Melissa Harris-Perry Will Not Return to MSNBC

Melissa Harris-Perry
Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry’s eponymous show will not be returning to MSNBC’s airwaves, CNN Money reported today. 

The staunch LGBT ally, whose weekend show regularly highlighted voices of marginalized people, confirmed to CNNMoney’s Brian Stelter that her representatives are currently negotiating an exit deal with the cable news network. “The goal of the negotiation at this point is to determine the terms of severance, not reconciliation,” Harris-Perry said in a Sunday statement to Stelter. 

An MSNBC spokesperson confirmed to CNNMoney that the news channel is “parting ways” with Harris-Perry. 

On Sunday morning, Harris-Perry tweeted out a photo bidding farewell to “Nerdland,” a nickname for her show that frequently explored the intersections of identity, politics, and culture in an unabashedly progressive way.

The development is not unexpected, after Harris-Perry on Friday refused to participate in her weekend show, calling out MSNBC for repeated preemptions of her show for broad election coverage and “the dramatic change in editorial tone and racial composition of MSNBC’s on-air coverage.”  

“After four years of building an audience, developing a brand, and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced,” Harris-Perry wrote in the email to staffers. “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.”

She was willing to return only on her own terms, she said in the message. “I will not be used as a tool for [MSNBC management’s] purposes,” she wrote. “I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC.”

Jamil Smith, a former staffer of Harris-Perry’s show who first publicly shared the host’s scathing email to staff about how she had been mistreated and ignored by MSNBC executives, mourned the loss of the show and the diversity it consistently brought to the cable news.

Harris-Perry, a Wake Forest University professor, has hosted her MSNBC show since 2012, after several appearances as a correspondent on out MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow's nightly program. Harris-Perry's show has often dealt with LGBT issues and featured LGBT guests, many of them people of color. It was the venue for transgender woman CeCe McDonald’s first appearance after her release from a men’s prison where she was incarcerated for second-degree manslaughter, in a case she says was self-defense.

Others appearing on the show have included successful trans businesswoman Angelica Ross, trans actress Laverne Cox, bisexual Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, and gay Washington Post  columnist Jonathan Capehart. Trans writer Janet Mock has also guest-hosted for Harris-Perry on several occasions.