The strange controversy surrounding MSNBC anchor Joy Reid took another turn Wednesday evening after her attorney said the Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation into whether online accounts belonging to her had been hacked, resulting in the surfacing of controversial remarks being ascribed to Reid that she says are fake.
“We have received confirmation the FBI has opened an investigation into potential criminal activities surrounding several online accounts, including personal email and blog accounts, belonging to Joy-Ann Reid,” said her lawyer, John H. Reichman, in a statement provided by MSNBC. “Our own investigation and monitoring of the situation will continue in parallel, and we are cooperating with law enforcement as their investigation proceeds.”
The weekend MSNBC anchor has been under scrutiny since the disclosure earlier this week of what are purported to be old blog posts taking offense at the idea of gay marriage and homosexuality. Reid has said in a statement she believes the posts were fabricated. 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 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 not made a public comment about the accusations ,but it has sent statements from a cybersecurity expert 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,” said 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.”
Executives at the Internet Archive, a San Francisco non-profit that provides free access to collections of digitized materials that include the old Reid blog posts in question, 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.
MSNBC has made more use of Reid in recent months. 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.