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.

34 thoughts on “OWN GOALS”

  • It would be possible for me to listen respectfully to Joy Reid's telecast knowing that, even now, she is personally revolted by the sight of "men kissing." Or, alternatively, heterosexuals kissing. So long as I know her limits, and that the subject of most of her programs is not about sexuality or sexual preference, I will be fine. There would always be an asterisk next to her opinions and information, but if those opinions and information can stand on their own, my watching would be worthwhile. One must evaluate ideas for their own sake in any case, yes?

  • Even the things she said, for the most, part aren't that heinous – just tone-deaf as you pointed out. I can totally understand ick factors when it involves watching other people having sex. This is why I don't try to visualize parents or not-hot people having sex or go searching for lemon party; actually I don't try to visualize people having sex in general unless I'm watching porn or hooking up – so the obsession about it comes across as some sort of self-repression or virtue signaling. She was also slower to "evolve" than most and was fine with the status quo – which is probably a good indicator that she has no gay friends.

    Ultimately when people find themselves in a hole, they need to first stop digging and that is not what she's doing. So I'm just going to enjoy my popcorn while I watch the shitshow.

  • Well, you'll probably have to end up apologizing at some point for the original name of the Lieberman award. But the good news is, having to apologize for it will mean that you've become important enough to make it necessary. I'd call that, if nothing else, the ultimate incentive to express regret: having to do so retroactively confers significance.

  • Emerson Dameron says:

    Barack Obama was personally opposed to gay marriage in 2008. We've come a hell of a long way on that issue in a very short time, which most thoughtful people appreciate.

    Plus, this is the anti-Trump #Resistance we're talking about. It's hard to do good purity testing when you've already recruited, at various times, George W. Bush, Bob Corker, and every #NeverTrump neocon ghoul you can find.

    Joy Reid seems to be a stupid person who assumes everyone else is as ignorant about the internet as she is, and that things will get better soon if you just keep lying. At least one of those things isn't true.

  • Aardvark Cheeselog says:

    > see yourself as essentially flawless and incapable of error.

    I think this describes most people pretty accurately. The ability to admit error, apologize, and mean it seems to be very unevenly distributed, and quite rare among persons of national prominence.

  • terraformer says:

    I generally like Joy Reid. She's one of the few "news" personalities that doesn't take shit from interviewees, and comes armed with knowledge of the subject matter and pushes back when folks lie or obfuscate. I visit her Twitter feed every day, and there are links to stories and other items that are often the first time I've heard about them. I consider her "one of the good" people, at least in terms of politics and worldview.

    That said, I am surprised by this. I am surprised that not only she thought that way (or still does?), but apparently also because she doesn't seem to recognize that her excuses are making it worse (or shorter, everything Ed wrote about it above). Kind of amazed, really.

  • I don't think Ed will ever have to apologize for The Lieberman Award. He may have to trademark it, in fact.

  • Or, you know, like Franken, you get dunked right out of office and into the round file cabinet by a frothing mob of purists who need to see someone, anyone, burned at the stake right this goddamn minute. As it turns out, the easiest mark is always the one that apologizes first while the liars get to laugh for another day when the times are as they are. Otherwise, on principle, yeah, I have to agree. It's better to actually grow your mind and apologize for stuff like this from when you weren't quite so worldly. It's a shame that's such a rare skill these days.

  • Mike Furlan says:

    "Or, you know, like Franken, you get dunked right out of office and into the round file cabinet by a frothing mob of purists who need to see someone, anyone, burned at the stake right this goddamn minute."

    Franken is gone, his public life over. While Trump is still President, and will likely be reelected in 2020. Trump is vile, and lies about everything all the time without any an penalty in the least.

    However, it would be a better world where everybody did what Al Franken did, and where Joy Reid would apologize honestly or resign. Really, there is life outside the Senate, or MSNBC. Character should matter more than career.

  • This strikes me like a pile on.

    Joy has apologized for some posts, which are much less anti-gay than the ones suddenly noticed.

    Those posts have comments on them.

    The newly discovered ones do not.

    People familiar with her work for the last umpteen years don't recall reading anything like it at the time, and are surprised that those posts would have no comments.

    How about waiting till there's some actual computer forensics done on this so it's possible to evaluate whether maybe she's telling the truth when she says she was hacked?

    She's a very strong and loud voice on the side of truth and justice, and if there's a hallmark to the Putinesque shit-stirring we contend with, it's that it is always aimed at splitting up the opposition. Destroying her legitimacy is a big step in that direction.

    If it deserves to be destroyed, that's one thing. But I, for one, am going to be disappointed in this blog and Ed if you descend to helping trolls ahead of the evidence.

  • Both Sides Do It says:

    Joy Reid is engaged in a long twilight struggle against Bernie Bros, the only weapon against whom (since she can't critique them on policy or politics) is personal statements.

    The dynamics of that fight is to say "we can't trust you because of your past personal statements". If the possibility exists for them to sincerely apologize, be forgiven and be trusted again, her position collapses. "We can trust you if you sincerely apologize" leads to sincere apologies leads to Joy Reid having to critique people on her left on policy / political grounds, which she can't do.

    She knows what she's doing.

