Washington Gadfly

Shocker: Melissa Harris-Perry Paid Off Tax Debt

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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Former MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry has quietly settled her $70,302 federal tax lien that attracted massive media attention last year, turning the spotlight on her fellow stars’ own outstanding debts.

Perry last April told Winston-Salem Journal reporter Michael Hewlett that she and her husband were repaying the money and had already put down $21,272. And unlike Al Sharpton’s similar comments about his own mammoth tax bill — swallowed whole by ace media reporter Dylan Byers-she was actually telling the truth!

Hewlett disclosed Wednesday that Harris-Perry and her husband settled the remaining debt on October 13, 2015.

The Perrys ponied up even though their liability was a one day story. How refreshing that two public figures — James Perry heads the Winston-Salem Urban League — actually did the right thing without any public pressure.

Melissa Harris-Perry did not even tweet about it!

Alas, MSNBC host Al Sharpton still owes nearly $600,000 in personal taxes to New York state that Byers, peddling MSNBC spin as objective fact, reported that he was incrementally paying back. Actually, the judgments have been gathering dust since first issued in 2008 and 2009.

Of course, MSNBC national correspondent Joy-Ann Reid still owes New York some $5,000 in taxes. Toure Neblett, another former MSNBC host, settled his $46,000 debt about three months after Byers said he was in the process of paying it down. But there is no evidence indication online he was making partial payments in April 2015 as Byers suggested.

He did not pay off a separate $12,849.87 tax warrant until this March.

So, basically, Byers batted one for four. That is a really poor average for a baseball hitter and even worse for a journalist.

Especially when he decided to take Al Sharpton, of all people, at his word. Who else is Byers giving the benefit of the doubt these days?

And, what’s up with Sharpton and Reid anyway? Do they think high taxes are just, with apologies to Rudyard Kipling, the white man’s burden?

Clearly, MSNBC, despite its incessant coverage of the rich supposedly not paying their fair share of taxes, is not pressuring them to settle the debts. Management is not always so diffident.

In 2008, when Page Six, following up on my ambush interview of then-host Keith Olberman, reported he owed a minuscule $2,269.50, the suits apparently acted differently.

Olbermann paid back the money just two months later — either in a sudden burst of integrity or, more likely, under pressure from Griffin.

So why did he give the other “talent” a free pass?

What is the differential factor here?


Evan Gahr