This week, MSNBC host Joy Reid has found herself embroiled in a familiar controversy. Twitter user @Jamie_Maz—for the second time—surfaced a number of homophobic posts, from the early aughts, on Reid's now defunct blog, the Reid Report. In response, Reid has turned to a recognizable scapegoat: hackers.
Reid isn't the first public figure to blame hackers for her alleged misdeeds online. Numerous celebrities and politicians have accused hackers of breaching their websites and accounts for years. It's an alluring explanation, in part because plenty of websites and organizations have suffered genuine breaches. And the general public still largely views hackers as nefarious, all-powerful cyberghosts who can reach into your computer and cause your Twitter account to retweet hardcore porn at any time.
To be clear up front, it's absolutely possible—if not entirely plausible—that Reid and some of the others below really were hacked. That's partly why the hacking excuse provides such good cover; it's a difficult crime to trace, and can be difficult to fully rule out in many cases, especially if forensic evidence has been destroyed. With that caveat aside, here are some of the best moments of hacker-blaming history.
The Report on the Reid Report
Let's start with Reid, who claims that attackers not only breached her blog, but also the nonprofit Internet Archive, which maintains the Wayback Machine, a database that automatically preserves millions of web pages to keep them from being lost to history. They did so, Reid says, to insert multiple posts that say things like "adult gay men tend to be attracted to very young, post-pubescent types."
"In December I learned that an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material from my now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and