MSNBC and Joy Reid on Friday both finally commented on the latest round of hateful old blog posts unearthed by various outlets. They did not, however, address Reid’s initial and unsubstantiated claim that the posts were fake.
And more than a month after the controversy began, many of Reid’s MSNBC colleagues are embarrassed by the network’s handling of it.
In late April, when decade-old homophobic posts from her blog first emerged, Reid claimed the FBI had opened an investigation and that she had a cyber-security consultant with proof her old blog was hacked to fabricate those posts.
The claim crumbled under scrutiny, The Daily Beast found. But neither Reid nor MSNBC have commented on whether they stand by the hacking claim; or whether the supposed FBI probe is still ongoing.
But in the intervening month, more old posts have been unearthed, including ones that: promote an Alex Jones-produced video alleging 9/11 was an inside job; feature a doctored photo of Sen. John McCain as the shooter in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre; praise Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s proposal to relocate the “Zionist regime” from Israel to Europe; declare that she “loves” xenophobic TV host Lou Dobbs for his takedown of an “open borders advocate;” and claim that Mexican migrants come to the U.S. not for freedom but just “to send home money.”
On Friday, Reid—once a Daily Beast columnist—broke her silence.
“There are things I deeply regret and am embarrassed by, things I would have said differently and issues where my position has changed. Today I’m sincerely apologizing again.”
She continued: “I’m sorry for the collateral damage and pain this is causing individuals and communities caught in the crossfire.”
Reid directly addressed her disparaging post about McCain, calling him a “public servant and patriot” and explaining that she has reached out to the senator’s family, including her former MSNBC colleague Meghan McCain. “I feel deeply for her and her family.”
She also denounced her 9/11 and Israel-related posts, writing, “There is no question in my mind that Al Qaeda perpetrated the 9/11 attacks or about Israel’s right to its sovereignty.”
MSNBC stood by her in a separate statement.
“Some of the things written by Joy on her old blog are obviously hateful and hurtful. They are not reflective of the colleague and friend we have known at MSNBC for the past seven years,” the network wrote. “Joy has apologized publicly and privately and said she has grown and evolved in the many years since, and we know this to be true.”
Neither statement mentions Reid’s thus far unsubstantiated claim that a hacker somehow inserted all of the offensive or questionable blog posts onto her site. Nor does either statement update on the alleged FBI probe.
MSNBC declined to comment for this story.
Jonathan Capehart will fill in for Reid on this week’s AM Joy at least one day this weekend, however, The Daily Beast has learned.
The network‘s failure to address that dubious hacking claim has irked some inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Several employees who spoke to The Daily Beast—on condition of anonymity so as not to jeopardize their employment—said they were largely unimpressed with the statements, noting that many questions remain conspicuously unanswered.
“Everyone in the building is laughing at the idea that it was a hacker,” one MSNBC staffer told The Daily Beast.
“It’s just a joke,” said another employee.
According to several NBC insiders, however, some staffers on Reid’s show believed she was hacked—a sentiment shared by several of her friends in the media who first defended her in April.
Other staffers who spoke with The Daily Beast expressed a growing sense of alarm about how this ongoing saga may damage MSNBC’s reputation as a news outlet.
While Reid is well-liked and respected by colleagues, said one staffer, they are waiting for Reid and MSNBC management to demonstrate a sense of accountability for her inconvenient past writing beyond boilerplate apologies. “It’s very problematic,” said an MSNBC insider.
Particularly, several LGBT staffers at the network expressed feeling insulted by how Reid seemingly suffered no consequences for her old homophobic blog posts or transphobic tweets.
“How many apologies do we need?” another staffer asked.
Others pointed out that this ordeal makes it difficult for Reid to freely comment on the news without viewers calling out some hypocrisy. Multiple staffers pointed to how Reid was roundly mocked online when—amid outrage over Roseanne Barr’s racist tirade—daytime host Andrea Mitchell asked Reid, without irony, “What do you have to do on social media to get fired from a top rated show on an American broadcast network?”
“Now she can’t talk about Samantha Bee, she can’t talk about Roseanne, she can’t talk about anything to do with Israel,” another MSNBC staffer told The Daily Beast. “What can she talk about?”
One former high-level NBC producer, familiar with the cable network’s internal politics, pointed The Daily Beast to an April tweet from MSNBC’s top star Rachel Maddow as a compass for where this controversy was headed all along.
“Brains, guts, heart and soul—beloved Joy Reid has always been a treasured and brilliant colleague, but I've never been prouder to work with her than I am now,” the powerful primetime star wrote.
“This was the word of God that Joy Reid was safe.”