MSNBC host Joy Reid has been sued by a woman who received a torrent of verbal abuse, including death threats, from Reid’s Twitter base after the host accused her of hurling racial slurs at a 14-year old.
Roslyn La Liberte has become widely known as the screaming woman in a MAGA cap in a notorious photo, in which she appears to shout at a Latin-American teenage boy. In a lawsuit, filed with the New York Eastern District Court, La Liberte says that Reid “used her substantial social media presence, fame, and reputation as a hard-hitting journalist” to peddle false accusations of racism against her.
Reid effectively took out a social-media hit on La Liberte, tweeting the photo, originally posted by Alan Vargas, a March of Our Lives student activist, who called on his followers to spread the post, writing that “this woman needs to be put on blast.” Reid’s re-post gave a powerful boost to the tweet, since she has almost 1.3 million Twitter followers, compared to Vargas’ 14,000.
In separate posts on her social media accounts, including on Facebook and Instagram, Reid claimed that La Liberte screamed “You are going to be the first deported” and “Dirty Mexican” at the boy. She also compared La Liberte’s conduct with that of white supremacists. “Make the picture black and white and it could be the 1950s and the desegregation of a school,” Reid wrote.
Her call to name and shame the woman was promptly answered by her followers, with La Liberte saying in the complaint that she was forced to change her contact details in order to shield herself from harassment by strangers. She saved some 500 disparaging voicemails and emails, while deleting dozens more.
Most importantly, the allegations that Reid so enthusiastically promoted proved to be a hoax. La Liberte pointed out that both the boy and his mother confirmed in interviews and elsewhere that they were having a “civil” discussion. The boy even stated in an interview to Fox News shortly after the incident, that he “felt like [La Liberte] was still trying to keep it civil, which I appreciate.”
There is also a video, linked to the lawsuit, that shows the immediate aftermath of the council meeting, in which La Liberte can be seen hugging the boy while his mother is saying to one of the persons filming the incident that “they are having a civil conversation.”
“Unfortunately, despite Reid thrusting her false accusations in front of the eyes of her approximately 1.5 million social media followers and onto the pages of many media publications, the video showing the truth of this interaction has been viewed just four hundred and forty-five (445) times as of August 29, 2018,” the plaintiff says in the lawsuit.
La Liberte shared several examples of online hate she has received, such as:
“Want Out? Your life is probably becoming a living hell and you don’t know how to handle it. I can offer a way out.”
“Racist c**t! Who the f**k do you think you [a]re? You’re sick and twisted c**t & you’ll end up in hell after you die.”
Lawyers for La Liberte, who is of immigrant background herself, argued that Reid, a well-known member of anti-Trump resistance, “set out to destroy” the woman “because she disagrees with La Liberte’s MAGA hat and the beliefs Reid ascribes to those wearing that hat conflict with her ideology.”
Reid eventually deleted the photo and apologized, but La Liberte does not consider this to be enough. She is now seeking damages to the tune of $75,000.
Reid has repeatedly found herself in hot water for her troubling online presence, including her tweets. She was forced to apologize for a series of homophobic posts on her old blog, the Reid Report, which resurfaced in April. At first, Reid blamed hackers for adding the disparaging remarks to her dormant blog, but later admitted that there was no evidence of tampering. She continued to insist, though, that she “genuinely” did not remember posting the remarks. She also apologized for calling pundit Ann Coulter ‘a man’ in her tweets from 2010 and 2011.
In June, Reid faced backlash for praising Hamas, fanning 9/11 conspiracy, and insulting John McCain and his 2008 running mate Sarah Palin, when a new portion of her Reid Report posts was scrutinized. Reid was again forced to apologize, this time without conjuring up blog-hacking cybercriminals.
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