Joy Reid Blames Hackers, Just Like Everyone Else

“We talk about the intersection of intent, opportunity, and capability. This attack makes no sense in the intent or capability categories. If you have the intent to harm Joy Reid, given the capabilities you must possess to modify the Internet Archive, you can do far worse,” says Williams.

Reid’s lawyer, John H. Reichman, said in a statement Wednesday that the FBI was now looking into the matter. The agency said it could not confirm nor deny whether an investigation exists.

Rockstar North

The hacker excuse is an older pastime than you might realize, and deployed by more than just politicians and pundits.

In 2005 for example, video game developer Rockstar North released the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Users soon discovered that the title contained a normally inaccessible mini-game that could be played by installing what became known as the “Hot Coffee” modification. The mini-game was sexually explicit, and involved the game’s main character having sex with his girlfriend. Hundreds of thousands of players downloaded it.

A scandal soon erupted. Lawmakers were concerned over the game’s sexually explicit content, and then-senator Hillary Clinton even urged federal regulators to investigate the game. Rockstar denied that it created the sexual mini-game, and initially blamed nameless hackers “who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes in the official version of the game.”

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Later, Corey Wade, a product manager at Rockstar, admitted that blaming hackers was a public relations screw-up and a lie. The Entertainment Software Rating Board ultimately changed the rating of the game from Mature to Adults Only 18+. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Circuit City all removed the game from their shelves.

Anthony Weiner

In 2011, an alleged college student in Seattle received a photo of a man with an erection wearing gray boxer-brief underwear. It had come from the Twitter and yfrog (a defunct image-hosting site) accounts of then-New York congressman Anthony Weiner. The photo was soon leaked to conservative news site, run by Andrew Breitbart. At first, Weiner denied that the photo, which didn’t include a face, was him. Instead, he alleged mysterious hackers had accessed his accounts.

“The weiner gags never get old I guess,” he told Politico at the time, adding that he thought it was “obvious” that his accounts had been breached. Just over a month later, Weiner admitted his claim that a hacker had sent the lewd photo was a lie. He also confessed to carrying out a series of inappropriate relationships with various women he’d met online.

Last year, Weiner pleaded guilty to transferring obscene material to another woman, who was a minor at the time. He was sentenced to 21 months in prison, ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, and required to register as a sex offender.


Also in 2011, a social-media manager at Chrysler was having a bad day. To take the edge off, they tweeted from the official Chrysler account about the perceived poor driving skills of the people of Detroit. “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to fucking drive,” they wrote. It couldn’t have come at a worse time—the car company was in the midst of a marketing campaign focused on celebrating Detroit. Chrysler promptly removed the tweet, and said that its account had been “compromised,” as one does.

Chrysler later admitted that the tweet had been posted by an employee from New Media Strategies, a marketing firm employed by the car manufacturer. The employee posted the tweet after a bad commute to work, and was promptly fired. Two years later, Jeep, which is owned by the same company as Chrysler, really did have its Twitter account breached.

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin

In February, the Office of Inspector General released a scathing report, which found then-secretary of veterans affairs David J. Shulkin had spent much of a lavish trip to Europe sightseeing with his wife. The report alleges that to justify the government paying for his wife’s over $4,300 in airfare costs, Shulkin’s chief of staff Vivieca Wright Simpson doctored an email to indicate the couple had been invited to an honorary dinner in Denmark to accept an award, which they had not.

In response, Shulkin suggested that Wright Simpson’s email had been hacked and that someone was sending messages in her name. “We have seen that somebody is impersonating her, and we have to fully investigate that to make sure that we follow the processes,” Shulkin told reporters in February.

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