Thursday, March 3, 2016
Melissa Harris -Perry Allows Her Ego To Betray Her Common Sense
By now most MSNBC viewers know that Melissa Harris -Perry is no longer with the network and her weekend morning show is gone. Since 2012 this self-titled show "had a small but loyal audience averaging 400,000 viewers" according to a Feb. 29 WSJ piece by Joe Flint ("MSNBC - Host Part Ways After Pre-Emptions'). This referred to her pique on learning her opinion show (from 10 a.m.- 12 noon ET on Saturday, Sunday) would be pre-empted in parts for the Dem SC primary.
According to the WSJ report, Harris-Perry blew a gasket and asserted in an email she wasn't going to tolerate appearing "for four inconsequential hours" - when she could, of course, be opinionating on this, that and the other. She instead demanded the network "return editorial control and authority that makes MHP distinctive".
Adding for effect in her staff email (ibid.) that she "would not be used as a 'tool for their purpose' nor would she be 'a token mammy or little brown bobblehead"
Seriously? A "little brown bobblehead"? You are, or were, one of the few black women to have her own show and now want to piss that away out of some misplaced pique at election coverage pre-emption of your precious show? Really?
I admit I watched Harris-Perry on occasion and she sometimes hit the right notes at the right time, as in the case of the Baltimore cops beating up on Freddie Gray and also the bogus voter ID laws in many states, used to set up roadblocks to many black voters (especially older ones who may lack the credentials, i.e. birth certificates, to establish a basis for a state ID. A fact many of the voter fraud boneheads don't get)
On the downside, Melissa - like other media blacks (Joy Reid, Michael Eric Dyson) - often carried water for Obama and the Neoliberal state. This frequently caused mixed feelings in many African-Americans who on the one hand found the defense of Neoliberalism offensive (especially to justify SNAP cuts in the Obama-promoted "sequester" program) but on the other hand found it comforting to see a popular black commentator on the tube.
As one blogger (Margaret Kimberly) on smirkingchimp.com put it:
"Like Obama, Harris-Perry marketed herself as a progressive but spoke against the interests of black people in order to keep the rulers from feeling uncomfortable. While doing a story on the closing of public schools in major cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia she and her guests debated the role of race in this policy. They did so without ever mentioning the elephant in the room. The very goal of the Obama administration Race to the Top initiative demanded that public schools be closed and replaced by charters. The woman who now says that she isn’t a “token” was very happy to be one if doing so would relieve the president of any blame."
Harris-Perry also aroused my ire and that of many 4th amendment defenders (who are as avid in our own way as 2nd amendment defenders) when she came down on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. I was especially enraged after "MHP" - adopting the indignant pose of a Neoliberal security state fetishist - insisted that Snowden should turn himself in and face a long prison sentence. It was at that point I realized she was no liberal but rather another Neolib mouthpiece shilling for the elites and their hacks.
At the same time, unlike her denying and trashing Snowden's rights (such as not to have to face a rigged, kangaroo court) I allowed that Melissa had the right to bloviate on her show. I applauded that a well-educated, university prof African -American had such a stage as few do - especially to editorialize on events.
Alas, MHP took one step too far and the network took her up on her desire to instantly vacate - making it mutually acceptable- as in saying 'Hasta la vista!'
Margaret Kimberly in her article noted that MHP was likely hired in the first place because of attracting viewers during the reign of the first black President. But she added that given this is Obama's last year in office, "the pressure to keep token black supporters on as talking heads has dropped." Thus, if they erupt like MHP did - at having election coverage preemptions (which MSNBC said have occurred with all its various shows) - then they can expect quick exits. At least MSNBC host Al Sharpton understands which side his media bread is buttered on and is not going to make the same rash move as Harris-Perry.
Harris-Perry ought to have exercised more forbearance and caution and not yielded to her elitist sense of entitlement as a black prof. . She'd have fared better by not being so demanding about her official air time, or its supposedly inviolate content, realizing that shows like hers were rare in the corporate media firmament. Thus, preserving her voice and show ought to have trumped her irritations at election interruptions.
But Melissa H-P evidently let her ego and sense of entitlement get the better of her, as the campaign season heated up and more and more interruptions (especially after primaries) occurred.