Sometimes, strictly as a mental exercise, I try to figure out how many words I've barfed onto the internet in my life. I've been doing this regularly since, oh, 2002 and had irregular and very 90s things prior to that (remember having a "personal website"?). Add in social media and it has to be in seven figures. The output isn't overwhelming but it's consistent over a long period of time. As a rule I don't go back and re-read things from years ago. If I did, and on the rare occasions that something from the Deep Archive is brought to my attention, usually my thoughts haven't changed too much. But sometimes I read things and cringe a little on the inside. There are things I would express differently, and a few things I would express not at all, compared to Ed from 2004.
Luckily I never went through a white supremacist or "I hate the gays" phase, so there's nothing agonizingly awful that I would feel compelled to apologize for. If there were, though, and when I see things from the past that I would say differently now, there is only one effective way to deal with it: apologize. Apologize and mean it. Everyone is going to find things they said (in writing or otherwise) from 10, 15, or 20 years ago and realize that some combination of personal growth and changing mores combine to make it seem dated and inappropriate now. If you think that's not true in your case, there is an outstanding chance that you're lying to yourself and even greater a chance that you're dangerously narcissistic and see yourself as essentially flawless and incapable of error.
The Joy Reid fiasco is interesting to me not because I give a shit about Joy Reid – Luke Savage once accurately described her as "Fox News for liberals" – but because I will forever be fascinated by people who find themselves in this embarrassing situation and are constitutionally incapable of…not making it worse. Like, the worst possible reaction is to stand by what you said and insist that it is right when it clearly is wrong. The second-worst possible reaction is to pretend that you didn't say it and make up some sort of half-assed, totally implausible story about how someone must have hacked the internet archive because you are a flawless and perfect person who could never say anything that was not awesomely Woke.
A person who can't apologize is a narcissist at best and a sociopath at worst. How hard would it be, for example, for someone like Reid to say:
I look back on these statements from 2007 with intense shame. I apologize sincerely and unconditionally for the damaging, tone-deaf, and malicious things I said on (insert date) in (insert post). These words were irresponsible and whatever I thought they were when I wrote them – clever, funny, 'edgy', provocative – I look back and feel nothing but embarrassment at how wrong and inconsiderate I was. In the future it will be my responsibility to demonstrate by words and actions that this is not the person I am anymore. I am sorry.
Look, people fuck up. This is a thing. I'm going to go out on a limb and assert that for anyone predisposed to like a person like Joy Reid – essentially anyone to the left of Glenn Beck on the political spectrum – that apology would suffice. We generally want to give people second chances. We want to see that they can own their mistakes, express sincere emotions and thoughts about them, and try to move forward. Yes, there are some people in the world who love a good dragging and are going to use any mistake Joy Reid makes to trash her for all eternity. But I don't need to tell you that there are countless examples of people in the public eye who have done shitty things – things much worse and shittier than Joy Reid, even – without being obliterated from the face of the Earth. Sincere humility and remorse can go a long way. My point is not "Say you're sorry and that makes everything ok and that's the end of it." My point is that if you at least try to express your remorse, on balance people who like you or are inclined to like you as a media personality are very likely to give you another chance.
Or, you know, you can claim that you were framed by the now ubiquitous "Russian hackers." You can concoct some obviously horseshit story and see which of your fans are drunk enough on the Kool Aid to swallow it. Fox News personalities do it all the time. You're in good company, Joy.