Former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry shed light on some of the hard feelings that contributed to her breakup with the network.
Harris-Perry told BuzzFeed in a podcast on Monday that there came a time when she realized MSNBC “truly did not care about me,” according to The Huffington Post.
Harris-Perry, who is a full-time professor at Wake Forest University, recalled a trip to Iowa with her students in February for a school-sponsored election year program called “Wake the Vote.” A man who recognized Harris-Perry from the show threatened her in a hotel lobby, making references to Nazi Germany.
“I don’t know if he was there to kill me,” she said.
After reporting the incident, she said Wake Forest provided increased security for her and the students on the next trip, but MSNBC declined to do likewise, the Post reports.
She added that the network had no legal obligation to provide security, but at least a moral responsibility.
She made this comment to BuzzFeed:
“The reason somebody wanted to harm me, the reason that people send hate mail to me, the reason I don’t read my Twitter @ replies for four years is because I work for MSNBC. The reason my kid puts up with stuff at school, the reason my husband deals with hate — that actually is because of y’all. I’m just asking for one day could I be able to tell the parents of my [students] that I know for certain we’ll be behind [MSNBC’s] security perimeter, because I’ve worked here for four years, and their response was ‘no.’”
Harris-Perry added in the interview that the network’s “contempt” for her was not racial. She believes MSNBC “simply did not care,” and that was “extremely painful and hard to take.”
MSNBC told the Huffington Post that Harris-Perry’s allegations are “not true,” declining to say anything more on the matter.
It was situations like the dispute over security that contributed to the split. The relationship reached a boiling point in February, when Harris-Perry refused to host her self-titled show because the network pre-empted it for the previous two consecutive weekends.
She published an email that stated:
“I will not be used as a tool for their purposes. I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head.”
That email infuriated the network. Shortly after, MSNBC terminated her program, explaining it pre-empted her shows to broadcast special primary election news.
But Harris-Perry’s husband, James Perry, told CNNBusiness that these actions followed a pattern in which MSNBC “disappeared” other shows on the network hosted by people of color.