MSNBC host Joy Reid apologized – again – for a series of old blog posts that questioned Israel’s sovereignty, suggested the government was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and had the head of Sen. John McCain digitally edited onto an image of the Virginia Tech school shooter.
Reid’s statement, issued Friday, appeared to be an effort to head off critics who called for NBC News fire her after more of her decade-old posts came to light this week. The posts offended some people and were at odds with some of the liberal positions that Reid typically espouses on her weekend program, “AM Joy.”
MSNBC on Friday broke two days of silence and issued a statement in support of Reid. People at the network said she will host her program as scheduled on Saturday.
In her statement, Reid said, “There are things I deeply regret and am embarrassed by (in her blog), things I would have said differently and issues where my position has changed. Today I’m sincerely apologizing again.”
She added, “I’m sorry for the collateral damage and pain this is causing individuals and communities caught in the crossfire. … I’ve also spoken openly about my evolution on many issues and know that I’m a better person today than I was over a decade ago.”
In particular, Reid repudiated comments she made in 2006 that echoed a discredited conspiracy theory that the federal government was behind the terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York and Washington.
She had linked to a video popular among “truther” conspiracists, called “Loose Change 9/11,” and asked, “The fundamental question is: do you believe the official story of 9/11? … Even if you’re agnostic, or you tend to believe that al-Qaida attacked the World Trade Center and Pentagon and that the government had no warning such a thing could happen, it’s worth taking a second look.”
In another post in 2005, she appeared to agree with then-Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Jews should be forced to move from Israel to a colony in Europe. “God is not a real estate broker,” Reid wrote in reference to Israel. “He can’t just give you land 1,000 years ago that you can come back and claim today.”
However, Reid said on Friday, “There is no question in my mind that al-Qaida perpetrated the 9/11 attacks or about Israel’s right to its sovereignty.”
She also backed away from a 2007 post in which McCain’s face appears on the body of Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 in a massacre at Virginia Tech. The post, uncovered by BuzzFeed News, discussed McCain’s promise during the 2007-08 presidential campaign to pursue Osama bin Laden, at the time a fugitive.
“To be clear,” Reid wrote, “I have the highest respect for Sen. McCain as a public servant and patriot and wish him and his family the best. I have reached out to Meghan McCain and will continue to do so. She is a former on-air colleague and I feel deeply for her and her family.”
As criticism of Reid mounted this week, MSNBC faced a delicate decision – whether to fire the only African-American woman to host her own show or to stand by her as controversies over Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee swirled at other networks.
After two days of internal deliberations, the network’s executives chose to side with Reid. “Some of the things written by Joy on her old blog are obviously hateful and hurtful,” MSNBC said in a statement. “They are not reflective of the colleague and friend we have known at MSNBC for the past seven years. Joy has apologized publicly and privately and said she has grown and evolved in the many years since, and we know this to be true.”
“I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things, because they are completely alien to me,” she said on her program last month. “But I can definitely understand, based on things I have tweeted and have written in the past, why some people don’t believe me. I’ve not been exempt from being dumb or cruel or hurtful to the very people I want to advocate for. I own that. I get it. And for that, I am truly, truly sorry.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Paul Farhi