Drifting Away from MSNBC as Programs Lose Diverse Voices

When we first brought cable into our home about a decade ago, we immediately began watching ‘The Rachel Maddow Show’ with religious fervor. Representative lesbian in media? Yes!

Rachel introduced us to other programming, including the eye-opening representative weekend programming helmed by many people of color. Most notable was Melissa Harris-Perry morning slots on Saturday and Sunday. When Harris-Perry left MSNBC, Joy Ann Reid took her slot and ricocheted into the coveted weekdays 7-8 PM show.

We followed Joy, changing our viewing habits to watch local news from 5:00-6:30, national news on NBC at 6:30, and then flipping to MSNBC at 7 PM. Every night.

Meanwhile in the weekend slots, MSNBC made a bold choice to create two shows – Saturdays hosted by Tiffany Cross and Sundays with Jonathan Capehart. I really appreciated both programs.

Why? All of these shows offered me many unique perspectives into issues and resources that just weren’t invited into the mainstream white run media. I became a better-informed person because of this programming. And it was interesting, well-produced, sometimes heart-wrenching and sometimes joyful. There were great semi-regular segments, frequent guests whom I felt like I was building a relationship with in a healthy media/social media way. The hosts were accessible – I could tweet at them or their producers who often responded.

In 2016, I wrote a few posts about the importance of listening to Black voices.

invest our time in listening and really hearing what black American have to say.  Not injecting ourselves and our feelings as white Americans into the equation.

I felt privileged to be welcomed into a BIPOC driven take on the world, led by solid journalists with years of experience working their way up in the industry. These weren’t quirky shows, they were solid news programming that gave us a real (and rare) opportunity to listen to Black voices, and Latinx and AAPI and Indigenous voices and so many other voices.

One change is that watching Joy at 7 PM nightly led us away from Rachel at 9 PM, but Rachel was winding down her five-day week schedule anyway so in many ways passing the baton to Joy’s slot was a natural evolution of revolutionary media – remember when Rachel Maddow, an out lesbian, helming the biggest time slot was absolutely mind-blowing?

But there was something special, even sacred, about my morning routines – wake-up, feed the cats, make the coffee, fire up Twitter, and slide onto the sofa by 10 AM on both days. My wife occasionally joined me, rarely interrupted me, and our own family conversations around news of the day was greatly enhanced by this programming.

MSNBC became the default station in our home. When a designated program was delayed (by golf!) or wrapped up, we flipped to MSNBC as background. Most of the time, we ended up drawn in and meeting new hosts, new guests, and new perspectives.

________________________________________________________________________________________ >
For 18+ years, snowflakes, social justice warriors, and the politically correct have built this blog. Help us keep this content free and accessible with a recurring or one-time donation.

GoFundMe ** Venmo ** Paypal ** CashApp ** Patreon
Each donation creates a digital snowflake vis a vis Steel City Snowflakes _______________________________________________________________________________________________

Then everything changed when MSNBC fired Tiffany Cross, replacing her first with rotating guest hosts and eventually retooling weekend mornings to a new schedule – Ali Velshi helming the Sat and Sun 10-12 slots, Jonathan Capehart’s two-hour segment split into an hour each on Saturday and Sunday, adding Katie Phang into the 8-9 AM slot and – most disappointing of all – giving the 12-1 PM Sunday slot to Jen Psaki.

Ali Velshi is a great host and journalist. He’s bright, articulate, engaging, and brave. He represents a unique perspective as a Muslim-Canadian of Indian descent whose family lived in South Africa and Kenya. He brings all of that to his show and it is generally fantastic.

But he uses a more traditional news segment format, not so much the rotating array of guest panelists. So the segment just sort of blends into the general news format I can find at MSNBC any other time of the week.

I don’t love any of the one hour show very much, they don’t allow enough time to get meaty and don’t allow for the robust panel discussions. So cutting back on the only Black helmed Sunday news program by dividing Jonathan Capehart’s segment into two one-hour shows was dismaying and a blow to representation.

But most importantly, firing a Black woman and creating room for a cishet white woman, Jen Psaki, is just reprehensible. I get that Psaki is well-connected and a good journalist. But it is not okay to me that we have no Black women in any of these hours previously dominated by Harris-Perry and Reid. It is objectionable on moral and ethical grounds, but it is also just a lackluster move. It is balderdash!

The decision to fire Tiffany Cross warrants its own post, but I was outraged. So I stopped watching on Saturday mornings and just stuck with The Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart. The dearth of Black women anchoring news programming is deplorable. And I feel it, this white cisgender lesbian feels that absence of Cross and her guests, the diminishing of Jonathan Capehart’s voice, and the pivot from panel discussions to straight news programming.

MSNBC diminished itself and I eventually just stopped watching entirely. We slid back to watching local news until 7 PM and then the CBS national news until 7:30 PM. Then we no longer flipped to MSNBC. We turned off the tv and did other things.

While that was more of a gradual slide based on lack of engagement, it became an entirely new routine, one that had a negative impact on me. I felt less informed, less aware, and less invested. While I still followed the amazing guests on Twitter and in their main platforms, Twitter’s own changes were destroying that dynamic as well.

Coupled with our decision to cancel our subscription to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to support the striking workers and the erratic delivery of our Sunday New York Times (plus, the expense!), I realized I had inadvertenly become much more limited in my scope of news sources.

Today, I suggested to my wife that we make a concerted effort to watch Velshi on the weekends and The Reid Out on weekday evenings. She agreed. So that’s the plan and Velshi is on right now while I type.

But … MSNBC is still diminished in my perspective. Frankly, I want my weekend shows back and I want the station to elevate Black women’s voices. Maybe I’m being unfair to Jen Psaki, but I don’t think she should have agreed to this at all. She certainly had a vast array of options in her position of power and influence. Not that she could prevent MSNBC from just adding another cishet white woman, but she could be more of someone who walks the walk. Right?

Let me be clear – MSNBC does have Black women hosting shows, most notably Reid and Symone Sanders. But Sanders is from the White House, too. And honestly, I don’t typically watch tv on weekend afternoons or early evenings unless, I’m waiting for the local news.

Media is shrinking and that’s a serious problem. Living in a city with a months long strike that eliminates the daily paper as an option for news is plain awful. The limited local news programming on our public radio station is disheartening. The holding company for that daily paper recently purchased our remaining alt-weekly.

I hope our experiment will jolt us out of the stupor and back into being engaged media consumers. I should add the caveat that my wife objects to being lumped into the category of “stupor” because she reads vast amounts of online news sources every single day. Fair enough.

So at the same time as I’m trying to reconnect with MSNBC, I’m going to also dedicate myself to diving deeply into BIPOC journalists and outlets. That’s on me. I clearly cannot rely on MSNBC or any corporate owned media outlet to deliver representative, informed media.

Maybe you’ll notice a change in my social media sharing in the coming weeks, maybe not. Stay tuned …


We need your help to save the blog.

For 18+ years,  snowflakes, social justice warriors, and the politically correct have built this blog.

Follow us on Twitter @Pghlesbian24 and Instagram @Pghlesbian

We need your ongoing support to maintain this archive and continue the work. Please consider becoming a patron of this blog with a recurring monthly donation or make a one-time donation.       This post and/or others may contain affiliate links. Your purchase through these links support our work. You are under no obligation to make a purchase.