Yesterday, HuffPost threw Joy Reid under the bus with a story titled “Joy Reid’s Hacking Claims Look Increasingly Unlikely.” Late last night the Daily Beast, where Reid is a columnist (albeit a suspended one), published a lengthy piece titled, “Claims by Joy Reid’s Cybersecurity Expert Fall Apart.” For starters, Reid’s cybersecurity consultant couldn’t provide anything to back up his own claim that someone had Photoshopped images of posts that never existed on her blog.
To support the screenshot forgery allegation, Nichols pointed to six images in the @Jamie_Maz Twitter timeline that he said were definitely not written by Reid nor posted by a hacker, but instead were outright fabricated images of posts that never appeared on the site. “The most obvious one was an instance where—it’s an easy one, it’ll stick in your head— [@Jamie_Maz] says Joy made statements about Eddie Murphy. It’s obviously false, she never made that claim.”
Nichols said those six posts are nowhere to be found in the Internet Archive. But that is not true.
Further searching on the Internet Archive turned up the posts for all six of the screenshots Nichols described as fakes, including the one about Eddie Murphy. The Internet Archive’s records indicate they were retrieved and stored between 2006 and 2009. And all six are exactly as they appear in the screenshots. A random check of other screenshots attributed to the blog produced the same result: None of the images are faked or doctored.
The Daily Beast even figured out how Nichols got this wrong. He looked at tags visible in the screenshots then compared those to a list of tags used on Reid’s site. Since some tags weren’t listed on the site, he concluded those images must be Photoshopped. In fact, those tags came from an outside site, Technorati.com, which no longer exists. Aside from the unsupported Photoshop claim, Nichols offered two other proofs that some of the posts were hacked [emphasis added]:
As described by Nichols, the conclusion that a hacker was posting on Reid’s blog rests primarily on two types of forensic clues within the disputed posts. First, he said, some of the allegedly planted posts contain punctuation choices and markup sharply different from Reid’s other posts. The Daily Beast compared scores of disputed and undisputed posts and could not discern any such anomalies. Pressed for specifics—which posts, which artifacts—Nichols said Wednesday that he did not have ready access to that information, but would provide it. Reached again on Thursday, he said he did not have any details to offer. “I thought I did,” he said “We’re kind of reevaluating as of yesterday.”
The other proof was the time stamp of some of the posts which allegedly went up during Reid’s radio show. The idea here was that no one could have pumped out so much amazing content while on the air, therefore it must have been someone else. [emphasis added]
The Daily Beast asked Nichols to provide those posts on Wednesday, and the cybersecurity consultant replied: “I don’t have that on hand.” On Thursday Nichols passed on what he now says is the only example he has available. Dated Thursday, Aug. 30, 2007, the post—titled “Is you is, or is you ain’t gonna impeach?”—reads in its entirety: “John Conyers talks a good game in front of a hometown crowd, but is he serious about keeping impeachment on the table?”
So the proof for the Photoshop claim is zero and the proof for the hacking claim is one post of 21 words (30 if you include the headline) which Joy supposedly couldn’t have posted while on the air. This is a complete lack of credible evidence.
But the clincher comes at the end of this story. These posts Reid has claimed were the result of a hack, span a range from 2005-2010. But the content in question was archived by the Internet Archive in real time, often within days of appearing on her site. So some of it appeared in 2005 and some more appeared five years later in 2010, and every year in between that. No one hacked her site once and added a bunch of material with fake dates. The archive rules that out. If this is a hack, it’s one that took place for at least five years. Honestly, that’s more of a shadow blogger, and yet somehow Reid never noticed.
The only real question left is how long before Reid admits she has nothing to back up her claims. Will it be a news dump later today or will she wait until the FBI concludes there’s nothing to it? And related to that question is this one: What will MSNBC do when Reid admits her excuse has fallen apart?