MSNBC host Joy Reid issued a lengthy and meandering apology Saturday for homophobic and transphobic posts that had appeared on her former blog, saying she “genuinely [does] not believe I wrote those hateful things” but acknowledging that they were in line with anti-LGBTQ sentiments she had expressed in the past.
Reid has been under fire since additional inflammatory posts on her decade-old blog, “The Reid Report,” resurfaced last week. She has claimed that she was hacked, going so far as to hire cybersecurity experts to investigate “if somebody had manipulated my words or my former blog,” she said Saturday in the opening of her show, “AM Joy.”
Those experts were not able to prove her claims, she added.
“But here’s what I know. I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things, because they are completely alien to me,” Reid said. “But I can definitely understand, based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past, why some people don’t believe me. I’ve not been exempt from being dumb or cruel or hurtful to the very people I want to advocate for. I own that. I get it. And for that, I am truly, truly sorry.”
On Monday, the website Mediaite unearthed posts that had appeared on Reid’s old blog in the 2000s, using images taken by a Twitter user using the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine, a site that stores copies of Web pages as they appeared at the time. Among them were posts that stated she simply couldn’t watch the movie “Brokeback Mountain” (“most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing”) and that being gay was a “lifestyle” that was “immoral.” There were also several other posts that called out prominent celebrities and public figures for reportedly being secretly gay.
Mediaite had already dug up in December an old post on Reid’s blog in which she suggested that then-Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was gay but had gotten married as a cover.
“I can just see poor Charlie on the honeymoon, ogling the male waiters and thinking to himself, ‘god, do I actually have to see her naked…?’ ” the 2008 blog post stated about the then-Republican.
In December, Reid apologized for the Crist post, calling it “insensitive, tone deaf and dumb.”
Last week, however, Reid defended herself to Mediaite, claiming the latest batch of offensive posts were “fabricated.” An attorney for Reid told The Washington Post that the FBI had opened up an investigation into potential hacking of Reid’s online accounts.
Nevertheless, Reid was hit with fallout from Mediaite’s newest revelations. The Daily Beast said it would temporarily suspend her column. The gay rights group PFLAG rescinded a “Straight for Equality in Media” award Reid had been scheduled to receive at a gala next month. The group said it had known about Reid’s blog posts about Crist, now a Democratic congressman, but implied that it was unaware of the others.
“We appreciated how she stepped up, took ownership, apologized for [the late 2000s blog posts regarding Crist], and did better — this is the behavior and approach we ask of any ally,” Jean Hodges, PFLAG national president, said in a statement. “However, in light of new information, and the ongoing investigation of that information, we must at this time rescind our award to Ms. Reid.”
Saturday on “AM Joy,” Reid for the first time directly addressed the controversy in a nearly four-minute opening.
“A community that I support and that I deeply care about is hurting because of some despicable and truly offensive posts being attributed to me,” Reid said. “Now, many of you may have seen these blog posts circulating online and on social media. And many of them are homophobic, discriminatory and outright weird and hateful. When a friend found them in December and sent them to me, I was stunned. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine where they’d come from or whose voice that was. In the months since, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to make sense of these posts.”
Reid also apologized specifically to conservative commentator Ann Coulter, who had been the subject of old tweets in which Reid suggested the Fox News host was a man.
“I had a conversation the other day with a friend who’s also an advocate for the LGBT community in Florida, who rightly took me to task for my tweets mocking Ann Coulter using transgender stereotypes,” Reid said. “I apologized to my friend and I want to apologize to the trans community and to Ann. Those tweets were wrong and horrible.”
Reid said she had grown up in a household with conservative views on LGBTQ issues, and she recounted a time when a friend came out to her as gay during her freshman year in college. Her first response to him was to express disappointment for “the women he could have married,” she said.
That friend reportedly was so hurt he didn’t speak to Reid for months — which she now regrets.
“I’m heartbroken that I didn’t do better back then … knowing so many great people in the LGBTQ community … and knowing how hard it must have been for so many of them to come out, especially for trans people,” Reid said Saturday. “And I feel like I should have known better than to ever write or tweet in a way that could make fun of or make light of that pain and that experience.”
Still, she said, she could not take any of it back, but insisted that “the person I am now is not the person I was then.”
“I like to think I’ve gotten better as a person over time, that I’m still growing, that I’m not the same person that I was 10 or five or even one year ago,” Reid said. “And I know that my goal is to try to be a better person and a better ally. Now the reality is, I have to own the things that I’ve written and tweeted and said. I’m hoping, out of all of this, there’s an opportunity to talk about all the ways that hurtful speech really does imperil marginalized communities. These issues matter, not just theoretically, but because we’re talking about our friends, our kids, our co-workers, people who deserve better than what I have sometimes given them.”
Reid’s apology received mixed reactions, split largely along party lines. The MSNBC host was widely panned by those on the right, who found her hacking claims flimsy and her apology halfhearted.
Others, including Reid’s colleagues at NBC as well as members of the LGBT community who appeared on her show after her open, praised Reid for taking responsibility for her actions and for vowing to do better.