Last week, Talia Jane, a low-level Yelp worker, wrote a whining online “open letter” to Yelp’s CEO that became an instant classic in the category of “How not to treat one’s employer.” Yesterday, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry sent an e-mail to her colleagues at MSNBC announcing that she was refusing to appear on her show this weekend because her show had been virtually taken away from her and that she felt “worthless” in the eyes of NBC News executives. You can read the whole thing here, but here are the juicy parts:
” [A] s of this morning, I do not have any intention of hosting this weekend. Because this is a decision that affects all of you, I wanted to take a moment to explain my reasoning…
Here is the reality: our show was taken — without comment or discussion or notice — in the midst of an election season. 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.
The purpose of this decision seems to be to provide cover for MSNBC, not to provide voice for MHP Show. I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back. I have wept more tears than I can count and I find this deeply painful, but I don’t want back on air at any cost. I am only willing to return when that return happens under certain terms.
…I have a PhD in political science and have taught American voting and elections at some of the nation’s top universities for nearly two decades, yet I have been deemed less worthy to weigh in than relative novices and certified liars. I have hosted a weekly program on this network for four years and contributed to election coverage on this network for nearly eight years, but no one on the third floor has even returned an email, called me, or initiated or responded to any communication of any kind from me for nearly a month. It is profoundly hurtful to realize that I work for people who find my considerable expertise and editorial judgment valueless to the coverage they are creating.
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…”
As with Talia, this screed has apparently cost Harris-Perry her job. Good. If you haven’t watched her all-race-baiting-all-the-time show, the program she is so proud of is an extreme leftist, anti-male, anti-white, anti-Capitalism ego-fest that has been notable as the most extreme of all MSNBC’s Angry Left programming and for various cringe-worthy moments like the host wearing tampons as earrings and leading a panel in making fun of Mitt Romney’s black grand-child. The show had a small audience even by MSNBC standards.
Harris-Perry’s show had been pre-empted in the past two weeks because debates and primaries were somehow deemed more important to the alleged news station than having a pompous black academic of dubious qualifications hold forth on why the united States is unbearably racist. It’s funny, every year Homer Simpson is pre-empted for a month or more while Fox covers the baseball play-offs, and I don’t recall him quitting because he was being treated as if he and his family were “worthless.”
Here are the reasons why Harris-Perry stunt was even worse than Talia Jane’s:
1. Talia Jane had an excuse: she’s young, inexperienced, and has a lot to learn. Melissa Harris-Perry is not young, has been working a long time, and presumed to teach the young. She is supposed to know better than to do this. As Joe Concha wrote at Mediaite,
Instead of privately and personally airing her grievances to MSNBC management — you know, like anyone over age 17 would in any work environment — MHP instead sent an email to her colleagues regarding her decision, which predictably ended up going public (in this case, via the New York Times). The take-a-deep-breath-and-count-to-ten-before-you-really-do-this rule was, as you’ll see, completely ignored…
2. Unfortunately, while Jane may have some misguided sympathizers, Harris-Parry, as a teacher and public figure, has real influence. Every single person who is persuaded that this is any way to act in the workplace has been harmed. Talia’s unethical conduct won’t create more Talia Janes, but Harris-Perry’s might.
3. Like Jane, Harris-Perry accepts no responsibility for her own plight (she has a crummy show that almost nobody watches), but unlike Jane, she is black, so she can blame everything on race. That’s her MO anyway, but her “I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC” epitomizes the reflex use of racism to explain every adverse career event, consequence and failure that so many African American figures have pounded into the brains of black Americans as an all-purpose Get Out Of Accountability Free dodge with disastrous results to race relations and black advancement. Harris-Perry’s equally awful colleague on the network, Ed Schultz, was canned outright a while back, but since he’s fat, red-haired and as white-skinned as they come, he couldn’t cry racism.
4. Others have pointed out the hypocrisy of Harris-Perry now equating her situation with slavery, when not long ago she reprimanded a Republican guest who used the term “hard-working” to describe Paul Ryan, as the host said that slaves worked hard, and privileged people didn’t know what hard work was. Harris-Perry annual salary was reported to be over a million dollars a year in 2014, not all of it from MSNBC.
5. Jane embarrassed the company that hired her as a near minimum wage employee, which is still rank ingratitude. Harris-Perry turned on her employer for paying her a fortune to host a mediocre TV show, and continuing to pay her while her show was being shelved. It has been speculated that MSNBC was going to keep paying her rather than risk the inevitable racial bias lawsuit that would result from dumping Harris-Perry the way they dumped Schultz. Never mind: MSNBC is the ungrateful one in her fantasy. They paid an awkward, radical fringe professor to host a show that few watched, paying her excessively well, and rather than ride out a time of change like good employees do, or leave with dignity, thanks and a handshake as true professionals do, Melissa Harris-Perry played the race card, called her colleagues “novices and certified liars,” and publicly attacked her bosses.
I’d hire Talia Jane any day before I’d employ this arrogant, nasty, deluded woman.