Born on December 8, 1968, Joy-Ann Reid is a political analyst for MSNBC, where she has hosted the weekend program AM Joy since 2016 and frequently serves as a substitute for other MSNBC hosts. She is also a columnist for The Daily Beast. During the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, Reid was the Florida deputy communications director for America Coming Together. In 2008 she was a press aide for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Florida.
Reid views conservatives as being inherently racist, sexist, and insensitive to the needs of minorities and the poor. When the Supreme Court in April 2014 upheld a Michigan voter initiative banning the use of race as a factor in that state’s public university admissions policies, Reid stated: “If this court has a central narrative, it could be that those who have held the advantage for most of this country’s history deserve to have it back if they can find the legislative or political means to take it back.… [T]he courts with conservative majority have a novel means of explaining why they feel duty-bound to side with the haves and the have mores. Time has passed, they say. And unless discrimination is violent and obvious and in-your-face, it’s gone. Past and over. That’s something only the privileged could believe.”
During her coverage of the Republican National Convention in July 2016, Reid reported that virtually every speech at that event had a “subtext … that brown people are dangerous.” “There was a lot of really angry rhetoric,” she added, “a lot of talk about murder and death and tying it all back to immigrants…. If you’re a person of color, this is a weird place to be.”
When a deranged gunman who had served as a volunteer for Bernie Sanders‘s 2016 presidential campaign shot and wounded Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others on June 14, 2017 in Virginia, Reid, in an interview with Protestant minister William Barber, wondered aloud whether people should temporarily refrain from criticizing the congressman’s past actions and positions, which she considered repugnant: “Scalise has a history that we’ve all been forced to sort of ignore on race. He did come to leadership after some controversy over attending a white nationalist event, which he says he didn’t know what it was. He also co-sponsored a bill to amend the Constitution to define marriage [exclusively as a union] between a man and a woman. He voted for the House health care bill, which … would gut health care for millions of people…. And he co-sponsored a bill to repeal the ban on semiautomatic weapons…. Are we required in a moral sense to put that aside at the moment?”
Reid co-edited the 2017 book, We Are The Change We Seek: The Speeches of Barack Obama.
In October 2017, after White House chief-of-staff John Kelly — a retired U.S. Marine Corps General — accused Florida congresswoman Frederica Wilson, an African-American, of having misrepresented the tenor of President Donald Trump’s recent phone conversation with the grieving mother of a black American soldier who had been killed during active duty, Reid posted a tweet criticizing Kelly for his “segregated Boston upbringing and dehumanization of a black woman.”
In a November 2017 Daily Beast piece titled “As We Rethink Old Harassers, Let’s Talk About Clarence Thomas,” Reid classified Thomas — whom Antia Hill had accused of sexual harassment in 1991 — as well as President Trump as “predacious men” and “sexual raptors armed with immense power.”
In the wake of a November 2017 mass shooting that left 26 people dead at a Sutherland Springs, Texas church, Reid condemned anyone who offered their prayers without also demanding stricter gun-control measures. “Enough with the ‘thoughts and prayers already,’” she tweeted. “The Bible teaches us that faith without works is dead. Do something or say nothing.” In a separate tweet, Reid said sarcastically: “Remember when Jesus of Nazareth came upon thousands of hungry people, and rather than feeding them, thought and prayed?” And in yet another tweet, she described the National Rifle Association as an organization “soaked and bathed in blood.”
Later that month, Reid said that the Electoral College enables America’s “rural minority” to wield “disproportionate power over the urban majority” in presidential elections, and that it thus represents “the core threat to our democracy.”
In December 2017, Reid described President Trump as a man with “a black hole inside of” him, and condemned “Trumpism” as a “guttural” disposition that exploits “all of your base fears of other people, your anger, your rage, your neediness.” She also cast Trump as “an authoritarian of the first order” – a man who “has the … dance of authoritarianism down to a science.” By contrast, Reid characterized former President Barack Obama as “the emblem of what presidencies used to be … the sort of model of the presidency as aspirational…and above the fray.” This was reminiscent of a tweet she had posted a month earlier, lauding Obama for the “soaring rhetoric” that had helped give him a “mythical quality.”
Also in December 2017, Reid described the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency as “the organization that deports people’s grannies.” During a discussion the following month about immigration reform, she scolded Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist, for his use of the terms “illegal alien” and “illegal immigrants.” “[W]e’re going with ‘undocumented immigrants,’” Reid stated.
