Joy Reid Sued for Defamation by Trump Supporter Falsely Accused of Using Racial Slurs

“Reid set out to destroy,” California woman Roslyn La Liberte says in suit

joy reid msnbc
Getty Images

A California woman named Roslyn La Liberte has filed a defamation lawsuit against Joy Reid, accusing the MSNBC star of spreading a false claim that La Liberte hurled racial slurs toward a teenage boy while attending a Simi Valley, Calif., city council meeting in June.

Reid latched onto a viral photo of La Liberte, wearing a MAGA hat and appearing to be in a heated conversation with a hoodie-wearing boy, that went mega-viral at the time.

But the young man, 14-year-old Joseph Luevanos, told local news that La Liberte had been “civil” and was even recorded hugging her at another moment during the meeting.

“Reid used her substantial social media presence, fame, and reputation as a hard-hitting journalist to publish to her many followers that Plaintiff Roslyn La Liberte (“La Liberte”) screamed abhorrent racial slurs at a fourteen (14) year old boy,” according to the suit, filed Tuesday in Eastern District Court of New York.

The suit says that Reid targeted La Liberte because she was a Trump supporter.

“Reid set out to destroy La Liberte because she disagrees with La Liberte’s MAGA hat and the beliefs Reid ascribes to those wearing that hat conflict with her ideology,” the suit reads, going on to claim that “Reid published without any basis in fact” charges that La Liberte had screamed at the young man and called him a “dirty Mexican.”

Reps for Reid at MSNBC (which was not named in the suit) declined to comment. Reid’s lawyer John Reichman also did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap over the suit.

The anchor apologized to La Liberte on Twitter after receiving a “retraction demand,” according to the suit. La Liberte says the episode led to “hundreds if not thousands of hate messages” and “threats on her life.”

It’s not the first time Reid has taken heat for spreading falsehoods online. The anchor spent much of the spring of 2018 battling revelations that she made a number of incendiary and disparaging comments on an old blog during her time as a Florida radio host.

Among the posts were 9/11 conspiracy theories, jeering claims that then-Florida governor Charlie Crist was secretly gay and a post that photoshopped John McCain’s head onto the body or Virginia Tech shooting suspect Seung-Hui Cho.

Reid compounded the issue by saying her account was hacked — a claim that met with wide skepticism. She ultimately offered multiple on-air apologies before the issue was more or less put to rest.

“I genuinely do not believe I wrote those hateful things because they are completely alien to me but I can definitely understand based on things I have tweeted, have written in the past why some people don’t believe me,” she said at the top of her MSNBC show “AM Joy” in April. “For that I am truly, truly sorry.”