BREAKING NEWS Mayor Tommy Battle announces death of Eula Battle, Huntsville's first lady Full Story

MSNBC pushes findings that support Joy Reid's claim of fabricated homophobic blog posts

MSNBC host Joy Reid this week employed the same excuse as so many other public figures who have been embarrassed by ...

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 12:23 PM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 12:23 PM

MSNBC host Joy Reid this week employed the same excuse as so many other public figures who have been embarrassed by something they had written online: she said she was hacked.

But after widespread skepticism regarding her claims, Reid and her employer went further than most of those humiliated celebrities, providing analysis from her own cybersecurity consultant, who said that old, homophobic posts that appeared to have been published on Reid's now-shuttered blog were indeed the result of nefarious activity.

Reid, a liberal pundit who hosts a program every weekend on MSNBC, said Monday that a number of posts unearthed by a Twitter user were placed online by an "external party."

The claim was met with immediate and widespread skepticism; the doubt shifted to derision on Tuesday afternoon, when a representative for the Wayback Machine, a digital archive that stores old content, said that a review "found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions."

The backlash grew so severe that an LGBTQ advocacy group, PFLAG National, announced that it was rescinding an award it intended to give to Reid next month.

But on Tuesday night, a spokeswoman for MSNBC shared several documents with CNNMoney, including a statement from an independent security consultant named Jonathan Nichols, who said he has "significant evidence" that some of the recently circulated posts are bogus.

In his statement, Nichols said that he "discovered that login information used to access the blog was available on the Dark Web and that fraudulent entries -- featuring offensive statements -- were entered with suspicious formatting and time stamps."

"At no time has Ms. Reid claimed that the Wayback Machine was hacked, though early in our investigation, we were made aware of a breach at archive.org which may have correlated with the fraudulent blog posts we observed on their website," Nichols said. "We simply wanted to ascertain whether that breach was related to the compromising of Ms. Reid's blog."

He pointed out that the inflammatory blog entries in question didn't have reader comments. "If those posts were real, they would have undoubtedly elicited responses from Ms. Reid's base," he wrote.

The MSNBC spokesperson also provided letters sent in December from Reid's attorney to Alphabet, the parent company of Google, which owned the site on which Reid's blog was hosted at the time of the disputed posts, and Internet Archive, which runs the Wayback Machine, to alert the companies of the alleged hacking. CNNMoney has reached out to Alphabet for comment. The MSNBC spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up inquiry regarding Alphabet's response.

Nichols said that many of the posts in question were published at a time when Reid was hosting a radio show, and that the "text and visual styling was inconsistent with her original entries."

He added that "some of the recently circulated posts were not even on the site at any time, suggesting that these instances may be the result of screenshot manipulation."

Reid's attorney, John H. Reichman, highlighted what he said was another discrepancy in his letters to the companies, pointing out that Reid published posts on January 10, 2006 about the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito at 10:18 a.m., 11:34 a.m. and 11:41 a.m., but that the archive showed what Reichman described as a "lengthy, fraudulent entry" at 11:28 a.m.

"Ms. Reid did not have the superhuman blogging skills needed to do all of these posts simultaneously," Reichman wrote.

A Library of Congress archive of the site shows that the "lengthy" entry contains only two sentences of text actually written by the post's author; the rest is a quote.

The Library of Congress archive reviewed by CNNMoney -- which the Library says is created using a local installation of the Wayback Machine -- contains the disputed posts and lists them as having been archived on January 12, 2006. The documents provided by MSNBC to CNNMoney do not contain a letter to the Library of Congress regarding its archive.

In his letter to Internet Archive, Reichman demanded that the site provide "the information needed to determine how the fraudulent posts came to be included in the archived posts." He asked Alphabet for "immediate assistance in determining how, when and by whom the Blog was hacked and the fraudulent posts entered."

The controversy, one of the strangest in recent memory to ensnare a media personality, began Monday, when Mediaite reported on the blog posts, many of which contained homophobic sentiments. In one, the author wrote "most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing," and that it is in the "intrinsic nature" of straight people to find homosexual sex "gross."

