Suspended: Daily Beast Hits the Brakes On Joy Reid's Column Over Homophobic Posts

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Posted: Apr 26, 2018 12:35 PM
Suspended: Daily Beast Hits the Brakes On Joy Reid's Column Over Homophobic Posts

MSNBC Host Joy Reid has come under siege. Past posts on her now defunct blog, The Reid Report, showcased a rather ugly side of the liberal media personality, fraught with anti-gay rhetoric. This isn’t the first time. A trove of posts was unearthed in December of 2017, written between 2007 and 2009, that mocked former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist; she issued an apology. Now, a new post dump has dropped, but instead of apologizing, she’s claiming the entries were fabricated, and that she was hacked. Oh, and some are saying the Russians did it. The FBI is now conducting an investigation, but there appears next to zero evidence to suggest Reid was hacked (via The Atlantic) [emphasis mine]:

The posts had been dug up on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, which maintains copies of many pages on the web. When Reid said she’d been hacked, many jumped to the conclusion that it was the Wayback Machine that had been hacked. On its blog, the Internet Archive said that Reid’s lawyers had contacted them about a possible hack, but that they had no indication that one had occurred.

“This past December, Reid’s lawyers contacted us, asking to have archives of the blog (blog.reidreport.com) taken down, stating that ‘fraudulent’ posts were ‘inserted into legitimate content’ in our archives of the blog,” they wrote. “Her attorneys stated that they didn’t know if the alleged insertion happened on the original site or with our archives (the point at which the manipulation is to have occurred, according to Reid, is still unclear to us).”

On review, the Internet Archive “found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions

The Wayback Machine has been archiving posts for years and years, and in many instances, it re-crawls URLs. A blog post that went live in 2006 might have been indexed in 2007 and 2009 and 2011 and 2017. This is important because if Reid’s blog was hacked to insert new posts with old dates, the copies in the Internet Archive’s repository would have recent dates, even if they showed old time stamps on Reid’s site.

It’s not possible to view the Internet Archive’s public stash of Reid blog posts because Reid’s team recently inserted code into the site that prevents the Internet Archive from indexing it.

But the Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle confirmed to me that the Wayback Machine crawled Reid’s site back in the 2000s—and that there was nothing suspicious about the way the posts appeared in the archives.

“We saw [the blog posts] in the ’00s soon after they were dated on the blog, and [they were] archived in normal course of operations,” Kahle told me.

Some of the explanations for the hack that Reid is offering would require time travel (via Slate):

Her claims have been described as implausible by tech experts. The Intercept wrote that specialists it consulted “were personally unaware of previous instances of the Wayback Machine being hacked and altered” and noted that Reid has also used some of the homophobic tropes in the newly surfaced posts (e.g., referring to allegedly gay men as “Miss”) on her presumably authentic Twitter account. A Tuesday post on the Wayback Machine’s blog said the site’s operators looked into Reid’s allegations but found that “nothing to indicate tampering or hacking” had taken place. (The post also noted that material from Reid’s blog has been automatically removed even from the Wayback Machine’s archives via a “robots.txt exclusion request,” a subject that you can read more about here.)

Tuesday night, Jonathan Nichols—an “independent security consultant” employed by Reid—released a statement responding to the Wayback Machine post and other coverage. Nichols asserted that the alleged hacking may not have taken place via the Wayback Machine but via saboteurs who logged into Reid’s actual blog itself using login information that was obtained on the “dark web.” As observers including BuzzFeed tech/politics reporter Joe Bernstein have noted, however, the disputed posts were independently archived years ago, seemingly suggesting that whoever framed Reid would have had to have done so when she was still a blogger and Florida radio host who was unknown at the national level.

Well, as a result of these allegations, The Daily Beast has decided to hit the brakes on Reid’s columns for now (via The Wrap):

The Daily Beast will suspend future columns from Joy Reid due to the fallout over comments she made on an old blog a decade ago, the website’s executive editor Noah Shachtman told staff in an internal memo on Wednesday.

“We’re going to hit pause on Reid’s columns,” said Shachtman in an email reviewed by TheWrap. “As you’re well aware, support for LGBTQ rights and respect for human dignity are core to Daily Beast. So we’re taking seriously the new allegations that one of our columnists, Joy Reid, previously wrote homophobic blog posts during her stint as a radio host.”

“Obviously, this is a difficult situation,” Shachtman added. “We’ve all said and done things in our lives that we wish we hadn’t done. We deserve the room to grow beyond our past. But these allegations are serious enough that they deserve a full examination”

Watching the Left, Reid, and MSNBC sweat over this could potentially be entertaining.