MSNBC anchor Joy Ann Reid invited Jeanine Driver, a self-styled expert in the highly contentious field of body language analysis on her show, AM Joy, to assess the recent spat between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders at the seventh Democratic presidential debate. Warren accused the Vermont Senator of dismissing her chances, claiming he said that a woman could not become president, something he vehemently denies.
“First of all I think Bernie’s lying,” Driver told Reid’s weekend audience of around 1.1 million, claiming, “his shoulders come up like a little kid getting caught,” adding that Sanders was “trying to hide in plain sight.” Driver offered up more questionable expertise in why she agrees with Warren: “He starts with ‘well.’ Liars like to start with ‘well,’” she said, claiming that Sanders’ “weirdy” posture is proof of his dishonesty. Reid strongly agreed: “scandals hurt you more when they seem plausible,” she said. The idea that Sanders’ posture might be slightly hunched because he is 78 years old was not considered.
JFC MSNBC’s Joy Reid invited on a body language expert to say “Bernie is lying” about the Warren spat pic.twitter.com/yhqchYFHk8
— Ibrahim (@ibrahimpols) January 18, 2020
In the short segment, Driver also suggested that Bernie was “coached” to laugh at hard questions, a tactic she claimed liars use to shrug off inconvenient truths. She did not explain or even acknowledge why even the audience laughed at CNN moderator Abby Phillip’s childish attempts to frame the question that drew criticism across the corporate media landscape as a textbook example of bad journalism. Even Warren herself could not help but hold back a smile at the loaded question Phillip asked.
Driver’s credibility on any subject is in doubt; as The Nation’s Ken Klippenstein found, she claims that flu shots impregnate American women and has spread other vaccine myths. Perhaps more importantly, however, neither MSNBC nor Driver disclosed that she is personal friends with former Vice President Joe Biden – something that seems relevant given that Sanders is Biden’s closest challenger in the race to become the Democrats’ choice for president of the United States.
The “body language expert” Joy-Ann Reid had on to say Bernie Sanders lied at the debate posted anti-Vaxxer content at least twice pic.twitter.com/73hcWTi2TM
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) January 18, 2020
Reid herself is also a controversial figure, with a history of strongly racist and homophobic remarks. She was one of the chief proponents of the RussiaGate narrative; the theory that Donald Trump worked with Vladimir Putin to overthrow American democracy.
In her hostility towards Trump and all things Slavic, she managed to make multiple errors in one infamous statement when she claimed Ivana Trump was from “Soviet Yugoslavia.” In reality, Ivana is from Slovakia, which was never part of Yugoslavia. And neither Slovakia nor Yugoslavia was ever part of the Soviet Union.
Reid also categorically stated that Islam is incompatible with both free speech and democracy, and implied that the only reason Muslims have not started a world war is that they “are so desperately poor that they have the time, energy and resources for only the occasional burst of AK-47 fire into the air from the garbage and sewage laden streets outside of their mud huts.”
In her previous, pre-woke stage Reid was also a proud homophobe, outing closeted gay people and even insinuating that most gay men are actually pedophiles. When these problematic posts were found by journalists, Reid claimed that Russian hackers had inserted homophobic and racist rantings onto her personal website in order to derail her important investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. She did not explain how neither she nor anyone else noticed rogue articles appearing on her blog for over a decade, nor how the offensive posts were saved and archived by the Library of Congress in 2006. Evidently, Moscow must have been playing a very long game with Reid.
— AM Joy w/Joy Reid (@amjoyshow) January 18, 2020
In response to the segment, Reid and her show trended on Twitter, a fact the tone-deaf anchor celebrated. But the public reaction was far from positive.
“MSNBC is a fucking disgrace,” wrote Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. “This segment of bullshit charlatan body language analysis to prove Bernie is lying mixed with Joy Reid’s anti-Semitic stereotypes about his pushy use of his hands when speaking – is appalling but typical,” he said, ending by saying, “The hacker did it,” in reference to Reid’s stock excuse. In response to the segment, Sanders’ National Press Secretary, Briahna Joy Gray, said “This is why no one trusts the media. These people are digging their own professional graves,” adding that she felt they deserved an apology.
The reaction to Warren’s accusations has also been distinctly poor, with the Massachusetts senator slumping to just 12 percent support nationally. In contrast, Sanders took first place over Driver’s friend and ex-Delaware senator Biden. Opinion polls show that the public responds to Sanders’ message on Medicare for All and his promise to take on powerful corporations, one of whom is MSNBC’s parent company, Comcast. “Their greed must end,” he wrote on his campaign website. Perhaps that explains the extent of MSNBC’s hostility towards him.
Feature photo | MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid speaks with “body language expert”Janine Driver, who accused Sen. Bernie Sanders of being a liar on national television. Screenshot | MSNBC
Alan MacLeod is a Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, The Guardian, Salon, The Grayzone, Jacobin Magazine, Common Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.