MSNBC star Joy Reid’s credibility took another hit on Thursday night when claims by a cybersecurity expert she hired to prove she didn’t write homophobic slurs on her pre-fame blog fell apart amid an investigation by The Daily Beast, where Reid is a paid contributor.
Reid claims hackers are responsible for homophobic slurs that were recently unearthed on her old blog, “The Reid Report,” and NBC helped her distribute a statement to that effect from independent security consultant, Jonathan Nichols. As many experts and critics across the media industry doubted Reid’s story, The Daily Beast suspended her column and enlisted its own reporters to investigate her claims.
Nichols’ statement claimed he found evidence that Reid’s blog was breached using information available on the “Dark Web” and blamed other homophobic rhetoric on “screenshot manipulation.” His claims were quickly criticized and picked apart and The Daily Beast essentially put a nail in them with a bombshell report.
Nichols “had trouble producing the promised evidence,” according to Daily Beast tech guru Kevin Poulsen. “What he did produce failed to withstand scrutiny… indicators of hacked posts don’t bear out.”
Poulsen meticulously broke down why claims Reid’s hired cybersecurity guru are “not true.” Nichols falsely claimed screenshots tweeted of the homophobic slurs are nowhere to be found in the Internet Archive, according to Poulsen, who reported that every example provided by Nichols turned out to be untrue.
“None of the images are faked or doctored,” Poulsen wrote. “A closer look at the archived blog by The Daily Beast revealed an error in Nichols’ methodology.”
Poulsen also exposed Reid’s hired gun of botching an explanation that content tags visible in the screenshots would help prove they were not genuine – forcing Nichols to admit his mistake.
“I’ve become aware of some methodology issues,” he told The Daily Beast. “We are looking to resolve the discrepancy.”
Another excuse from Reid’s camp, that the homophobic slurs were written by an imposter, also failed the evidence test after Poulsen’s investigation. A claim that Reid was on the radio when some of the controversial posts were published and the notion that homophobic slurs had different punctuation than most of Reid’s published work didn’t check out, either.
“The Daily Beast compared scores of disputed and undisputed posts and could not discern any such anomalies,” Poulsen wrote.
Reid apologized last December when a group of old blog posts — unearthed by a Twitter user and reported by Mediaite -- came to light. Less than five months later, Reid blamed hackers when a new batch of decade-old homophobic slurs were unearthed.
It’s easy to see why Reid would want to distance herself from the offensive posts, as Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s most-watched host and cash cow, is openly gay. The Reid Report reportedly mocked the sexuality of her now-superstar colleague in addition to a variety of other remarks that don’t coincide with MSNBC’s progressive values.
The nightmare week for the Peacock Network also included NBC News legend Tom Brokaw being accused of sexual misconduct and a far-from-flattering Wall Street Journal deep dive into the network’s expensive gamble on Megyn Kelly.
Ironically, the Brokaw allegations could save Reid if the network doesn’t take action on the former “NBC Nightly News” anchor. NBC News chairman Andy Lack has remained silent on the Brokaw and Reid situations and has been criticized for a lack of transparency amid a series of sexual harassment.
“How can they fire a black woman for some insensitive comments she made years ago when they keep on board a millionaire white male sexual predator and the white male executives who’ve enabled people like him?” an NBC insider posited to Fox News.
However, keeping her cushy gig could be the least of Reid’s problems. Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said the MSNBC host “could be in very serious trouble” if she made up the story about hackers planting the anti-gay blog posts because the FBI is involved.
“We have received confirmation the FBI has opened an investigation into potential criminal activities surrounding several online accounts, including personal email and blog accounts, belonging to Joy-Ann Reid,” Reid’s attorney, John H. Reichman, told The Daily Beast on Wednesday.
If it turns out that Reid lied, she could even be charged with obstruction of justice for “diverting the FBI’s attention from real crime fighting to fighting a phantom crime,” Napolitano said.
“It’s possible that in the end Reid will discover her adversary isn’t a determined hacker, but a far more dogged foe: The Joy-Ann Reid of years past, writing in a voice she can no longer recognize as her own."
It appears that her Daily Beast colleague thinks she did, indeed, lie.
“It’s possible that in the end Reid will discover her adversary isn’t a determined hacker, but a far more dogged foe: The Joy-Ann Reid of years past, writing in a voice she can no longer recognize as her own,” Poulsen wrote.
MSNBC and NBC News did not respond to multiple requests for comment.