Melissa Harris-Perry is refusing to appear this weekend on the MSNBC show she hosts, according to The New York Times. In a letter to colleagues, Harris-Perry cited frustrations that show had been repeatedly pre-empted by election coverage of "relative novices and certified liars" in recent weeks.
“Here is the reality: Our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” she wrote in the letter. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.”
Harris-Perry's show has aired on MSNBC since 2012 and has regularly explored issues of race and diversity. "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," Harris-Perry wrote.
“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 love our show. I want it back."
Harris later downplayed any racial interpretation of her letter in a follow-up interview with The New York Times, saying, “I don’t know if there is a personal racial component. I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person.”
In a statement to Mediaite, MSNBC called Harris-Perry's decision "surprising, confusing and disappointing."