MSNBC’s Joy Reid issued a bizarre non-apology over the weekend for a newly-discovered rash of homophobic posts on her old blog. “I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things because they are completely alien to me,” Reid said. “But I can definitely understand, based on things I have tweeted and I have written in the past, why some people don’t believe me.”
Well … yes. Reid already apologized last December for similar posts and tweets, so anyone can understand why people might disbelieve that such comments are “completely alien” to her. The Daily Beast, which has suspended Reid, reports her claim that the blog was hacked crumbled upon investigation (as did CNN). And the webzine seems unimpressed with her flip from the hacking claim to sudden amnesia.
MSNBC is not saying anything about Reid’s fate publicly yet. David Shuster, citing his former colleagues there, reports NBC News management is certain the hacking claim is a lie, but decided not to fire her because they previously retained the fabulist Brian Williams at MSNBC.
NPR’s David Folkenflik reports that unofficially, MSNBC execs thought Reid’s apology went well and note the outpouring of support for her (even if that support often took the form of attacking the media and changing the subject).
It also helps Reid that dozens of women at NBC spontaneously decided to defend the network’s figurehead, Tom Brokaw, against accusations of sexual harassment. Had MSNBC fired Reid while backing two old white men, one could have expected howls of protest from the intersectional left over the unfair treatment of an African-American woman.
Nevertheless, the cultish denialism of Reid’s supporters in the face of an obvious falsehood and the soft treatment afforded her still surprises some. This surprise is a function of the degree to which progressivism, increasingly consumed by identity politics, has succeeded in projecting a false identity.
The reality is that many on the left do not care much whether Reid is being honest about her blog postings or what her true thoughts on LGBTQ issues are — but they cannot admit it publicly.
The operational rule of American progressivism was explained by Jeffrey Goldberg when he fired Kevin Williamson from The Atlantic for his views on abortion. When Williamson objected to Goldberg that The Atlantic had a history of publishing provocative writers like the late Christopher Hitchens, Goldberg replied, “Yes. But Hitchens was in the family. You are not.”
Many have remarked on the tribalism embodied in that response. More significantly, it is tribalism in the service of enforcing the ugliest sort of double-standard. The rules are simply different for those “in the family.”
Are tens of congressional Democrats cozy with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, one of America’s most well known racists and anti-Semites? Are leaders of the Women’s March fans of this preacher of hate (and homophobe)? If you’re “in the family,” The Atlantic will publish a long, condescending article explaining what a conundrum the soft bigotry of low expectations can be.
Is the progressives’ anti-Israel boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement fomenting anti-Semitism at American colleges and universities? If you’re “in the family,” the New York Times will run an op-ed admitting it, but dismissing it as “a loud and obnoxious minority.” In contrast, the media generally blamed the Tea Party for the acts of every crank who attended a rally.
Do limousine liberals on NYC’s Upper West Side rage against desegregating their local schools? They’re “in the family,” so it is not the national story it would be if set in Charlottesville or Birmingham. When an incident like this involved Samantha Bee’s husband, Snopes rationalized his urging people to avoid the media and his claim that the opponents are not racist (which may be true, but few could imagine progressives extending the same charity to flyover country).
Was Sen. Al Franken accused of sexual misconduct by several women? He was “in the family,” so NYT columnist Michelle Goldberg called for his resignation, only to second-guess herself a few days later, because Franken was a useful “ally” in the Senate.
This is in the grand tradition of tolerating Sen. Ted Kennedy, forgiven by feminists for after he became pro-choice on abortion. And Pres. Clinton, whom feminists backed during the Lewinsky scandal. Time reporter Nina Burleigh infamously offered to service Bill in the same manner Monica did. Now that’s “family.”
Of course, these misogynists might be criticized once they are dead or politically irrelevant. Otherwise, as in the case of Rep. John Conyers, “the family” will view a progressive creep’s status as a “civil rights icon” to be a mitigating factor, not an aggravating one. The “family” never sees it that way for social conservatives in sex scandals.
Do Senate Democrats seem to give minority GOP nominees especially harsh opposition, from Clarence Thomas to Miguel Estrada to Richard Grenell? Do they seem to be trying to impose a religious test for office in violation of their oaths to support the Constitution? If you’re “in the family,” the response is like the robots on HBO’s Westworld being shown photos of the real world: “It doesn’t look like anything to me.”
The progressive record crashes headlong into their core identity: that they are good and tolerant and victims, while everyone else is a bigot and an oppressor. So many progressives pretend that record does not exist.
Indeed, many on the left were once content to claim they were only intolerant of intolerance, but now deny that the anti-free-speech movement on campuses is significant (spoiler: It is; it really is). And they look the other way while maintaining their “alliances” with intolerant bigots of various stripes.
Some of you may be asking, “But what about the Right?” Of course there are similar examples on the Right. That is not an excuse for a double-standard for how those examples are treated by the progressive left and the establishment institutions they dominate.
Joy Reid lies to herself or others about her past or present opinions on LGBTQ people and issues. If she’s mouthing today’s operative talking points, how can progressives possibly care? She’s not doing anything they have not already been doing for years.