TheRoot.com, By Anne Branigin, Posted July 31st 2020
After four years hosting the weekend talk show AM Joy on MSNBC, journalist Joy Reid has now taken over a coveted nightly spot on the left-leaning cable news network, becoming one of only a handful of Black women to ever helm an evening news show.
Reid’s new show, The ReidOut, debuted on July 20 at 7 pm, replacing Chris Matthews’ Hardball in MSNBC’s primetime lineup. Matthews was forced to resign in March following a series of on-air blunders, including questionable comments about Bernie Sanders and Black lawmakers, as well as private remarks he made to female journalists and coworkers. As NBC News reports, the show will feature “one-on-one conversations with politicians and newsmakers and cover the political issues of the day, drawing from Reid’s experience of covering the intersection of race, justice, and culture.”
Reid’s promotion is significant for several reasons. It could signal the direction Cesar Conde, the new chairman of NBC’s news networks, wants to take his programming: focusing on younger, more diverse talent, content, and audiences. But it also highlights a lack: Reid stands alone as a Black female host of a nightly news show on a major network (as the New York Times notes, the last Black woman to host a primetime news show was PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill, who passed away in 2016). This absence is especially pronounced considering the role Black women occupy among the country’s most influential thinkers, writers, academics, artists, activists, and elected officials.
This was true at MSNBC, where Reid’s AM Joy came after writer and political commentator Melissa Harris-Perry left the network, accusing leadership of sidelining her and wresting editorial control of the show from her. Harris-Perry’s self-titled show routinely centered issues like social justice and racism, which put her at odds with network executives, she said at the time of her departure.
Not long after landing her weekend show, Reid had to answer for her past. In 2017, homophobic posts and comments from her late-aughts blog, “The Reid Report” were unearthed. At first, Reid said her site had been hacked in an attempt to ruin her reputation; she later conceded that there wasn’t much evidence that the offensive posts had been fabricated. Reid addressed the controversy on AM Joy in 2018, telling viewers, “I have not been exempt from being dumb or cruel or hurtful to the very people I want to advocate for.”
“I own that,” she continued. “I did it. And for that, I am truly, truly sorry.”
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow vouched for Reid, according to the Times, noting that her colleague reached out to her “personally and directly.”
“We judge people on their judgment, but also on their capacity to grow and correct,” she said, “As a gay colleague, I had been hurt personally by what had arisen at the time. And that was a stand-up thing to do, and something I won’t forget.”
As part of MSNBC’s nightly news lineup (which includes All in with Chris Hayes and The Rachel Maddow Show), Reid brings a dynamism and social media savvy that the often abrasive and gruff Matthews lacked.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Denver, Reid graduated from Harvard with a degree in film before working in media. She got her start in Florida, where she worked in a variety of mediums, hosting TV and talk-radio shows and wrote a column for the Miami Herald. Reid took a break from journalism to work on Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, after which she served as managing editor of TheGrio.com. She joined MSNBC in 2011 as a contributor, and first hosted a daily talk show on the network in 2014, The Reid Report, until it was canceled a year later.
AM Joy meanwhile, will still be on air but will feature a rotating set of guest hosts until a permanent successor is named in the fall.