Roseanne Barr vs. Joy Reid: When the Media Dumpster Dives

I hadn’t planned on writing another piece on the Joy Reid old weblog posts. I made the point that the Wayback Machine doesn’t guarantee authenticity, which too many people mistook to mean that I was undermining the Wayback Machine’s integrity. Then I made others unhappy when I agreed with the Daily Beast’s take that it was *unlikely Joy Reid’s posts were hacked.

Discussing the topic is just a lose/lose, and frankly, I felt it was much ado about nothing. Yes, nothing. Twelve year old weblog posts, published back in a time when we were all much more casual about our weblog writing  pales as a subject compared to, say, discovering that Hurricane Maria killed over 4,600 people in Puerto Rico.

But in the wake of the Roseanne Barr Twitter implosion, publications feel they have to find some form of ‘balanced’ news coverage, so they dumpster dived, yet again, into Reid’s weblog, which is back online at the Wayback Machine.

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The Daily Beast Investigation of Joy Reid’s Claims

The Daily Beast investigated the claims of Joy Reid’s ‘cyber expert’ and found that most could not be substantiated. I, myself, am less than enamored with Jonathan Nichol’s claims. For being an expert, he doesn’t seem to know very much.

And therein lies, I suspect, the seeds of this whole event: lots of writing over the years, memory, and bad tech advice.

At the end of the Daily Beast writeup, Kevin Poulson wrote:

If she wasn’t hacked, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Reid is lying. Her decision to hire a security consultant to investigate the posts, and a lawyer to demand the access logs for her blog account, suggests she genuinely believes at least some of the posts were planted. After 12 years and tens of thousands of written words, Reid simply may not remember.

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.

I’ll have more to say in a later piece on what it means to be a writer putting yourself online, especially over the years. For now, I think that the Daily Beast has an accurate read on what’s happened.

I’ve had considerable pushback on Twitter related to my writing about Reid, the Wayback Machine, and authenticity. What I find ironic is that so many who condemn Reid the loudest post anonymously on Twitter. They want to hold Reid accountable for her past writing, while they, themselves, hide behind a bush.

In the meantime, Library of Congress has a backup of some (not all) of Reid’s past posts. BernieBros and the far right gleefully pick and choose snippets they can post in the most damning light, but if you want to know the Reid of long ago, you need to read all of her writing. Then maybe you’ll drop that stone you hold so easily in your hand.

 

The Joy Reid Saga: The Wayback Machine cannot guarantee authenticity

Recently, Mediaite posted screen shots captured by a Twitter user who goes by the name of Not a Bot that seemingly showed several homophobic comments made on a now defunct weblog by MSNBC’s Joy Ann Reid. Reid replied that her weblog had been hacked and several articles modified by unknown parties. The media has responded by digging up an apology Reid made late last year about homophobic comments she had made in the past, which seemingly contradicts her claim of being hacked.

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Updated: Vanity Fair demonstrates how to become the most hated publication in America

Vanity Fair decided to do a year-end video dedicated to Hillary Clinton.

It has not gone over well.

I particularly liked pushing the stereotype of women in technology. That was a nice touch.

One of the Hive editors, before she took her Twitter account private, expressed resentment that the video was taken out of context, as it was part of a series. What she and the others don’t seem to realize is that the other targets of a not-especially-funny set of videos are all still public servants. As such, they can expect to be the focus of year-end zingers.

More importantly, it wasn’t all that long ago when Time magazine featured women on its cover, and in a completely different context. How absolutely tone deaf can the Vanity Fair crew be to follow that elegant and profound piece with, at best, a juvenile, snarky piece targeting our country’s first woman Presidential candidate?

Even if you don’t care for Clinton, hell even if you voted for Trump, seeing six smug young people condescendingly telling a former Senator, Secretary of State, and Presidential candidate to take up knitting should piss you off. Not unless you’re the worst misogynist in the nation.

Donald Trump will love it.

Enjoy those magazine cancellations, Vanity Fair. Maybe with all that free time, you can take up crocheting. Or learning humility.

Update:

NYLON’s Sara Beauchamp writes about the backlash to the Vanity Fair video:

So next time you read a headline or watch a video that’s being quote-tweeted like crazy, before you’re quick to react, stop to consider what you’re getting outraged about. Look into the context before you join the pile on, because there are real people on the other end of our internet outrage. And, especially if they’re a woman, it’s important to remember that they’re already going through enough online, so maybe don’t make it worse.

I haven’t seen any tweets reflecting the editor’s weight, which is the backlash NYLON is responding to. If there are, then these need to be deleted.

However, the Vanity Fair people are professionals. They’re also adults. They’re learning about having to accept the consequences of their actions. If they’re feeling hurt about attacks against them, they might want to consider their attack against private citizen Hillary Clinton, particularly after years of Clinton being bashed the the media.

So no, they earned this pile-on. Best they just suck it up.

Wanting Content, Publications on the Far-Left Easily Duped by Alice Donovan

The Washington Post published an in-depth piece about Putin’s misinformation campaign that impacted on the 2016 Presidential campaign. In it they mentioned a writer going by the name of Alice Donovan. Rather than the ‘beginning freelance writer’ this Donovan claimed to be, the individual was a fake, a contrived persona, and a source of misinformation.

Donovan duped several far-left sites into publishing ‘her’ material. CounterPunch danced all around the issue in its effort to excuse it’s lax vetting. Ultimately, it accepted some blame…after first blaming the FBI.

If the FBI was so worried about the risks posed by Alice Donovan’s false persona, they could have tipped off some of the media outlets she was corresponding with. But in this case they refrained for nearly two years. Perhaps they concluded that Donovan was the hapless and ineffectual persona she appears to be. More likely, they wanted to continue tracking her. But they couldn’t do that without also snooping on American journalists and that represents an icy intrusion on the First Amendment. For a free press to function, journalists need to be free to communicate with whomever they want, without fear that their exchanges are being monitored by federal agencies. A free press needs to be free to make mistakes and learn from them. We did.

No, CounterPunch, you don’t get off that easy. In your effort to continuously publish, you accepted work from a ‘journalist’ whose only qualification seems to be they’ll allow you to publish their work without being paid.

Online writers don’t have to publish under their own name, but if so-called ‘news’ sites want to be treated credibly, they have to know the actual person submitting the work. They have to vet not only the sources of the news they print, but the people writing the stories.

Another far left group, We are Change, also published Donovan’s work. It scrubbed her stories from their site, but you can see them in the Wayback Machine.

By scrubbing Donovan’s stories it would seem as if We Are Change is acknowledging its errors in spreading misinformation. But what’s We Are Change NYC’s lead tweet today? A link to a 2016 piece attacking Hillary Clinton using unproven information that lacked any vetting.

What’s in one of its lead stories? A video claiming that Clinton is in hot water over Uranium One. This, even though this story was debunked. And among the sources for the video is RT, a well known Russian propaganda organization.

For all of our valid criticism of mainstream media—in particular its obsessiveness with ‘both sides’—most of its members flatly acknowledge when they screwed up. And they promise to do better.

Sites like CounterPunch and We Are Change need to do the same.