Chris Wallace Asks if Gov. Northam Should be Judged on Blackface Photo: ‘It WAS 35 Years Ago’
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D-For Now) is facing near-unanimous calls for his resignation over his admitted use of blackface in 1984, but Fox News anchor Chris Wallace wonders if it’s fair to judge an entire career over “one terrible mistake” that “was 35 years ago.”
On this week’s edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace opened the show with a panel segment on the still-unfolding Northam scandal.
At a bizarre press conference Saturday ,Northam denied that he appeared in the medical school yearbook photo depicting a blackface-adorned white person sharing a beer with a klansman, and oddly explained that he’s innocent because he clearly remembers donning blackface for a Michael Jackson costume, but not the other photo. Northam also briefly considered moonwalking for the assembled press, and shrugged off the nickname “coonman” that was printed under his name in the yearbook.
Wallace asked his panel if Northam should be judged by that one mistake frin his past.
“Hateful as that photograph from 1984 is, and there’s no question it is hateful,” Wallace said, “it was 35 years ago, and this Governor does have a pretty good record of reaching out to African-Americans, he has been a member of an African-American church. Is it just impossible, in the year 2019, to even consider whether you should judge a person’s whole life of work against one terrible mistake?”
Panelist Jonah Goldberg told Wallace he agrees “in principle, I absolutely think you should be able to apologize sincerely for this, and maybe part of the problem is that a sincere apology would come with a resignation, not with what we’ve seen.”
“But we’re in the moment we were talking about giving felons second chances because of mistakes they’ve made when they’ve killed people or murdered people or raped people,” Goldberg claimed. “Surely if this was a stand-alone thing that he did in his past, and the contrition was sincere, I think we should be able to get over it. People should get a shot at redemption, or at least have their apologies heard.”
“But the problem is, he’s been so bad oh, this was such a bad handling of this thing,” Goldberg continued. “Even now, he’s begging for forgiveness while denying it was him, and promising a search for the real racists. It is a bizarrely convoluted, embarrassing handling of something, and it just it chums the water in ways that makes it impossible for a lot of people to give him the benefit of the doubt.”
“What about that, Mo?” Wallace asked Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee. “What about the argument, let’s say it even was his picture in 1984 in the medical school yearbook. It’s a terrible mistake, it’s hateful, it’s unacceptable. But should we all be judged by the worst thing we ever did?”
Elleithee said that he had “struggled with this too” because of Northam’s record as governor. “He reached out to the African-American community in very real ways, and so the notion that you have this one moment from your past defines and invalidates everything else doesn’t sit well with me.
He added that if Northam “had come out on day one and said, in a very real way, that it was either was him, and here so I’m going to regain your trust, I think people would listen to him. To come out yesterday then and do the about-face…”
“To be fair,” Wallace interrupted, “long before the news conference, and I certainly would be it was a weird news conference, everybody was calling for his resignation, including every Democratic potential candidate.”
Wallace’s point is fair to an extent. The late Senator Robert Byrd was given an opportunity for redemption under far worse circumstances, but there are many factors working against Northam, including the fact that this is 2019, that he didn’t confess these mistakes on his own, that his explanations don’t add up, and that he can still undergo his journey of redemption without being governor. Almost everyone agrees that’s how he should proceed.
Watch the clip above, via Fox.
[Featured image via screengrab]
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