In December 2017 as well, Reid interviewed the anti-Christian author and film director Frank Schaeffer, who had previously characterized Christianity as “a culture of insanity,” regarding President Trump’s recent affirmation that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, and that the U.S. would be moving its diplomatic embassy to that city. Reid began with a quote from what she called “one of the more liberal publications in Israel”:
“In order to truly understand the centrality of this theological dog whistle to Trump’s Evangelical base, you must take their religious beliefs seriously … this is vital … because rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem would initiate the end-time laid out in the book of Revelation. End-time is a fundamentalist Christian belief in a prophecy that the living and the resurrected will one day be delivered from the Earth by God, their bodies transformed and protected in heaven, as he pours out his wrath on the sinners left behind.”
Reid then commented with incredulity: “That sounds like something out of a novel. Is it true that there are people who really believe that having Israel unified under, I mean having Jerusalem unified under total Israeli control, will bring on the end times?”
In January 2018, Reid grossly mischaracterized the position of National Review’s David French, who had recently written: “[E]ven if a nuclear weapon as big as the largest North Korea has ever tested were to impact squarely on Manhattan, the vast majority of New Yorkers would survive the initial blast. A strike would devastate central Honolulu but leave many suburbs intact. If the missile misses a city center even by a small amount, the number of initial casualties plunges dramatically.” In response to those remarks, Reid – noting that both Hawaii and New York City were heavily Democratic and mostly nonwhite – inferred that French was in essence saying that such an attack would amount to nothing more than a temporary inconvenience from which the country as a whole could recover quite well. “We have truly entered the age of insanity,” she tweeted, “when the conservative argument in favor of risking nuclear war is, ‘don’t worry, it will only kill Democrats and minorities.” French responded that Reid’s interpretation of his words was “not only antithetical to my deepest beliefs,” but was also “directly contradicted by two long pieces I’ve written that were specifically intended to highlight the horrific risks of an all-out conflict with North Korea.”
In a series of January 31, 2018 tweets, Reid derided President Trump’s State Of The Union address for its references to “church,” “family,” “police,” “military,” and “the national anthem” — words which Reid described as “tropes of 1950s-era nationalism.” Those “terms of the bygone era his supporters are nostalgic for,” she added, “allo[w] his base to reminisce about an Ozzie and Harriet past they don’t really value anymore based on their support for his ‘values’.” Reid also characterized Trump as “anti-immigrant, backward-looking, anti-innovation, and anti-progress”; condemned his “seeming eagerness to flirt with war with North Korea”; claimed that “his version of ‘family values’ excludes the families of immigrants”; and criticized the president for “mak[ing] it sound like the biggest issue in the United States, the biggest threat is MS-13, a gang nobody that doesn’t watch Fox News has ever heard of.”
In September 2018, Roslyn La Liberte — a Trump-supporting California woman whom Reid had accused of calling a 14-year-old Latino boy named Joseph Luevanos a “dirty Mexican” during a heated public meeting on immigration three months earlier — filed a defamation lawsuit against the television host. The suit charged Reid with “spreading the false claim on social media” that La Liberte had “lobbed a racial slur” at the teen. In her posts on Instagram, for instance, Reid had written the following with regard to a photograph that showed the La Liberte wearing a pro-Trump “MAGA” (“Make America Great Again”) hat and supposedly shouting the aforementioned slur in the boy’s direction: “He showed up to rally to defend immigrants. … He is 14 years old. She is an adult. Make the picture black and white and it could be the 1950s and the desegregation of a school. Hate is real, y’all. It hasn’t even really gone away.” But according to La Liberte, her conversation with Luevanos was “civil” and had ended with them hugging one another. Reid eventually deleted her Instagram posts and wrote: “It appears I got this wrong. My apologies to Mrs. La Liberte and Joseph.”
On November 25, 2018, Reid invited her guests to name a Democratic ticket that might be able to defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. When TheBeatDC.com co-founder Tiffany Cross asserted that “Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey” could “beat Donald Trump by a landslide,” Reid opined that America’s inherent racism would prevent the pair from winning such an election: “[W]e know racially-polarized voting is a real thing, and people will say they’ll vote for Oprah until she’s actually on the ballot.”
