“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” Harris-Perry wrote in an email obtained by the Times.
"I am not a token, mammy or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by [NBC News chairman Andrew] Lack, [MSNBC President Phil] Griffin or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.”
Harris-Perry resents the show’s pre-emption over the last two weeks and MSNBC dictating how it presents content, the report said.
“It is perfectly fine, 100 percent reasonable and perfectly acceptable for MSNBC to decide they no longer want the M.H.P. show,” said Harris-Perry, who has hosted the show since 2012. "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.”
Harris-Perry added that she does not see believe racial bias is motivating MSNBC’s decision-making.
“I don’t know if there’s a racial component,” she told the Times. "I don’t think anyone is doing something mean to me because I’m a black person.”
Jamil Smith, a reporter for MTV News, posted to Medium an email that Harris-Perry wrote explaining her reasoning.
“Here is the reality: our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season,” she wrote. “After four years of building an audience, developing a brand, and developing trust with our viewers, we were effectively and utterly silenced.
“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 added.
“While MSNBC may believe that I am worthless, I know better. I know who I am. I know why MHP Show is unique and valuable. I will not sell short myself or this show. I am not hungry for empty airtime. I care only about substantive, meaningful, and autonomous work. When we can do that, I will return — not a moment earlier.”
NBC News downplayed Harris-Perry’s remarks Friday, arguing that presidential election coverage is essential content.
“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.,” a network spokesman said in a statement. "This reaction is really surprising, confusing and disappointing.”
Brian Stelter, senior media correspondent for MSNBC’s rival CNN, decried Harris-Perry’s circumstances on Twitter late Friday afternoon.
What disturbed me, as a longtime TV news observer, was how it seemed like MSNBC was trying to "disappear" her. @MHarrisPerry deserves better— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 26, 2016
Harper Neidig contributed.
- Updated at 5:09 p.m.