- The Washington Times - Friday, February 26, 2016

MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry said she’s refusing to go on her own show this weekend following several weeks of pre-emptions for coverage of the presidential election.

In an email to colleagues this week, Ms. Harris-Perry accused the network of taking her show away from her “without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” The New York Times reported.

“After four years of building an audience, developing a brand and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced,” she reportedly wrote.

In a phone interview, Ms. Harris-Perry told The Times that she would not appear on her program, which she was asked to return to this weekend, over frustrations that her time slot had faced pre-emptions for coverage of the presidential election.

“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” she wrote in her email. “I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head.”

Ms. Harris-Perry, who is black, declared that she “not owned by” NBC News chairman, Andrew Lack, or Phil Griffin, the MSNBC president, who are both white, the Times reported.

She later clarified her remarks to The Times, saying she did not think race played a role in her recent absence from the air.

“I don’t know if there is a personal racial component,” she said. “I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person.”

“It is perfectly fine, 100 percent reasonable and perfectly acceptable for MSNBC to decide they no longer want the M.H.P. show,” she said. “But they should say that, they should cancel the show, they should stand up. And maybe it would be rewarded with huge ratings, but they shouldn’t kill us by attrition and take us off the air without telling anybody, including us. That for me is what’s painful and difficult.”

An NBC News spokesman said in a statement, “In this exciting and unpredictable presidential primary season, many of our daytime programs have been temporarily upended by breaking political coverage, including M.H.P. This reaction is really surprising, confusing and disappointing,” The Times reported.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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