After Mediaite published a story on Monday revealing a series of homophobic posts from MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid's now-defunct blog—reigniting a controversy that has been swirling for months since Reid apologized for writing bigoted articles about former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist—the LGBTQ rights group PFLAG decided on Wednesday to rescind its "Straight for Equality in Media" award to the influential journalist and pundit.
"If Joy had just done what she did in December—owned the comments, explained they no longer represent her views, that she's evolved and now supports LGBT equality—everyone would have accepted that."
—Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
While commending Reid for taking "ownership" of the homophobic blog posts about Crist, PFLAG pointed to the new posts highlighted by Mediaite and "the ongoing investigation of that information" as the reason it decided to withdraw the honor.
Contrary to her approach when the Crist articles were found—she admitted they were "insensitive, tone deaf, and dumb"—Reid has insisted that the newly uncovered blog posts were "fabricated" by a hacker who "manipulated material" on her site in an effort to tarnish her character.
Reid has not specified which of the dozens of blog posts were doctored. The blog posts were discovered by a Twitter user on the Wayback Machine, an archive of online content.
Noting it is "technically possible" Reid's blog was distorted by a hacker, The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald noted on Tuesday that the newly discovered writings—which include pernicious stereotypes of "gay men as pedophile predators" and a defense of a former NBA star's anti-gay comments—are quite consistent with some of Reid's more recent writing and tweets that she has not claimed are "fabricated."
In addition to mocking Chelsea Manning in a "transphobic" Twitter thread just last year and defending her horrific treatment at the hands of the U.S. government, Reid also has a long history of "[m]ocking people on gender grounds, referring to men she suspects are gay as 'Miss,' or implying they are trans for the sake of mockery," Greenwald observed.
"None of this precludes her hacking claims from being true—maybe 'external' actors decided to augment her confirmed bigoted, anti-LGBT writing with even more bigoted, anti-LGBT writing—but it is certainly probative on the question, given how consistent the passages she denies writing are with the ones she clearly did write," Greenwald adds.
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If Joy had just done what she did in December - owned the comments, explained they no longer represent her views, that she's evolved & now supports LGBT equality - everyone would have accepted that. Instead, she offered a complex hacking tale denial. It matters if it's true.— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 25, 2018
Attempting to curb the outrage over the newly uncovered blog posts, NBC has begun circulating a statement from "cybersecurity consultant" Jonathan Nichols, who was hired by Reid to get to the bottom of the supposed manipulation of her blog.
Nichols says he has "significant evidence" that Reid's blog itself—and not the Wayback Machine archives—was hacked and added "we are continuing our own investigation."
Critics immediately cast doubt on Nichols' account, noting that it appears to suggest hackers manipulated Reid's blog before the Wayback Machine captured the posts in its archive—a feat Buzzfeed's Joe Bernstein argues is highly implausible.
Also, the Wayback Machine captured these posts at or near the time they were posted - over ten years ago. For this account to make sense, someone would have had to access Reid's blog with Dark Web credentials, then travel back in time https://t.co/1QxuL94fvG— Joe Bernstein (@Bernstein) April 25, 2018
Ultimately, "regardless of what actually happened here, this is a serious news story—obviously so," Greenwald argues.
"And the biggest part of the story is not whether Reid wrote this anti-gay content. Again, if she did, and she acknowledged and apologized for it, that should not be held against her," Greenwald concludes. "The biggest part of the story is the veracity of her remarkable claim—that she’s making not 10 years ago but now—that it was hackers who wrote the offensive material under her name."