Advertisement
Dan Rodricks

Dan Rodricks: Eight questions Joy Reid should have asked Marilyn Mosby | COMMENTARY

In 2020, MSNBC gave weekend host Joy Reid her own weeknight show, putting her in the time slot previously held by Chris Matthews, who was for 20 years the host of “Hardball.” They named the new show “The ReidOut.” I was glad to see it. Reid is a big improvement over Matthews, whose hyperactive, guest-interrupting, self-promoting shtick got old years ago.

Still, Reid’s performance Tuesday night, with our indicted Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby as her “exclusive” guest, left a lot to be desired. It was softball where some hardball was needed.

Advertisement

Reid gave Mosby and her media-savvy defense attorney, A. Scott Bolden, about 11 minutes to lay out the claim that Baltimore’s chief prosecutor is the victim of some kind of vendetta.

There were moments when Reid asked Mosby about the federal perjury charges against her. But she did so in such a hasty way that an uninitiated viewer would not have understood them or, rather, might have understood them as innocent mistakes, not federal offenses.

Advertisement

The details sometimes get lost when national media pick up a local story or when the issues are complex and not given to quick summations for short attention spans. For instance, Reid said in her setup for the segment that Baltimore police officers had “killed Freddie Gray.” Call me old school, but if you’re going to state that police “killed Freddie Gray,” you at least should have a conviction to back it up. In April 2015, Gray died from injuries sustained while being transported in a police van, but no cop was ever convicted of killing him. Mosby charged six officers in connection with Gray’s death; three were acquitted after trials, and Mosby dropped the charges against the rest. Nonetheless, Mosby became and remains something of a national celebrity, making her an appealing guest for a cable show.

On “The ReidOut” on Tuesday, it seemed that the idea was simply for Reid to be friendly, give Mosby her say and lay off the hard stuff.

But that’s not how journalists are supposed to roll — so pleased to get the guest that you go soft during the interview.

I can think of eight questions Reid should have asked Mosby.

The federal indictment accuses you of having claimed financial hardship during the pandemic in order to take advantage of an element of pandemic relief authorized by Congress. Your salary was $248,000 in 2020. How does that square with a claim of hardship?

How does claiming financial hardship under the CARES Act, so that you could withdraw a total of $81,000 from your city retirement account, square with buying two homes in Florida worth more than $1 million combined? That doesn’t sound like it meets the intention of the CARES Act.

The indictment says that, in applying for mortgages to buy the properties in Florida, you failed to disclose, in accordance with federal law, that you and your husband owed more than $45,000 in unpaid federal taxes. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service had placed a lien against you and your husband. Why didn’t you disclose that?

(Note: Mosby previously stated that she was unaware of the lien. Given that answer, I would ask these in follow-up: How is that possible? You never got home before your husband did to see a letter from the IRS demanding payment?)

Advertisement

You seem to be complaining that the feds investigated you too thoroughly, asking about your charitable donations, your children’s dance instructors, issuing subpoenas to some churches. But you previously worked for an insurance company investigating fraudulent claims. You’ve been Baltimore’s top prosecutor since 2015. Given your professional background, wouldn’t you agree that the best investigations are thorough investigations?

You say you’ve been targeted by federal prosecutors for political reasons — because, for instance, you dared to prosecute the Freddie Gray cops six years ago. But where’s the evidence for that? The U.S. Department of Justice found a dark history of serious problems with the Baltimore Police Department, prompting the city to consent to reforms. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore prosecuted several corrupt cops in the Gun Trace Task Force scandal. Given that background, why would the DOJ or the U.S. Attorney’s staff have objected to your charging cops in Gray’s death in 2015?

You say that your indictment is a “political ploy” to unseat you before the next election. You note that an assistant U.S. Attorney in Baltimore, Leo Wise, gave $100 each in campaign donations to the two candidates who challenged you in the 2018 Democratic primary. That’s not a good look for Wise. But, really, you’re saying the feds launched an investigation because Wise blew $200 on the last city election?

I need to ask you about crime in Baltimore. You’ve been the state’s attorney for seven years and each year the homicide total in that city has surpassed 300, and 2022 is off to a horrible start. When you ran for election in 2014, you blamed your predecessor, Gregg Bernstein, for an increase in homicides, and yet the city has averaged 120 homicides more annually during your tenure than his. Should Baltimore voters hold you to the same standard you set when you ran against Bernstein?

I realize these are not brief, made-for-TV questions. But they are very much in the Baltimore atmosphere right now. The state’s attorney is more than welcome to answer them anytime she wants.


Advertisement