Metro Weekly

MSNBC host Joy Reid apologizes for mocking Charlie Crist’s sexuality

MSNBC commentator and political blogger says her posts were "insensitive, tone deaf and dumb"

Joy Reid – Photo: NBC Universal.

MSNBC host Joy Reid has apologized for a series of blog posts poking fun at Congressman Charlie Crist’s sexuality.

Reid’s posts, which she wrote between 2007 and 2009, have been criticized as “homophobic” and “anti-gay.”

“This note is my apology to all who are disappointed by the content of blogs I wrote a decade ago, for which my choice of words and tone have legitimately been criticized,” Reid said in a statement shared with NBC News. “Among the frequent subjects of my posts was then-governor Charlie Crist, at the time a conservative Republican, whose positions on issues like gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples in Florida shared headlines with widely rumored reports that he was hiding his sexual orientation.

“At no time have I intentionally sought to demean or harm the LGBT community, which includes people whom I deeply love,” Reid added. “My goal, in my ham-handed way, was to call out potential hypocrisy.”

In the blog posts, Reid, at the time a morning talk radio host and Florida political blogger, referred to Crist as “Miss Charlie” and speculated that his 2008 marriage to a woman was fraudulent and a way to make him a palatable choice as Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.

The blog posts were unearthed on Thursday by Twitter user @Jamie_Maz, who found the old posts via the Wayback Machine internet archive.

“From 2007 to 2009 @joyannreid authored a dozen homophobic posts not only attempting to out Charlie Crist as gay, she attacked & mocked him for being so,” @Jamie_Maz wrote in the first of a series of nine tweets about Reid.

Crist, a Republican-turned Democrat who once served as Florida’s Education Commissioner, Attorney General, and governor from 2001 to 2011, supported a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, which Florida voters approved in 2008.

After switching parties (first as an independent for his 2010 failed U.S. Senate run, and then as a Democrat), Crist later apologized for supporting the amendment. According to Politifact, he has maintained that he has always supported civil unions throughout his career, but opposed gay marriage, a stance he later publicly reversed in 2013.

Reid has been harshly criticized on Twitter for the comments, with some calling for her to resign from her position with MSNBC.

However, some other Twitter users appeared to be more critical of Reid for what they perceive as her negative coverage of former presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, even going so far as to hijack threads about Reid’s blog posts to engage in side-debates over Sanders’ future political prospects.

Noting this pattern of behavior, one Twitter user, @thermodynamic, wrote: “Gotta love that rage from #Bernie dead enders is driven more by Joy’s hostility to the Sanders mythology & less about her clearly homophobic past practice.”

The topic of outing potentially closeted anti-gay politicians has always been a political minefield.

In the past, more liberal activists argued that it was okay to out anti-gay politicians who sought to hide their orientation while also pushing measures that would harm other LGBTQ people. Conversely, LGBTQ Republicans and conservatives claimed that outing was never okay.

Nowadays, outing is generally discouraged by people on both sides of the political spectrum.

The 2009 film Outrage, which profiled efforts to expose the hypocrisy of closeted politicians, stirred much internal debate among LGBTQ people over the politics of outing. Interestingly, Crist was one of the politicians mentioned in the film.

In her apology, Reid called her posts “insensitive, tone deaf and dumb,” apologizing to her co-workers, viewers of her A.M. Joy weekend program on MSNBC, and to Crist.

“My critique of anti-LGBT positions he once held but has since abandoned was legitimate in my view. My means of critiquing were not,” Reid said. “Re-reading those old blog posts, I am disappointed in myself. I apologize to those who also are disappointed in me. Life can be humbling. It often is. But I hope that you know where my heart is, and that I will always strive to use my words for good. I know better and I will do better.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com