The group PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has rescinded an allyship award it was scheduled to give Joy Reid next month after controversy over some old blog posts this week. Here is the statement the group released on its website:
PFLAG National—the nation’s first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people, their families, and allies—today has rescinded its Straight for Equality in Media award to political analyst Joy Reid.
Said PFLAG National president Jean Hodges, “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. 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.”
The group praises Reid for taking ownership when the previous blog posts were revealed last December. The implication seems to be that they aren’t as impressed by her current claim the old blog posts were the result of hacking. I don’t want to put words in their mouth but the statement makes me wonder if this wouldn’t have gone better for Reid if she’d simply fallen on her sword once again and apologized for her past remarks. As I noted yesterday, a lot has changed in 10-11 years. At the time Reid wrote these comments, both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were anti-gay marriage.
But it seems Reid is not backing down on her claim that she was hacked. Yesterday the Internet Archive released a statement saying they saw no indication their site had been hacked and further noting that their system contained multiple archives of the allegedly hacked material, strongly suggesting the archive was an accurate representation of what was present on the blog 10 years ago.
Last night Glenn Greenwald posted a letter from Reid’s cybersecurity expert which had been circulating within NBC. Greenwald was less than impressed with the content:
NBC is now sending around an undated, extremely vague "report" from what it says is Joy Reid's "security expert" – someone named Jonathan Nichols. Looks like it was written today in response to the controversy. Just for yourself if any evidence is here & if it's convincing: pic.twitter.com/yq1XGcGE5B
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 25, 2018
He also added this regarding the media’s relative lack of interest in the story:
If a website run by a Fox News host had heinously bigoted content found on it, & then that host claimed with no evidence that he didn't really write it but rather unknown, nefarious hackers inserted it into the site, do you think MSNBC & liberal websites would talk about it? #LOL
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 25, 2018
The statement does seem quite vague. The author says there was some suspicious formatting but doesn’t actually offer any examples. It also mentions the timing of some posts which were published while Reid was on the radio. Many blogs in 2010 had the ability to schedule posts. Also, don’t radio hosts have breaks when they can do other things? This doesn’t seem like an insurmountable technical problem to the possibility Reid was the author of those posts.
The statement also backs away from the suggestion that the Internet Archive was hacked. “At no time has Ms. Reid claimed that the Wayback Machine was hacked, though early in our investigation, we were made aware of a breach at archive.org which may have correlated with the fraudulent blog posts we observed on their website,” it reads. So this is an admission that, if the blog was hacked, it was hacked long ago, before Reid was on television. The statement also launches a brand new accusation:
We have significant evidence 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 incidences may be the result of screenshot manipulation with the intent to tarnish Ms. Reid’s character. Oddly, there were no responses in the comments sections of the entries, despite the inflammatory nature of the posts. If those posts were real they would have undoubtedly elicited responses from Ms. Reid’s base. There was also no contemporaneous verification or memory from Ms. Reid’s peers or individuals she regularly debated online.
So, this is going beyond the claim she was hacked and adding the claim that some of the posts were simply fabricated in Photoshop. How many? Which ones? The statement isn’t big on details. And conveniently the only way to verify if those posts existed on her old blog is via the Internet Archive. Since Joy Reid has pulled that archive down, it’s currently impossible for anyone to check if what her expert is saying is true.
Finally, the idea that no one remembers Joy Reid saying anything homophobic seems like a terrifically weak claim for two reasons. First, she has already apologized for similar statements four months ago found on the same old blog. Nothing in this statement says she is rescinding that apology or that the statements she apologized for at the time were not hers. Second, there are also tweets from this same time period (circa 2010) which sound very much like the blog content she is now disputing is hers. Mediaite published a few of these last night.
Who knew Ken Mehlman was gay (except everybody?) Jeez, next they'll tell us Rick Martin is… wait a minute…!
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) August 26, 2010
Sorry @Lawrence. I'm not gonna watch Ann Coulter. I like my drag queens fierce. Not a way to build ratings, my man.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) February 18, 2011
It’s the same speculation about gay politicos/celebrities found on the blog. Was Reid’s Twitter account hacked too? Just how big was the 2010 conspiracy to make Reid look bad in 2018?
Update: Politico reports Reid will remain on air while authorities investigate:
The NBC spokesperson, who declined to be named, said that Reid has referred the matter to law enforcement and that the network would wait for that process to play out before taking any action.
NBC representatives declined to say whether the network itself will investigate the posts. Reid did not reply immediately to a request for comment. Neither did the FBI, though it does not typically confirm or deny investigations.
Update: Another break in this story that I missed earlier. CNN Money was given a series of documents including a claim by Reid’s attorney that one specific blog post must have been the result of hacking. However, CNN found the post was mostly a blockquote and that the independent Library of Congress archive showed it was there in 2006, just two days after it was posted:
Reid’s attorney, John H. Reichman, highlighted what he said was another discrepancy in his letters to the companies, pointing out that Reid published posts on January 10, 2006 about the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito at 10:18 a.m., 11:34 a.m. and 11:41 a.m., but that the archive showed what Reichman described as a “lengthy, fraudulent entry” at 11:28 a.m.
“Ms. Reid did not have the superhuman blogging skills needed to do all of these posts simultaneously,” Reichman wrote.
A Library of Congress archive of the site shows that the “lengthy” entry contains only two sentences of text actually written by the post’s author; the rest is a quote.
The Library of Congress archive reviewed by CNNMoney — which the Library says is created using a local installation of the Wayback Machine — contains the disputed posts and lists them as having been archived on January 12, 2006. The documents provided by MSNBC to CNNMoney do not contain a letter to the Library of Congress regarding its archive.
So at least some of the material Reid’s people are offering as proof she was hacked turns out to undercut the idea she was hacked. I’m starting to think the FBI investigation of this isn’t going to work out well for Reid.