In a February 2019 interview on Chris Matthews‘s program Hardball, Reid described President Trump as someone who “makes up nicknames for people and demand they give him a border wall and talk about the brown scare at the border. That’s the Trump he wants to be.” Matthews asked in response: “Has he actually used that awful phrase? Like the yellow scare? Did he say that?” At that point, Reid changed her narrative: “That’s not his exact text. But what he is essentially saying to his base, which is who he is president of, this third of the country, that, you know, you know, the brown people at the border are coming to take your jobs or kill you. And that’s who he wants to be.”
On March 24, 2019, Reid claimed that President Trump’s “attacking the media” — which “isn’t a crime but it’s a violation of the First Amendment in a lot of ways” — could be grounds for his impeachment.
On May 11, 2019, Reid claimed that “during the Bush era, we were … starving people in Guantanamo.” But in fact, precisely the opposite was true. As Newsbusters.org points out: “During the Bush era, Guantanamo officials took forceful measures to prevent people from starving. A number of prisoners had gone on hunger strikes to protest prison conditions…. Rather than let the prisoners starve themselves to death, the prison officials force-fed them.”
In May 2019, Reid condemned recently-enacted state laws restricting abortion as attempts by conservative Christians to “send women back to the Dark Ages.” Said Reid:
“Trump and Mitch McConnell’s tag-team effort to stack the courts, including the Supreme Court, with right-wing judges has made the Christian far-right so confident, they’re pushing through laws in multiple states under Republican control that essentially send women back to the Dark Ages, forcing them to give birth even when impregnated by a rape or incest. All in hopes of sending a case to the Republican-majority Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Essentially, turning all of America into Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale….
“As we speak, the American religious right is waging an all-out assault on women’s rights. Essentially, attempting to reduce women to little more than vessels for pregnancy, subject to the complete control of the state once they become pregnant, even by rape or incest. The states implementing those forced-birth laws want to take their theocratic ideas national…. I think what people worry about now is that Donald Trump, who does not seem to be particularly religious himself, has essentially said to the religious far-right: you can have the courts; you can have an overturning of Roe v. Wade. He doesn’t particularly care.”
In a June 2019 appearance on Bill Maher‘s Real Time, Reid lamented that Americans could not have “a standard immigration debate” because “what we have now [under President Trump] is a debate over whether or not the United States is operating concentration camps at our border. We have an almost Geneva Convention level threat to people’s lives…. We’re throwing kids in cages, we’re putting up military tents.”
In June 2019 as well, Reid appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program to promote her new book, The Man Who Sold America: Trump and the Unraveling of the American Story. When co-anchor Willie Geist asked her what the Trump campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” meant to her, Reid replied:
“I hear make America a country that, in the 1950s, meant white Christian men had dominion over everyone else. That’s exactly what it means when I hear it. It’s George Wallace. He’s just Republican George Wallace, and that message has been resonant and actually has been potent for a very long time. David Duke used that message when he ran for governor of Louisiana; George Wallace obviously used it and he had a pretty good chunk of the — at the time the Democratic Party. Richard Nixon used it. It’s a common message because you just do have a certain quarter, maybe a third of the country that does not like the idea that we’re becoming a more multiracial society. Where women have a lot of asserted rights and where they’re not on top.
Later in the same interview, Reid claimed that the only black people whom Trump saw as his equals were wealthy celebrities: “Donald Trump has two kinds of visions of black people: one, celebrities and sports stars that he wants to be around. And two, every other black person that he thinks is beneath him.”
On July 6, 2019, Reid smeared Trump supporters as a pack of sadists who wanted to see nonwhite people cruelly abused at the U.S.-Mexico border. Addressing her guest, Adam Serwer, who had recently authored an article titled “The Cruelty Is the Point” in The Atlantic, Reid said:
“You know, the dehumanization of these folks,… it brings back sort of the memories of the way people treated others during the invasion of Iraq. The sense of, these aren’t even people. Or in our own past. The way that people were able to treat others, whether it’s from enslavement on. They’re just not people so we don’t have to think of them as human beings…. I think I quote you every week, Adam: the cruelty is the point. That’s why they’re doing it, right? His base wants to see this. And so he’s showing them that he can dehumanize them. Isn’t that message coming from the White House, that essentially you don’t have to treat these people like human beings. Who cares?”
In a July 2019 appearance on Reid’s MSNBC program, political commentator Julianne Malveaux exhorted her fellow Democrats to remain focused on the objective of removing President Trump, whom she characterized as a subhuman ape, from office: “At the end of the day, the goal has to be to get rid of the orange orangutan.” Reid offered no pushback against Malveaux’s verbiage.