  • @Aero—

    It’s true; lying your balls off pays and having a conscience has never gotten anyone anywhere in politics or punditry. Every time Trump opens his mouth, a turd falls out and he is NEVER held accountable. It’s cable fucking news—nobody gives a shit whether it’s true or not. All you have to do is repeat it until it becomes true.

  • Ed, you should watch your white, upper middle class, male privilege. It oozes out sometimes and sabotages your logic.

    For an interesting counterpoint, here is a link.

    I have no idea who Luke Savage is, but comparing Joy Reid to Fox News is absurd. He sounds like someone who is intimidated by a smart, black, middle-aged, quick-witted woman and has to attack women to compensate for his inadequacies and insecurities.

  • Intro. Fade In.

    Marty is skate-boarding home from school.

    Dolorean, covered in faded DNC stickers, blazes in from thin air right behind him.

    Doc jumps out, yelling.

    "The Russian are at it again Marty! They've gone back in time and sabotaged another centrist! Will these dastardly Reds never give up?"

    Marty turns around, surprised.

    "But Doc, I have to go to prom with someone other than my mother! And besides, didn't we defeat the Russians in the Cold War?"

    "No Marty. The Russians are back, they're everywhere, and they're more Communist than ever. But we're gotta stop them, with this!"

    Doc holds out something that looks like a dirty napkin with the words "Mueller Time" scribbled on it.

    As Marty squints at it, Doc pulls him into the car and revs the engine. The flux capacitor glows orange and the scene fades into catchy 80's music and the title screen:

    Back to the Future IV: Putin it in яeverse

  • Both Sides Do It says:

    She has tweets contemporaneous to the disputed blogposts that rehash some of the same lines. This weak "can't prove it *didn't* happen you privledged non-woke white male" mush is not going to cut it.

    Also, like, she is mediocre? And watching her / reading her twitter for analytic content is a complete waste of time?

    If someone wants to point to links / info they get from her twitter or show they think is worthwhile I can provide other people / sources that go into the same stuff who are better

  • Genuine humility and sincere apology require rare courage.
    Also, anyone with an extended body of written work repeats some degree of shop worn themes along with cringe worthy gaffs (and worse). The ability to admit mistakes and move forward shows some mark of maturity and wisdom.
    Apropos of nothing or everything, I occasionally tell my ex that having compassion for her would be a lot easier if she ever apologized and exhibited some humility. Remorse, maybe.
    Don't know Joy Reid from shoe leather, but sounds like she needs a new sole. (Oh, god, forgive me that.)

  • @Emerson Dameron: Pretty good read. It's really not that hard to admit you were wrong and pledge to be better in the future. Further down the page there's a piece about a coach who wants to castrate a bull but decides to cut a mouse's balls instead. Which reminds me I need to track down some old-school computer mice with balls for a colleague's art project. Funny world.

  • defineandredefine says:

    "…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."

    Ladies and Gentleman, Mr Bill Maher.

  • I have friends who are gay, but I admit I don't like seeing men kiss. I don't like seeing women kiss, as Britney and Madonna did in their show. In general I don't like what the Thai law used to call Public Displays of Affection. I wouldn't dream of telling them so, though, if two of my friends chose to kiss in public. I've never watched Joy Reid's show, but I suspect that if I did I would come to dislike her as I've come to dislike Rachel Maddow. These people are so attached to their ginormous salaries and the public adulation they get that they are as corrupt as Jamie Dimon. If Ms. Reid would just say, "Yes, it was wrong of me to make a public statement like that, and I'm heartily sorry." It should have been enough (probably not in this polarized culture). She has now made it a cause celebre that won't go away for two or three news cycles.

  • @Both Sides; thanks for putting your finger on the real issue: Joy Reid calls out people on their bullshit, including (duh-duh-DUHHH!) the most wonderfullest and specialist and most perfectest SAINT BERNIE!!!! (wooooooo). A certain segment of the population is outraged by this and Reid must be made to PAY for it.

  • "I don't try to visualize people having sex in general unless I'm watching porn or hooking up"

    Please don't say things like that.

    I often make reference to a "friend" who has really serious kink (or, so it seems to a mid-western naif like myself) and I don't want people to think that you are THAT friend.

    I DO want them to think it might be Carrstone.

  • PrairieBear says:

    Not very much of a Joy Reid fan — don't love her; don't hate her, and I'm also a gay man. But this stuff seems like awfully weak beer as far as homophobia goes. I know that "taken out of context" has become one of the biggest BS excuses people throw out there for these things, but it can actually matter. One thing that I think is interesting about this is that we aren't being given access to the full content of the original articles. Some guy found them and gave them to Mediaite and it's little snippets interspersed with their characterization of the material.

    The thing about men kissing seems to be part of a discussion about straight people's feelings about same-sex PDAs. That is a real thing in the world and a worthy topic of discussion. The Crist comments sound tacky, but I seem to remember a fair amount of lefty snark and insinuation surrounding Crist before he was married. Can't remember right now from whom, specifically.

    I think you're right about the apology idea, though. It worked fine for Cenk Uygur and the whole thing was barely even a speed bump. Justice Democrats kicked him off their board; big deal.

  • "The Crist comments sound tacky, but I seem to remember a fair amount of lefty snark and insinuation surrounding Crist before he was married."

    Don't know if Crist is gay or not. I know that he's a guy who rode bigotry and hatred to the top and then decided to switch horses. Fuck him.

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