Joy Reid Pushes Back Against Brewing Blog Controversy

Joy Reid, whose MSNBC presence has expanded in recent years amid a well-received weekend program on the network, is pressing back against new allegations that she penned a cache of newly discovered blog posts that carry homophobic remarks.

The blog posts, discovered by a Twitter user with the handle @Jamie_Maz, show Reid taking offense at the idea of gay marriage, but the MSNBC host says in a statement that they are fabricated. “The manipulated material seems to be part of an effort to taint my character with false information by distorting a blog that ended a decade ago,” she says. Reid once authored a blog called “The Reid Report,” a politically-oriented outlet, at about the same time she also contributed to the Miami Herald and worked for The Grio, an online-news outlet aimed at an African-American audience.

The allegations against her surface at a fraught time for many partisan TV hosts. At Fox News, both Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham have come under new scrutiny in recent months, with activists prodding advertisers to boycott the latter’s 10 p.m. program on the 21st Century Fox-owned network. The allegations against Reid are hard to take with a grain of salt, because she has acknowledged writing blog posts that contained similar sentiments in the past. In December, she apologized for posts with homophobic comments that were acknowledged to be real.

MSNBC has grappled with similar issues in the recent past. In 2013, it suspended an interview show hosted by actor Alec Baldwin for two weeks, in part because the celebrity had been heard to use an anti-gay slur during a confrontation with a news photographer. Baldwin apologized for the language, but the show never returned to the air. Baldwin and MSNBC decided to part ways.

MSNBC has not made a public comment about the growing imbroglio,but it has sent statements from a cybersecurity expert and an attorney working for Reid in this matter. “Five months ago, we found evidence Joy Reid’s now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, was breached after a review of suspicious activity,” says Jonathan Nichols, the cybersecurity expert, in a statement. “We discovered that login information used to access the blog was available on the Dark Web and that fraudulent entries – featuring offensive statements – were entered with suspicious formatting and time stamps. The posts included hate speech targeting marginalized communities and Ms. Reid has been explicit in condemning them. Some of the posts in question were made while Ms. Reid was on the radio hosting her show. Text and visual styling was inconsistent with her original entries.”

A letter from the Reid attorney, John H. Reichman, says the anchor has been working since December to get what she believes are fraudulent entries removed from the Internet Archive, a San Francisco non-profit that provides free access to collections of digitized materials. The attorney demanded then that the organization take down Reid’s old blog because of concerns it had been compromised.

Yet executives at the Internet Archive, whose materials can be found in a digital trove called the Wayback Machine, said in a Tuesday post that they felt Reid’s representatives had not yet made the case for the material’s removal. “When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions. At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities,” says Chris Butler, an office manager at the Internet Archive,

Reid’s presence at MSNBC has grown. In addition to hosting a weekend program, “A.M. Joy,” she frequently fills in for the network’s weekday primetime anchors – Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell. She attended Harvard University as an aspiring documentary filmmaker, but has since found new success moderating a show that examines issues of the day through a progressive lens. She is also one of the few anchors of color on MSNBC’s programming lineup.

But she has maintained her program is for people trying to make sense of the news, not those trying to use facts to solidify already-conceived positions. And she notes conservative viewers tune in to see her. “We do have some conservatives who watch the show,” she told Variety in April.  “Some hate-watch. Some watch it on purpose. We have a lot of Republicans who are on the show, part of them are Never Trumpers and neocon Never Trumpers. In an ideal world, people would take the opposite position and work from a common fact base and draw their own conclusions.”

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