Wednesday, December 8, 2021

MSNBC Diversity Cutbacks Raise Concern

Melissa HarrisPerry*MSNBC’s noticeable shrinkage of minority on-air personalities is raising a flag of concern among followers of the network.

Although the National Association of Black Journalists raised concern after the headline-generated exit of weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry, MSNBC touted its efforts to increase diversity on Thursday while defending the cutbacks, the Associated Press reports.

According to the channel, its transition to more coverage of breaking news has resulted in people of all ethnicities seeing their roles reduced or eliminated.

In the eyes of the NABJ, Harris-Perry’s exit was “truly unfortunate.”

For Harris-Perry, the action marks a serious bump in her relationship with MSNBC. Weighing in on her departure, the Wake Forest University professor, who is black, voiced how proud she was of bringing new voices to television on her weekend MSNBC shows. Yet the fact that Harris-Perry’s show was pre-empted for several weeks in favor of weekend political coverage has caused her to question her future at the network.

Harris-Perry’s show was among a string of MSNBC shows that have bit the dust in with the cutback. In the past year, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s “PoliticsNation,” which aired daily, was eliminated as well as Joy Reid’s “The Reid Report,” Alex Wagner’s “Now with Alex Wagner” and Toures ensemble show, “The Cycle,” with Krystal Ball, Ari Melber and Abby Huntsman.

Since the cancellations, Sharpton has been relegated to hosting “PoliticsNations” on Sundays while Reid serves as an MSNBC contributor. Although political coverage caused Jose Diaz-Balart’s show “MSNBC Live” to be off the air for a bit, the weekday morning show returned on Thursday.

Realizing the impact of MSNBC’s cutbacks, NABJ vice president for broadcast Dorothy Tucker, a Chicago television reporter, stated her hope that the news channel had room for more black journalists as analysts, on-air experts and hosts.

In addition to Tucker, the issue struck a nerve with Illinois congressman Luis Gutierrez, who referenced it recently in a House speech.

“Forgive me or not noticing just how much progress NBC was making on diversity when some of the most visible people of color at MSNBC — like Alex Wagner, Melissa Harris-Perry and Jose Diaz-Balart — are disappearing,” he said. “Journalists of color bring a different texture, a different perspective on what issues matter and what should be debated and discussed on television.”



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