The front page of Monday’s Business Day featured New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter’s oh-so-respectful profile of MSNBC’s newest left-wing host, Melissa Harris-Perry (she also teaches at Tulane University, which impresses Stelter and the Times enormously): “At MSNBC, A Professor As TV Host.”
Harris-Perry is not just another MSNBC host but will soon become, in Stelter’s phrase, “the only tenured professor in the United States -- and one of a very small number of African-American women -- who serves as a cable news host.” Stelter even found time to suck up to another liberal host, Rachel Maddow, “a Rhodes scholar...lauded for her long, carefully argued essays.” Stelter also insisted cable TV now contains "pockets of intellectual stimulation that did not exist a decade ago." Which all just happen to reside on the liberal network MSNBC.
Stelter has a history of hiding the radicalism of leftists while bashing conservatives, as in his sympathetic treatment of leftist academic Frances Fox Piven and excoriation of Piven critic Glenn Beck.
The only hint Stelter provides of Harris-Perry’s leftism is the news that she will host a “progressive talk show,” that just happens to be called “Melissa Harris-Perry.” Stelter painted her arrival as a hopeful sign that “there are now pockets of intellectual stimulation that did not exist a decade ago.” In other words, the leftist faculty lounge has migrated to MSNBC.
Week seven of Melissa Harris-Perry’s introductory course in African-American studies at Tulane University includes a lecture about “the hollow prize” -- a theory that African-Americans tend to be elected as mayor only after a city has tipped into economic decline.
One day last summer, when Ms. Harris-Perry was filling in for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, she recast the class lecture as a television segment, invoking Detroit; her adopted home, New Orleans; President Obama; and tax policy.
“I’ve given that lecture a million times -- a million times,” Ms. Harris-Perry said in a recent interview. “But I do it once on Rachel’s show, and it was everywhere the next day. It was up on Web sites, people were e-mailing me -- that, for me, was a really clear indication of how powerful television is.”
Now, MSNBC is about to introduce a progressive talk show called “Melissa Harris-Perry” on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Ms. Harris-Perry will be the only tenured professor in the United States -- and one of a very small number of African-American women -- who serves as a cable news host.
Is this a sign of the rise of the academic on TV? Though cable news is still stereotyped by some as a 24-7 screaming match, there are now pockets of intellectual stimulation that did not exist a decade ago.
The significance of cable news is growing. A survey released last week by the Pew Research Center found that cable news channels have, for the first time, eclipsed local television newscasts as a regular source of campaign news for the American people.
Stelter even threw in some praise for liberal host Rachel Maddow:
At MSNBC, “Morning Joe” with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski has become must-see television for politicians and journalists, while Ms. Maddow, a Rhodes scholar, has been lauded for her long, carefully argued essays. Recently, the channel has added several shows with similarities to those two, including “Now With Alex Wagner” at noon on weekdays and “Up w/ Chris Hayes” on the weekends. Ms. Harris-Perry’s show is set to start on Saturday morning and run from 10 to noon.
Stelter documented Harris-Perry’s history of TV appearances on left-wing shows without labeling them such:
Ms. Harris-Perry herself has had little trouble getting booked on TV throughout the years, first on the Chicago station WGN while teaching at the University of Chicago and later on CNN, “Democracy Now” and “Bill Moyers Journal” while teaching at Princeton.
Some of what Stelter left out of his profile: Newsbuster Jack Coleman wrote on a pre-Thanksgiving appearance by Harris-Perry on Al Sharpton’s radio show in which she called the Pilgrims “illegal immigrants” and members of the “1 percent” (a la Occupy) versus the “99 percent” Native Americans. Ken Shepherd greeted the January announcement of Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show with quotes proving her to be “a reliable liberal pundit, offering up such gems as arguing that it's immoral for government to lay off bureaucrats."