MSNBC host Joy Reid, who’s been sharply criticized for homophobic language in her old blog, is no homophobe. I can say this with confidence as someone who has met her, interacted with her off-camera, and even discussed LGBT equality with her on MSNBC.
I know that in her heart of hearts, Reid does not have a shred of contempt for gay people today. But did she ever? Probably.
And could this compromise her journalistic integrity moving forward? The answer to that question remains to be seen.
Hints at what Reid’s future holds were on full display last Saturday when – flanked by a panel of LGBT supporters on her MSNBC show – she was praised by liberal activist Brandon Wolf.
Wolf shunted aside any criticism of Reid and instead turned his ire on Vice President Mike Pence – who no one claims had any involvement with Reid’s blog.
Wolf made this preposterous claim: “If Mike Pence, God bless him, ended up in the White House, sitting behind that desk in the Oval Office, he would have us all in concentration camps hoping to pray away the gay.”
Wolf’s hyperbolic comment went entirely unchallenged by Reid – and really, how could she challenge it? Reid is no longer in any position to question the opinion of any of her LGBT guests.
Reid offered an underwhelming apology for posts on her blog from a decade ago, which were critical of people who were gay or suspected of being gay. She stated: “I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things.”
But Reid was clearly walking on eggshells with her guests, all of whom were members of the LGBT community, and all of them Democrats.
People can change, and that’s a good thing. It’s one of the key goals of Log Cabin Republicans – the nation’s original and largest organization representing LGBT conservatives and straight allies who support fairness, freedom and equality for all Americans – where I serve as president.
If it was impossible to change the hearts and minds of Republicans on issues related to LGBT equality, we wouldn’t have made gains on marriage equality and non-discrimination legislation. Just this week, in the Republican-controlled state Senate, New Hampshire legislators passed a historic transgender non-discrimination law.
But changing the opinions of our fellow Americans on LGBT issues hasn’t been a challenge exclusive to Republicans. In 2006, the blog post Reid now claims was fabricated stated that “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing.” At the time, that was true – gay people knew that.
And therein lies the indication that Reid in all likelihood was the author of each of these newly unearthed archived blog posts. If someone was going to hack the Internet Archive, doctor old posts, and then leak them to a left-wing activist to post on Twitter in an elaborate attempt to smear Joy Reid, the hacker would have probably written something more inflammatory.
For example, a hacker out to really get Reid could write something like: “Gay people should be in concentration camps hoping to pray away the gay” and falsely claim Reid wrote such a hateful comment.
If you are Reid’s age or older, you came of age in a culture that wasn’t nearly as welcoming of the LGBT community as it is today. There is certainly still a lot of prejudice directed at the LGBT community today, but a lot less than in years past.
The entire controversy over Reid’s old blog could be a teachable moment about how Americans of all stripes – even journalists and liberals – have taken the journey from intolerance to love, or at least acceptance, of those who are LGBT.
Tortuous as it was, I know Joy Reid’s apology was sincere. Of far greater concern is how this needlessly protracted scandal will impact Reid’s coverage of LGBT issues in the future.
Will Reid be able to be an ally of the LGBT community while treating Republicans – many of whom are currently on the same journey she took over the past 12 years – fairly?