This week in media drama, it's MSNBC's Joy Ann Reid in the hot seat.
The saga began last December, after homophobic comments Reid allegedly posted on her now defunct blog were reported by Mediaite.
At the time, Mediaite's Caleb Ecarma wrote:
The MSNBC weekend host ran a blog called The Reid Report — which is the same name as her now-defunct cable news show — a decade ago while she wrote for the Miami Herald. As first resurfaced by Twitter user Jamie_Maz, Reid wrote numerous bigoted blog posts smearing, mocking, and attacking former Florida governor Charlie Crist. These rants included calling Crist “Miss Charlie” and sarcastically using the tags “gay politicians” and “not gay politicians” — despite the fact that the twice-married, heterosexual man has never come-out as gay.
Reid went on to spread the crackpot conspiracy theory that Crist was actually a closeted gay man who refused to come out for fear that his sexual orientation would hurt his political career. Additionally, the AM Joy host claims Crist’s marriages to women are part of this elaborate cover up.
As bad as the conspiracy theory is in itself, Reid doesn’t just suggest Cris is gay — she assumes he is gay and proceeds to attack him for it. “Miss Charlie, Miss Charlie. Stop pretending, brother. It’s okay that you don’t go for the ladies,” wrote Reid in a 2007 post.
After these posts were uncovered, Reid apologized. “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," she said. "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.”
After Reid's apology, the fervor mostly died down. But then, this week, after @Jamie_Maz and Mediaite published another round of posts digging into Reid's old blog, these ones about lesbian haircuts (which do exist but which Reid does not appreciate for their beauty), and how she couldn't bring herself to see Brokeback Mountain because two men kissing is nasty. Or, as she allegedly wrote, “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing."
But these posts, Reid insists, she did not write.
“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," she told Mediaite.
"I began working with a cyber-security expert who first identified the unauthorized activity, and we notified federal law enforcement officials of the breach. 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.
"Now that the site has been compromised I can state unequivocally that it does not represent the original entries. I hope that whoever corrupted the site recognizes the pain they have caused, not just to me, but to my family and communities that I care deeply about: LGBTQ, immigrants, people of color and other marginalized groups.”
Ok, so she was hacked. Or was she? On Tuesday, the Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library that preserves websites for all eternity, released a statement that calls Reid's claims into question:
This past December, Reid’s lawyers contacted us, asking to have archives of the blog (blog.reidreport.com) taken down, stating that “fraudulent” posts were “inserted into legitimate content” in our archives of the blog. Her attorneys stated that they didn’t know if the alleged insertion happened on the original site or with our archives (the point at which the manipulation is to have occurred, according to Reid, is still unclear to us).
When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions. At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities.
We let Reid’s lawyers know that the information provided was not sufficient for us to verify claims of manipulation. Consequently, and due to Reid’s being a journalist (a very high-profile one, at that) and the journalistic nature of the blog archives, we declined to take down the archives. We were clear that we would welcome and consider any further information that they could provide us to support their claims.
The same day, LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG rescinded an award honoring Reid at the group's 45th anniversary celebration.
As all this unrolled, Reid has remained largely silent (at least on social media), but NBC did, according to the Intercept's Glen Greenwald, circulate a statement from an independent security expert who validates Reid's claims, although Greenwald himself is dubious, and Mediaite then uncovered evidence linking that security expert to white nationalists, so it hasn't exactly help Reid's cause.
The lesson here? Never tweet. Still, I, a known homosexual, would like to offer Reid an olive branch, because the thing is, she's right. Despite his two heterosexual marriages, Charlie Crist could definitely be gay. He's no Marcus Bachmann, but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to see Crist at a Key West drag brunch. I mean, look:
He's kind, tolerant, willing to change his beliefs (he left the Republican Party in 2010, before it was fashionable), and he says, "I am who I am," which is what every teen homosexual says upon coming out. Plus, he plays football, which everyone knows is the gayest sport after hunting, and he was featured in this documentary about conservative closet cases, which makes a pretty good argument for ol' gay Crist, as did Queerty back in 2009.
Sure, Reid probably shouldn't have referred to him as "Miss Charlie" over a dozen times, but people used to say shit like that in 2007, just like people used to say that two dudes kissing was gross—lots of people (perhaps even you?). And, for what it's worth, I know how Reid feels about getting squicked out by sex scenes: While two men kissing is fine by me, a man and a woman? Ew sick gross. What kind of sicko wants to see that?
People evolve. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were both against same-sex marriage before they had their come-to-gay-jesus moments. Clearly, Joy Ann Reid, and the world, has changed in the past decade, especially when it comes to queer issues. Now, if she's lying about being hacked, that's not a good look, and she should probably come clean before she loses whatever chance she has at redemption. But as for her comments themselves, I'm having trouble getting outraged about decade-old homophobic jokes when there is so much more to actually worry about. But I'm guessing I'm the queer outlier here, and as Joy Ann Reid has learned, the internet never forgets.
Note: This post has been updated to include documentary evidence asserting that Charlie Crist may indeed be gay.