In an August 2019 appearance on AM Joy, MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson said the following about Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “This is the guy who is singularly responsible … for bringing down any functional republic — not the dimwit [Trump] who is in the White House right now, not the people who are working with him. It was Mitch McConnell who knew the rules and broke them in order to push forward a white nationalist agenda….” Reid agreed, speculating that McConnell was trying to ruin the country for nonwhite minorities before their inevitable rise to political power in the near future:
“Absolutely. You know, somebody said to me this week, I thought was so smart, that it’s almost as if Mitch McConnell’s plan is that they know the demographics are what they are, and that the only way they’re willing to hand power to the non-white majority in this country ever is if the country is completely a shell and broke, and they’ll hand them the broken pieces and keep all the wealth for themselves…. I have this old set of New York Times front covers….to show how benign the coverage was even in the 1930s as the world was about to burn down in World War II. And the just sort of benign things, you know, it’s like a tick of wanting to see world leaders — in that case of Germany — they just want to see them as normal, and I don’t know where that comes from, but it is really — and I think it wouldn’t be so if those leaders were not white men, I have to say.”
In a November 2019 interview with liberal economist Ron Isana, Reid sought to portray the Trump economy as weaker than the low unemployment rate (3.6%) seemed to indicate. Said Reid: “[W]e are in an economy where a lot of people have jobs, but the job numbers are plussed up because people have a second job driving Lyft, a third job driving Uber, and people are making money in the gig economy. I just was in the supermarket the other day and there were no humans. I mean … all there are are automated machines where you check your own groceries out and like two people have jobs in the grocery store, so the economy is working great for billionaires.” Reid was clearly unaware that whether someone has one job or multiple jobs, he is counted as employed; the number of jobs he holds has no effect on the reported unemployment rate.
During the impeachment hearings that congressional Democrats were holding against President Trump in November 2019, Reid lamented that “the entire Republican Party” was in the midst of a “moral crisis” whose principal hallmark was the party’s willingness to “subsume itself” to “a cult of personality” centered “around Donald Trump’s personal interests.” “It’s sad,” she added, “and so, the responsibility on Democrats is huge.”
Following a televised Democratic presidential debate in November 2019, Reid portrayed President Trump as a threat to nonwhites in the United States:
“The danger of Donald Trump is much more extent to my community. It’s much more extent to both my immigrant relatives, to African-Americans, to Latinos, it’s not about whether or not we can regain our public standing on the world stage and be seen as America, as America was, to people who look like me, it’s about imminent danger. Donald Trump is dangerous to our families, he’s dangerous to our lives. The, you know, my — my son, my — our youngest son goes to Syracuse University, where right now, you know, manif — the manifesto of the Texas shooter is being sent around to immigrant students, to black students, to Asian-American students. People are afraid to be in school right now and just being black or brown feels dangerous. LGBT community feel their marriages are in danger — in danger now. And so the idea of uniting and coming together [as Democrat candidate Pete Buttigieg had urged during the debate], that sounds fine … to middle class white America that wants to come together with their uncle who’s a Trumper. That’s not going to work in communities of color.”
On September 1, 2020, Reid likened the behavior of President Trump and his supporters to radical Muslims by saying: “When leaders, let’s say in the Muslim world, talk a lot of violent talk and encourage their supporters to be willing to commit violence including on their own bodies in order to win against whoever they decide is the enemy, we in the U.S. media describe that as they are ‘radicalizing’ these people, particularly when they’re radicalizing young people. That’s how we talk about the way Muslims act. When you see what Donald Trump is doing, is that any different from what we describe as radicalizing people?”
On September 3, 2020, Reid defended the funding of out-of-state agitators who were traveling across the U.S. to participate in various protests and riots — led by Antifa and Black Lives Matter (BLM) — against the systemic racism allegedly pervading America. She also compared the activities and objectives of Antifa and BLM, to those of the civil rights movement: “First of all, it wouldn’t even be illegal if someone was paying for people’s flights to cities where they will protest any more than it was illegal for civil rights organizations to pay for the buses that brought northern protesters to the south during the civil rights movement. Most importantly, there is no evidence that anyone is paying for anyone to do anything, let alone there are ‘dark shadows’ out there enticing people to commit violent acts.” Asserting that the word Antifa “literally stands for anti-fascists,” and that the movement’s activities “aren’t close to organized crime,” Reid added: “I can’t believe I have to say this, but one more time for those in the back, Black Lives Matter and Antifa are not the mob.”
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