Reid told Mediaite in a statement that she "began working with a cyber-security expert who first identified the unauthorized activity," and that she "notified federal law enforcement officials of the breach."

The claim was met with plenty of skepticism, at least in part because Reid had already apologized in December for other years-old anti-gay posts that appeared on the blog, which were found by the same Twitter user, @Jamie_Maz, who also unearthed this week's posts through the Wayback Machine.

It didn't help Reid's credibility when the representative for the Wayback Machine rebutted her claim on Tuesday afternoon.

"When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions," wrote Chris Butler on the Wayback Machine's blog. "At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities."

Butler said "the point at which the manipulation is to have occurred, according to Reid, is still unclear to us," and that he and his colleagues "let Reid's lawyers know that the information provided was not sufficient for us to verify claims of manipulation."

"Consequently, and due to Reid's being a journalist (a very high-profile one, at that) and the journalistic nature of the blog archives, we declined to take down the archives," Butler wrote. "We were clear that we would welcome and consider any further information that they could provide us to support their claims."

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
79° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 80°
Florence
Overcast
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 80°
Fayetteville
Overcast
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 75°
Decatur
Overcast
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Scottsboro
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22400372
Mobile14282314
Tuscaloosa9983132
Montgomery9691196
Madison899992
Shelby703560
Lee643966
Baldwin637567
Marshall426748
Calhoun410259
Etowah402049
Morgan394532
Houston363132
DeKalb316727
Elmore309552
St. Clair279742
Limestone269227
Walker268092
Talladega255034
Cullman225823
Lauderdale206340
Autauga199928
Franklin199131
Jackson199114
Colbert190627
Russell19023
Dallas185227
Blount183823
Chilton180531
Escambia170928
Covington164729
Coffee16409
Dale162551
Pike130212
Chambers127343
Tallapoosa127286
Clarke126716
Marion104229
Butler99840
Barbour9819
Marengo96721
Winston89913
Geneva8337
Pickens80317
Randolph79514
Lawrence79230
Bibb78913
Hale74529
Cherokee71514
Clay70712
Lowndes69927
Bullock63517
Henry6316
Monroe6279
Washington62112
Crenshaw59030
Perry5796
Wilcox55712
Conecuh55413
Fayette54712
Macon52919
Cleburne5247
Sumter46421
Lamar4575
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 232061

Reported Deaths: 2922
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby34370552
Davidson29801325
Knox1183387
Hamilton11097102
Rutherford11031106
Williamson661848
Sumner5636107
Wilson440253
Putnam411053
Montgomery385751
Out of TN379435
Unassigned37653
Madison361378
Bradley340821
Sullivan318844
Sevier314920
Blount310231
Washington308043
Maury307435
Robertson248539
Hamblen232743
Tipton219222
Gibson205437
Dyer202326
Hardeman178732
Coffee176020
Trousdale17407
Obion163617
Bedford159020
Dickson156218
Wayne15607
Greene155650
Anderson155513
Loudon154010
Fayette152022
McMinn150832
Cumberland148924
Lawrence146217
Jefferson145818
Weakley143425
Carter141532
Henderson135425
Monroe134823
Warren13399
Hardin131319
Lauderdale130818
Macon125724
Franklin121115
Haywood119025
Roane11857
Overton111211
Johnson11046
Hawkins109923
Carroll109324
McNairy108825
White107614
Marshall10528
Rhea104816
Cheatham96911
Lake9683
Smith93313
Bledsoe9244
Cocke92212
Giles89234
Campbell8647
Fentress8497
Lincoln8012
Crockett76620
Henry74110
Hickman73913
Chester71214
Marion6999
DeKalb67216
Decatur62511
Grainger5314
Grundy5168
Claiborne4956
Union4932
Polk46913
Jackson4165
Humphreys4094
Morgan4086
Houston38914
Benton3879
Cannon3862
Unicoi3641
Clay36312
Lewis3502
Sequatchie3294
Scott3244
Stewart3087
Meigs2944
Moore2452
Pickett2445
Perry2041
Van Buren1911
Hancock1123

Community Events