After a new batch of homophobic blog posts that appear to be written by liberal MSNBC host Joy Reid surfaced on Monday, Reid claimed that she was a victim of a hack.
MSNBC in turn promoted Reid’s claims that she was hacked, sending reporters a statement and letter from Reid’s lawyer claiming that her blog had been hacked.
Reid first addressed past homophobic comments on her old blog in December, when the first batch of posts were surfaced by Twitter user @Jamie_Maz. At the time, Reid apologized for the posts. But when @Jamie_Maz surfaced new homophobic posts from that same time period on Monday, Reid claimed she was hacked.
“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,” Reid said in a statement to Mediaite on Monday, adding that she has been working with a cybersecurity expert and had contacted law enforcement.
The Internet Archive, the group that runs the Wayback Machine and held the archives of Reid’s old blog, responded on Tuesday and said they found no indication that the Wayback Machine versions of Reid’s blog posts were tampered with. The Internet Archive ran its review of the posts after Reid’s attorneys asked for the posts to be removed and indicated they had been hacked at Reid’s blog or in the Wayback Machine.
“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 At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities,” the Internet Archive wrote in a blog post. “We let Reid’s lawyers know that the information provided was not sufficient for us to verify claims of manipulation.”
The Internet Archive added that after they declined to remove the posts, the archives disappeared due to an action carried out by an unauthorized third party.
Following the Internet Archive’s pushback, MSNBC circulated a statement from a cybersecurity consultant working for Reid, Jonathan Nichols. He claimed that the login information for Reid’s blog “was available on the Dark Web and that fraudulent entries — featuring offensive statements — were entered with suspicious formatting and time stamps.” He said that Reid’s attorney wrote to Archive.org about the posts in December but said that Reid “at no time claimed that the Wayback Machine was hacked.” He also said he believes some of the posts circulated recently were never on the blog, “suggesting that these instances may be the result of screenshot manipulation.”
The archives of Reid’s old posts no longer appear to be available. Posts reviewed by the Washington Post included comments speculating that Florida Gov. Charlie Crist was gay and a post claiming that “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing.”
The newly surfaced blog posts and Reid’s response drew skepticism and criticism on Tuesday. The LGBT advocacy group PFLAG National announced on Tuesday that it rescinded its plan to give Reid its Straight for Equality in Media award this year.
“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,” PFLAG National president Jean Hodges said in a statement.
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