MSNBC cut ties this weekend with host Melissa Harris-Perry, one of the very few women of color hosting a national cable news show.
Harris-Perry, who is also a professor at Wake Forest University, had a devoted following. Her fans discussed her show on Twitter with the hashtag #nerdland. They praised the show's thoughtful take on the news and its unusually diverse lineup of guests. Erik Wemple of the Washington Post called Harris-Perry a "rare voice of substance on cable news."
Harris-Perry had been fairly quiet after the release of her letter blasting MSNBC brass for repeatedly preempting her show. That appears to be because she was in negotiations with MSNBC — negotiations that ended at 5 pm on Tuesday with Harris-Perry refusing to sign a nondisclosure agreement. That left her "free" and ready to break her silence on Twitter:
As for me... I am just waiting to be free... tick tock...tick tock... is it 5 o'clock yet?— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) March 1, 2016
5pm. Pushing back from pointless "negotiations" like ... pic.twitter.com/bqa6l3uzXD— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) March 1, 2016
One of the unintended consequences of salary inequity-- harder to get us to take one of those non-disclosure payoffs huh? #freedomovermoney— Melissa Harris-Perry (@MHarrisPerry) March 1, 2016
In her leaked email, Harris-Perry said the network was marginalizing her show during election season and taking away her "editorial control and authority" — and undermining racial diversity in its efforts to boost ratings.
"Social media has noted the dramatic change in editorial tone and racial composition of MSNBC’s on-air coverage," Harris-Perry wrote, later followed by: "I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head."
MSNBC's brass wasn't pleased with that email, calling it "destructive to our relationship." Executives said that MSNBC's relationship with Harris-Perry was "highly unlikely to continue."
On Twitter on Tuesday, Harris-Perry took aim at MSNBC executives for calling her a "challenging, unpredictable personality":
Harris-Perry had clarified that she didn't think anyone was "doing something mean to me because I’m a black person." But it's clear that she thinks MSNBC's new editorial direction is going to hurt its racial diversity — and that of cable news as a whole:
Then she signed off with a bang: