John briefly covered the story of Melissa Harris-Perry’s possible exit from MSNBC a couple of days ago when it first broke and at the time I thought it sounded a little strange. It turns out I was wrong. This one leaves “strange” in the rear view mirror and quickly heads off into the bizarre.
As you’ll recall, Harris-Perry essentially went on strike, refusing to show up for her own show yesterday after perceived slights by the network. These took the form of preempting her Saturday morning gig for ongoing election coverage and asking her to talk about the primary races rather than her normal fare, which mostly focused on SJW issues in general and Black Lives Matter in particular. Thought she tried to walk it back later, her initial complaint contained far more than subtle indications that she felt there were racial reasons for the preemptions and directions to talk about politics.
She was also carping about the perception that even her weekend gig was about to be cancelled. At least according to network sources, that assertion was actually incorrect, but has now pretty much become a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Washington Post)
MSNBC executives said they were surprised by Harris-Perry’s blast on Friday and that it may have stemmed from her perception — incorrect at the time, but now virtually inevitable due to her actions — that her weekend program was about to be canceled. “She’s a brilliant, intelligent but challenging and unpredictable personality,” one executive said. “There was no plan to cancel her.”
He added, “It’s highly unlikely she will continue” at MSNBC. Her email “is destructive to our relationship.”
This executive disputed Harris-Perry’s assertion that MSNBC executives had not communicated with her, although he said Harris-Perry has never met Andrew Lack, the NBC News chairman who was rehired by the network last year after the controversy over Williams. The decision to preempt Harris-Perry’s program for election-news coverage over the past several months was made by MSNBC’s president, Phil Griffin.
The comments from the soon to be former weekend host veer away from a simply employment dispute to the realm of the deranged. MSNBC has been shaking up their lineup in an election year to try to present more “hard news” during the day and on weekends while voting is going on. Almost all of the banners on their advertising brand the network as “The Place for Politics.” What was Harris-Perry expecting? When her show is scheduled for the same day and time that the polls are opening in a critical early primary state, does she expect the Network to allow her to run a two hour exploration of the latest police shooting? In some cases they will go to a live team on the ground where the voting is taking place and in others, if she’s on the air, they’re going to want her to talk about it. If they don’t cover it, political junkies will be switching over to CNN or Fox.
She might have also wanted to keep an eye on the ratings. Not only was she tanking, along with the evening lineup of opinion shows, but the actual news coverage ratings for MSNBC were on the rise as those shows were replaced.
MSNBC’s pivot to more news reporting, especially campaign coverage, has lately resulted in improved ratings. So far this year, its weekday ratings among all viewers have grown 57 percent over the same period in 2015, compared with a 38 percent gain for CNN and 20 percent for Fox News, the cable-news leader, according to MSNBC. Among viewers aged 25 to 54, a key bloc for advertisers, MSNBC is up 76 percent, compared with 25 percent for CNN and 19 percent for Fox.
The network is a business and they measure their success in ratings, which translate to ad revenue. MHP’s side of the operation has been sinking while election coverage has been on the rise. This isn’t a case of racism because the main color anyone is concerned with here is green. The color of money. If Harris-Perry can’t grasp that much then there was probably very little to be discussed in the first place.