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MSNBC’s Joy Reid, Noting Hacking Claims Remain Unproven, Apologizes For Offensive Posts

Joy Ann Reid portrait
Patrick James Miller for Variety

MSNBC anchor Joy Reid used her appearance Saturday on the network to tell people she was not lying, but was unable to prove the truth.

Reid has been under a microscope in recent days owing to a new set of allegations that she penned a cache of old blog posts carrying homophobic remarks. The anchor has grappled with the problem since late last year and apologized previously, but found herself this week fending off a new discovery of items that she claimed were not hers, but rather the result of the work of hackers. Reid has employed a cybersecurity expert to bolster her assertions.

“I genuinely believe I did not write those hateful things because they are completely alien to me. But I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past why some people don’t believe me,”  she said during the opening segment of “A.M. Joy,” her MSNBC program, on Saturday, even as she admitted her team has not been able to find conclusive evidence that her posts had been manipulated. “The reality is, they have not been able to prove it,” she said of consultants working with her.  “I cannot take any of that back. I can only say that the person I am now is not the person I was then. I like to think that I’ve gotten better over time, that I’m still growing,” she said during the program.

Reid then proceeded to borrow a play that appears to have worked for HBO host Bill Maher, who faced a similar imbroglio in 2017 after he uttered a racial epithet on his “Real Time” program. In the aftermath, Maher convened guests like Ice Cube and Michael Eric Dyson to call him to task for using the slur and explore the issues about its use. Surrounded by representatives of the LBGTQ community Saturday, Reid told her assemblage, “Feel free to grill me” over the comments and attitudes she made in the past.

Her guests included columnist Jonathan Capehart as well as Zeke Stokes, vice president of programs for GLAAD.

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. MSNBC has not made a public comment about the growing imbroglio, though it has passed along statements from Reid and her representatives.

A number of MSNBC associates came to her aid on social media Saturday morning. Malcolm Nance, an MSNBC contributor and national-security expert, tweeted his support of Reid, while MSNBC primetime host Lawrence O’Donnell retweeted similar comments by CNN legal analyst and New Yorker writer Jeffrey Toobin. Rachel Maddow, Jacob Sobaroff, Craig Melvin and Nicolle Wallace are among the NBC News and MSNBC staffers who also added praise.

The controversy threatens to engulf Reid at a time when she has enjoyed greater visibility on MSNBC. Her weekend program has gained traction, particularly among fans of the progressive-minded programming MSNBC airs during its weekday prime schedule. She scored a sit-down interview with Hillary Clinton after the former U.S. Secretary of State and presidential candidate released a book on the 2016 presidential election. And, along with MSNBC colleague Ari Melber, Reid has been utilized as a frequent fill-in host for the network’s primetime hosts.