A nonprofit internet library on Tuesday challenged MSNBC host Joy Reid’s claim that someone added anti-gay material to an archived version of her now-defunct blog.
In a statement, the Internet Archive, which maintains a digital archive of websites called the Wayback Machine, said that it had investigated the liberal commentator’s assertion in December 2017, following a request from her attorneys.
“When we reviewed the archives, we found nothing to indicate tampering or hacking of the Wayback Machine versions,” read the statement attributed to Internet Archive officer manager Chris Butler. “At least some of the examples of allegedly fraudulent posts provided to us had been archived at different dates and by different entities.”
Reid first publicly claimed that an “external actor” had “gained access to and manipulated” her old blog, called the Reid Report, in a statement to Mediaite Monday. According to the Internet Archive, Reid’s lawyers were unclear whether they believed the alteration had happened prior to the original site being taken down from the internet or within the Wayback Machine itself.
The newly surfaced posts, from 2005–2007, make reference to Anderson Cooper — who came out in 2012 — as “the gayest thing on TV,” state that “most straight people cringe at the sight of two men kissing,” and recount that the author was unable to attend Brokeback Mountain, a love story about two cowboys, because she “didn’t want to watch the two male characters having sex.”
In December, Reid apologized for a separate series of remarks on the Reid Report that were criticized as anti-gay.
The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web that researchers and journalists rely on for its snapshots of defunct websites and previous iterations of extant ones. Website owners can opt out of their content being captured by the Wayback Machine through what’s called the robots exclusion standard, or “robots.txt.”
According to the statement by the Internet Archive, “A robots.txt exclusion request specific to the Wayback Machine was placed on the live blog” of the Reid Report after its correspondence with Reid’s lawyer. “That request was automatically recognized and processed by the Wayback Machine and the blog archives were excluded, unbeknownst to us (the process is fully automated).”
Neither Reid nor MSNBC immediately returned requests for comment.
Joe Bernstein is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bernstein reports on and writes about the gaming industry and web culture.
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