Joy Reid has apologized for writing anti-LGBTQ posts on her old blog, but she still has not answered important questions about her honesty and journalistic integrity.
A weeklong saga surrounding her claims that The Reid Report, her now-defunct blog, was subject to a cyberattack culminated with the MSNBC host apologizing ― once again ― for previously espousing homophobic positions.
The host of “AM Joy” said on air Saturday that her opinions have evolved since writing “offensive” statements several years ago. She echoed an apology she delivered in December after screenshots surfaced of blog posts she wrote between 2007 and 2009 that accused a former Florida governor of being a closeted gay man.
Many of her most vocal supporters online have enthusiastically accepted her apologies, concluding ― and rightly so ― that people should be allowed to re-examine their beliefs over time.
What stands out, though, is the ease with which her supporters have accepted her hacking claims, ignoring monumental gaps in plausibility.
But the hacking claims fell apart under scrutiny from several media outlets. Documents and statements provided to HuffPost by Reid’s hired cybersecurity consultant, Jonathan Nichols, failed to prove Reid’s blog had been hacked or that the disputed posts were in fact fraudulent.
“I hired cybersecurity experts to see if somebody had manipulated my words or my former blog, and the reality is they have not been able to prove it,” she continued. “But here’s what I know: I genuinely do not believe I wrote 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.”
Her comments appeared in stark contrast to her initial statement.
.@MSNBC's Joy Reid addresses homophobic blog posts:
"I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things ... But I can definitely understand, based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past, why some people don't believe me." pic.twitter.com/PWjdPfs5KB
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 28, 2018
Reid apologized for her past anti-trans comments about conservative host Ann Coulter, who Reid called a “dude” and a “drag queen” on Twitter in 2011. She explained that she grew up in a household that had “conservative views” on the LGBTQ community.
The next 30 minutes or so of Saturday’s show were dedicated to discussion with a panel of LGBTQ activists on the ways “hurtful speech” imperils marginalized communities.
Reid did not say whether her hired cybersecurity experts were continuing to investigate the alleged hacking, nor did she provide new details about the FBI’s alleged investigation into the matter, as confirmed by her attorney Wednesday. She did not address the posts at all during her show Sunday, nor did any of her guests bring them up.
Support from Reid’s defenders, including several MSNBC reporters, flooded Twitter over the weekend.
Everyone of us will walk in @JoyAnnReid ‘s shoes some day - filled with remorse and regret over something we have said or done, but I predict that few will do so this eloquently. Sending support and admiration to you and your amazing panel and team @JoyAnnReid https://t.co/qV26Rcy6D9
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— Nicolle Wallace (@NicolleDWallace) April 28, 2018
Brains, guts, heart and soul -- beloved Joy Reid has always been a treasured and brilliant colleague, but I've never been prouder to work with her than I am now. https://t.co/J95uL3CjMv
— Rachel Maddow MSNBC (@maddow) April 28, 2018
Big Love to @JoyAnnReid AND her brave panel for taking this issue head on and moving our understanding of LGBTQ issues forward
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) April 28, 2018
I support my friend @JoyAnnReid. I cannot speak for the LGBTQ communities who were surely hurt, but I considered this apology to be thoughtful and humble. I hope that it, and the discussion that followed on her Saturday show, were helpful. Nothing to add. pic.twitter.com/RSEfzXXRdY
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) April 29, 2018
Joy Ann Reid apology. Appropriate. Heartfelt. This unique and compelling voice for tolerance and equality should not be silenced. We learn - and change - from our mistakes. She has.
— Eric Holder (@EricHolder) April 28, 2018
It is striking ― and disturbing ― that Reid’s colleagues and her employer aren’t demanding answers about her seemingly contradictory statements on the alleged hacking. In her initial statement, Reid said a cybersecurity expert had “identified ... unauthorized activity” on her blog that resulted in numerous “fabricated” posts. But on Saturday, Reid said her hired experts couldn’t prove it.
MSNBC has not publicly released a statement supporting Reid. On Sunday, a MSNBC spokesman told NPR’s David Folkenflik that network executives “remain supportive of Reid.”
MSNBC had basically been silent on Joy Reid. Here's statement from MSNBC spokesman today: "MSNBC executives remain supportive of Reid. They believe she did well in her statement on her show on Saturday and have noted the large outpouring of positive support she’s received."
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) April 29, 2018
To be clear: this is not an *official* network statement. It does reflect direct remarks of MSNBC exec offering mindset of MSNBC brass.
— David Folkenflik (@davidfolkenflik) April 29, 2018
A representative for MSNBC declined to provide HuffPost with evidence suggesting Reid’s blog had been subject to “unauthorized activity,” as Reid claimed in her initial statement. Nichols did not respond to a request for additional comment.
MSNBC also hasn’t responded to a request for comment about whether the network is conducting an internal investigation into Reid’s story.
If the network can’t be trusted to seek truth in its own organization, how can it expect its viewers to trust it to seek truth from the highest levels of the government?
Memory is malleable, and it’s possible that Reid, when first confronted with the latest batch of screenshots, genuinely believed that she did not write them. But as a journalist and public intellectual, she had an obligation to thoroughly examine whether she wrote the items that she now views as hateful. Instead, she waved away this responsibility by declaring that she does not “believe” she wrote them.
At a time when the press is routinely attacked by the Trump administration, integrity should be of the utmost importance to every media organization. Reid is obviously well-liked by liberals, and as a female political analyst of color she offers a voice that’s often underrepresented on cable news.
Surely people needn’t condemn Reid’s character to eternal damnation over this incident, but the public can ― and should ― demand transparency and truth from journalists. As some of Reid’s most high-profile defenders have noted in the past, our democracy depends on it.