Breaking News Emails
In December, MSNBC weekend host Joy Reid apologized for homophobic blog posts from roughly a decade prior in which she speculated on the sexuality of then Florida Gov. Charlie Crist.
The posts, which appeared on the Reid Report, Reid's one-time blog, were brought to light by a Twitter user — @Jamie_Maz, whose identity is not publicly known. The Twitter user was able to find the posts through the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, a service that tracks, collects and stores old web pages.
Then, on April 18 of this year, @Jamie_Maz published a new crop of screenshots purported to have been acquired through the Internet Archive of Reid's blog, kicking off a fresh round of controversy around Reid.
In those posts, Reid appears to defend homophobic comments made by former NBA player Tim Hardaway and a U.S. Marine general, among other discussions of homosexuality.
Reid, host of MSNBC's "AM Joy," has not apologized for these posts, asserting that they are not her words. In a statement, she said, "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."
In a statement Wednesday evening, John H. Reichman, Reid's attorney, said, “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."
MSNBC declined to comment on the matter. Reid’s blog posts were written before she joined NBC News in 2011 as managing editor of TheGrio, a website owned by NBC at the time. Reid did not respond to a request for comment.
MSNBC is a part of NBC News, which is owned by NBCUniversal.
Reid, who joined MSNBC in 2014, added that she began working with a cybersecurity expert who she said identified the unauthorized activity late last year.
“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,” she wrote in the statment.
On Dec. 22, Reichman wrote a letter to Google's corporate parent, Alphabet, asking for help in “determining how, when and by whom the blog was hacked and the fraudulent posts entered.” Reid's blog was hosted on Blogger, a publisher that Google acquired in 2003.
In the letter, Reichman says Reid found that the homophobic posts were inserted into legitimate content from 2006 to 2007. Two posts, given as examples, “Best Love Life Ever: Celebrity Wife-Swap Edition,” and “Brokeback Committee Room,” were not posted or written by Reid, according to the letter.
Reid's lawyer also sent a letter to the Internet Archive, requesting that copies of her blog be removed for the period before Jan. 1, 2008. The letter refers to what it calls fraudulent posts made on Jan. 10, 2006, concerning sexual innuendos about Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, among other things. Reid’s lawyer also notes that there are no public comments on the postings it says are fraudulent.
The arguments made by her lawyer have so far failed to persuade the Internet Archive to take the requested action. The organization said in a blog post that it didn’t yet have enough evidence to confirm Reid’s claims and therefore rejected the request pending further evidence.
It is unclear whether the alleged manipulation was in the original blog or the archive, according to the blog post.
“When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions,” the blog post said. “At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities.”
Jonathan Nichols, an independent cybersecurity expert hired by Reid, said in a statement: “We have significant evidence indicating that not only was Ms. Reid’s old blog compromised, some of the recently circulated posts were not even on the site at any time, suggesting that these instances may be the result of screenshot manipulation with intent to tarnish Ms. Reid’s character."
In an interview, Nichols said he was contacted by Reid to look at cyberhygiene in November. He said he was “highly confident” that Reid’s blog had been infiltrated. “The preponderance of evidence is that she was hacked.” He noted that her gmail password was circulating online.
New Yorker journalist and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin sent a message of supportfor Reid on Wednesday.