The FBI may be investigating the Joy Reid “hacking” case, but at least one of the MSNBC host’s employers isn’t buying her story that homophobic posts from an old blog she ran were the result of digital malfeasance.
According to the Washington Examiner, The Daily Beast has suspended Reid’s column at the publication pending the outcome of an investigation into the posts.
“We’re going to hit pause on Reid’s columns,” Daily Beast Executive Editor Noah Shachtman said in a staff email.
“As you’re well aware, support for LGBTQ rights and respect for human dignity are core to Daily Beast. So we’re taking seriously the new allegations that one of our columnists, Joy Reid, previously wrote homophobic blog posts during her stint as a radio host.”
“Obviously, this is a difficult situation,” the email continued. “We’ve all said and done things in our lives that we wish we hadn’t done. We deserve the room to grow beyond our past. But these allegations are serious enough that they deserve a full examination.”
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to l’affaire Reid — and that’s probably a lot of you, given her ratings — here’s the adumbrated version: Back when Reid was confined to radio, she ran a blog called the Reid Report. This was roughly a decade ago, and she made a lot of homophobic remarks, particularly in regard to Florida’s Gov. Charlie Crist and rumors he was gay. The old posts showed up on Twitter, as these things tend to do:
Thread – 1/x Joy Reid's homophobic blog posts were far worse than 1st reported.
They also had nothing to do with Republican hypocrisy on gay marriage. Joy also opposed gay marriage at the time. She gleefully accused people of being gay and posted a number of questionable things. pic.twitter.com/ZloivXczTS
— Boston College is anti-LGBTQ+ (@Jamie_Maz) April 18, 2018
Other comments included “adult gay men tend to be attracted to very young, post-pubescent types, bringing them ‘into the lifestyle,’” and “part of the intrinsic nature of ‘straightness’ is that the idea of homosexual sex is … well … gross … even if you think that gay people are perfectly lovely individuals.”
Well, that’s awkward, considering who employs her. If she were taking a stand against political correctness from the left and using it to point out hypocrisy, I suppose she might have gotten away with it. However, Reid had also previously apologized for similar posts about Crist late last year.
“Among the frequent subjects of my posts was then-governor Charlie Crist, at the time a conservative Republican, whose positions on issues like gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in Florida shared headlines with widely rumored reports that he was hiding his sexual orientation,” Reid said in a statement of apology.
“At no time have I intentionally sought to demean or harm the LGBT community, which includes people whom I deeply love. My goal, in my ham-handed way, was to call out potential hypocrisy.”
To do this, she nicknamed him “Miss Charlie,” which is clearly not demeaning. Oh, and her positions on gay marriage at the time were apparently the same as Crist’s. But never mind. Picking apart hypocrisy and lies in an apology statement from an MSNBC host isn’t something I have enough clonazepam on hand to deal with, so let’s just leave it at that.
The thing with this one is that it’s not just Crist who’s being attacked in these posts. She’s also using “gay” as an epithet and attacking Harriet Miers — the withdrawn Bush Supreme Court nominee — as a lesbian.
It’s strange when someone at The Atlantic makes the most sense out of all of the takes I’ve read on an issue, but Alexis C. Madrigal notes quite astutely that the easiest way out for Reid would be to simply go with another mea culpa and note how times had altered the landscape of the LGBT debate on the left.
“Attitudes changed, the moral arc bent, and now, a lot fewer people disparage gay people like this than did in 2006,” Madrigal wrote. “A liberal talk-show host would and should be embarrassed and ashamed by these posts popping up, but Reid apologized once, and could have done so again.”
That’s all she had to do — an apology. The left forgives their own very easily. That’s all Joy Reid had to do to make sure everyone in liberaldom thought she was the politically-pristine, Trump-hating liberal everyone thought she was before this came out. That’s all Joy Reid had to do.
That’s not what Joy Reid did.
“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,” Reid’s lawyer, John H. Reichman, said in a statement Wednesday.
“Five months ago, we found evidence Joy Reid’s now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, was breached after a review of suspicious activity,” Jonathan Nichols, a cybersecurity expert working for Reid, said 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.”
Ah yes, the hacking defense. Apparently, Reid has been taking night classes at the Anthony Weiner School of I Swear I Didn’t Do It, Huma, Honest.
The problem is that most of these posts come from what’s known as the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive. You may not have heard of this resource, but if you do media work, it’s pretty much indispensable. It’s an archive of what a certain webpage looked like at a certain point in time. In other words, if it’s been archived and someone deleted it, or changed it to excise offensive or problematic material, it’s still there on the Wayback Machine.
For obvious reasons, one assumes the Wayback Machine is pretty well guarded when it comes to cybersecurity. Furthermore, the believability of the explanation that Joy Reid’s old login information or Wayback Machine login information was available on the “Dark Web” is inversely proportional to how much you know about the “Dark Web” and how archival material works, to say nothing of the fact that there’s little to no incentive to go to such Herculean lengths to smear a minor MSNBC host who merely needed to apologize to get herself out of the soup.
You may not be surprised to find that the Internet Archive found no evidence that Reid’s pages had been hacked.
“When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions,” Chris Butler, an office manager at the Internet Archive, said in a blog post, according to Variety.
“At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities,” he added.
In other words, multiple archival sources had “viewed” the page and archived it in the format it was discovered in by the Twitter user. That makes hacking it — already pretty close to impossible — even more unlikely.
There’s also the issue of time-stamping. Again, I refer to Madrigal, who explains this rather succinctly: “The Wayback Machine has been archiving posts for years and years, and in many instances, it re-crawls URLs. A blog post that went live in 2006 might have been indexed in 2007 and 2009 and 2011 and 2017. This is important because if Reid’s blog was hacked to insert new posts with old dates, the copies in the Internet Archive’s repository would have recent dates, even if they showed old time stamps on Reid’s site.”
Losing her column at The Daily Beast may not be the best news one can get, but I get the feeling this is just the beginning of Reid’s travails. The FBI doesn’t look too kindly on being sent on wild goose chases and the evidence does not come down in Ms. Reid’s favor in this case. While MSNBC isn’t entirely averse to putting liars on air and has thus far stood by their host, this is kind of blowing up for Reid, and not in the positive colloquial sense.
I doubt Reid will experience any legal repercussions for this; all references to the FBI investigation made by her legal/cybersecurity team are rather vague and I don’t think she’s stupid enough (or has lawyers stupid enough) to do something like file a false report or make false statements to FBI officials. However, the odds of her remaining employed in any capacity by a major media outlet by the end of 2018 seem to lessen by the day.
And the sad thing is, all she had to say was she was sorry. It worked once, it would have worked again. The fault, dear Joy, is not in the servers, but in yourself.
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