It’s three months into 2016, and MHP is no longer on MSNBC.
So what happened?
A lot happened, but the catalyst of the situation was an internal e-mail sent to the #nerdland team. Harris-Perry accused the network of ignoring her requests to meet and basically forcing her hand. A short summary of a complex situation, one of the more memorable lines is –
“I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC.”
The drama didn’t die down from there, executives responded by saying that there was no intention of cancelling her show, but she left them little choice. Since her departure, and most recently, she went on The View to talk about her dramatic MSNBC departure. In MHP style, she compares MSNBC to a boyfriend, a lukewarm boyfriend at that.
With diversity on the fritz, and MHP off-air, I wonder what this means for correspondents and specifically what MHP will do next.