The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

MSNBC host Joy Reid once apologized for homophobic comments on her blog. Now she says she was hacked.

MSNBC political analyst Joy Reid said on April 23 that hackers “fabricated” homophobic posts published on her old blog. (Video: Amber Ferguson/The Washington Post)

Joy Reid, host of the weekend MSNBC show “AM Joy,” apologized more than four months ago for homophobic comments she admitted to making on her blog in the mid-2000s.

But now she’s suggesting she didn’t write many of the posts in the first place — that instead she was hacked.

The controversy began in December, when a Twitter user named @Jamie_Maz and then Mediaite posted images of homophobic comments ostensibly made by Reid on her blog, the Reid Report, when she was a Florida talk-radio host.

The blog frequently speculated that the former Republican governor of Florida, Charlie Crist, was a closeted gay man who married a woman as a facade, despite the fact that Crist had never come out as gay. It made fun of a haircut on a straight woman saying that it seemed to indicate she could be a lesbian. And it conveyed disgust of gay kissing and gay sex, leading the author to confess that she couldn’t bring herself to watch “Brokeback Mountain.”

In her December apology, Reid wrote:

“As someone who is not a member of the LGBT community I regret the way I addressed the complex issue of the closet and speculation on a person’s sexual orientation with a mocking tone and sarcasm. It was insensitive, tone deaf and dumb. There is no excusing it — not based on the taste-skewing mores of talk radio or the then-blogosphere, and not based on my intentions.”

But after @Jamie_Maz and Mediaite published a second round of blog post images Monday, Reid disputed them, revealing that she consulted with a cybersecurity expert in December who “identified unauthorized activity” on her blog.

Reid did not specify which posts she believed were fraudulent or which offensive comments she allegedly didn’t write. She offered no explanation for why she apologized for homophobic comments in December yet now claims a nefarious person must have hacked her.

In a statement to Mediaite, Reid said, “In December I learned that an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material from my now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology.”

“The manipulated material seems to be part of an effort to taint my character with false information by distorting a blog that ended a decade ago,” she said.

Late Wednesday, MSNBC sent The Washington Post an additional statement from Reid’s attorney, John H. Reichman, saying, “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. Our own investigation and monitoring of the situation will continue in parallel, and we are cooperating with law enforcement as their investigation proceeds.”

The Washington Post reviewed more than a dozen blog posts on Reid’s site that were archived on and written between 2005 and 2010. Other posts were linked to in Mediaite.

In a 2008 post filed under “not gay politicians,” the author doubted the authenticity of Crist’s recent marriage, saying, “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 author wrote in one, unveiled Monday, that “there are concerns that adult gay men tend to be attracted to very young, post-pubescent types, bringing them ‘into the lifestyle’ in a way that many people consider to be immoral.”

In another post unveiled Monday, the blog said, “Most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing. Most straight people cringed at the Snickers commercial. Most straight people had a hard time being convinced to watch ‘Broke Back Mountain.’ (I admit that I couldn’t go to see the movie either, despite my sister’s ringing endorsement, because I didn’t want to watch the two male characters having sex.)

“Does that make me homophobic? Probably.”

In response to questions from The Post Tuesday night about whether MSNBC believed Reid’s claims that she was hacked, a spokesman for the network sent a full-page statement from Reid’s cybersecurity consultant, Jonathan Nichols. The spokesman also included two December letters that an attorney for Reid sent to Google’s parent, Alphabet, and to Internet Archive, which operates the Wayback Machine.

In the letters, attorney John H. Reichman stated that Reid’s blog contained both fabricated posts and “fraudulent additions” in legitimate posts. He said the writing style and viewpoint of the posts don’t match that of a “well-known liberal journalist,” and demanded that Internet Archive remove them from its archives and that Alphabet investigate whether, specifically Reid’s blog, was compromised.

Nichols said in his statement Tuesday, “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.”

But the Internet Archive cast doubt on Reid’s hacking story Tuesday.

In a statement responding to Reid’s claims, the Internet Archive said it reviewed Reid’s blog archives after her attorney contacted the company. The archives are no longer available on the Wayback Machine because somebody used its automated system to end screen captures of Reid’s blog in recent months, the company said.

“When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions,” Butler’s statement said. “At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and different entities.”

The Washington Post has reached out to Reid for comment on her differing statements about the blog posts.

Her change, of course, drew swift criticism — most notably from the LGBTQ advocacy organization PFLAG National, which rescinded its Straight for Equality in Media award from Reid on Tuesday.

“When we extended our invitation to Ms. Reid to honor her at our 45th anniversary celebration, we did so knowing about the blog posts from the late 2000s regarding Charlie Crist,” PFLAG National President Jean Hodges said in a statement. “We appreciated how she stepped up, took ownership, apologized for them, and did better — this is the behavior and approach we ask of any ally. However, in light of new information, and the ongoing investigation of that information, we must at this time rescind our award to Ms. Reid.”

This story has been updated.

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