UPDATE 3:21 pm – Says he plans to take one day at a time. Says there was legislation to make election day a holiday and to get rid of Lee-Jackson Day. Says as a doctor, he treats everyone the same way.
UPDATE 3:18 pm – Says he never saw the need previously to talk about the Michael Jackson dance contest and nobody asked him about it. Says “this has been a tremendous learning experience.” Says he had the “unique opportunity growing up on the Eastern Shore,” has a “lot of African American friends” who he grew up with, “played ball with.”
UPDATE 3:15 pm – Says there’s absolutely no chance there are other photos like this. Says he initially felt it was important to say something quickly that he was sorry this picture was on his page, for whatever reason. Says it has taken time to “make sure it is not me in that picture.” Says “hindsight is 20/20.”
UPDATE 3:13 pm – Getting somewhat redundant now. Says he was around 25 when he did the Michael Jackson dance contest. Mentions facial recognition technology, says he wants to have all the facts and wants Virginians to have all the facts. Says his “phone has been working very hard in the last 24 hours.”
UPDATE 3:12 pm – Says the Eastern Virginia Medical School is reviewing all its yearbooks and will put out a statement.
UPDATE 3:08 pm – Talks about Confederate history/monuments, says he believes localities should make the decision what to do with them.
UPDATE 3:06 pm – Says that going forward, he wants to talk about fighting racism, that he feels “very strongly about that.” “We still have a lot of work to do.” This is a “good opportunity to talk about that issue with what has happened this week.” Says he will continue to reach out to the Black Caucus.
UPDATE 3:05 pm – Says he never thought there would be anything offensive in his med school yearbook, and that the people who do oppo research perhaps should have looked at it.
UPDATE 3:02 pm – Says he’s had a “drink over the years,” but has never gotten to the point where he’s “not in touch with my surroundings.” Says again that he has “no recollection at all” of that photo, and says it’s something he would definitely remember if it had happened (which he says it did not).
UPDATE 3:01 pm – Says he’s accepting responsibility for the photograph being on his page, says it makes him “sick,” but says he will stand and live by his word…”I tell the truth, I’m telling the truth today, that was not my picture.”
UPDATE 2:58 pm – Northam says he won the Michael Jackson dance contest because he had learned to do the “moon walk.” Said he realized later that putting shoe polish on his face was offensive. Also said it’s very hard to get shoe polish off your face, so he only put a little bit on. Said he learned from a close African-American friend named Seth, a campaign aide he drove around the state with, how offensive “black face” is.
UPDATE 2:56 pm – Says his first impression on seeing the yearbook page was “this couldn’t be me,” but there was so much hurt was that his initial reaction was to apologize. Last night, he had a chance to sit down and examine the photo in detail, talk to a classmate, and absolutely concluded it’s not him. Said there were photos put on wrong pages in that very yearbook.
UPDATE 2:55 pm – Says he has a “wonderful relationship” with Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, says he’s been “very supportive” and will “continue to be supportive.” Says Fairfax will be ready to take over if need be.
UPDATE 2:54 pm – “All I can do is what I’ve always done, to be honest…to listen to people…continue to lead…If we get to the point where we feel we’re not effective…then we will revisit this.”
UPDATE 2:53 pm – Says he is a “strong believer in god,” says one of the ways he’s been able to govern successfully is “to listen.” Says he has spoken with and consulted a lot of people in the past 24 hours, has prayed about this as well.
UPDATE 2:51 pm – Says there is “no way I have ever been in a KKK uniform.” Says he will have discussions with Democrats, Republicans and the people of Virginia. “It really starts today to correct the record…I am a person of my word…this has been hurtful.”
UPDATE 2:49 pm – Says he had nothing to do with the preparation of the yearbook nor did he buy one. He explains his “Coonman” nickname by saying there were to students at VMI a year ahead of him who called him that, but he doesn’t know why. Says “this has hurt a lot of people” and wants to assure everybody “that is not my picture.” Says “I have been a man of honor,” asks Virginians to “accept my word” and “offer forgiveness.”
UPDATE 2:40 pm – Gov. Northam says he wants to speak directly for Virginians and for him to answer “as many questions as are necessary about these circumstances.” Northam says yesterday he took responsibility for the racist material on his yearbook page, calling it “offensive, racist and despicable.” He says he did not purchase the yearbook and was unaware of what was on his page. He says yesterday he was seeing it for the first time. He says he does not believe he was either of the people in that photo. He apologizes for the “disgusting,” “offensive,” “racist” material on his yearbook page. He acknowledges that many will find this “difficult to believe.” “Even in my own statement yesterday, I conceded that…that it was indeed me in the photo.” “In the hours since I made my statement yesterday, I reflected with my family and classmates” and concluded he is NOT in the photo. Says that same year, he participated in a Michael Jackson dance contest in San Antonio in which he darkened his face…something he rejects today. He says “you remember these things.” That “does not excuse my behaviors up to that point,” but he used his experiences to grow and change, to “form a set of values that define the person I am now.” “In some ways, my personal history mirrors that of this Commonwealth…like Virginia, I have also made significant progress in how I approach these issues.” “I have devoted my entire life…to making life better for all people, no matter who they are.” Says he’s simply asking for the opportunity to demonstrate that the person he was then is NOT the person he is today, to “earn your forgiveness.” He says resigning would be the easy way out, to avoid honest conversations about his past and his “responsibility to reconcile.” He says he still believes he can fulfill his oath to serve the people of Virginia. Says this moment can be the first small step to start a broader conversation about racism and the “dark and complicated history of this Commonwealth.” Says he is ready to listen and to have an honest conversation about racial justice and reconciliation. Promises to fight for a Virginia that works better for all people, economic justice, access to healthcare, education equity, a clean environment, etc. Apologizes to the many people who have been hurt by this episode.
At 2:30 pm today, Gov. Ralph Northam will be holding a press conference at which he will say…something. According to the Washington Post, Northam apparently will NOT be announcing his resignation, so…what else will he say? What SHOULD he say? I just got done listening to a discussion on Gene Rossi’s radio show with Ben Tribbett, and I agree with a few points they made:
1) as Ben said, Northam should have a chance to present his argument as to why neither of the people in the now-infamous photo is him;
2) but, as Ben added, Northam will have to explain why he apologized yesterday for “behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor” and said “I accept responsibility for my past actions” – what changed since then that he’s now denying he was in the photo or that he was responsible for it being on his yearbook page???;
3) as long-time federal prosecutor Gene Rossi said, this is like a criminal first saying it *was* him in a video of the crime, but then saying the next day that no, it actually *wasn’t* him in the video;
4) also, as Rossi said, the problem is that at this point, Northam is going to be a pariah and a late-night comedy (e.g., Saturday Night Live) punchline; and
5) as Rossi said, Northam at this point has lost the moral authority to government.
I’d add that Northam’s also lost the political unity necessary to govern, given that vast swaths of the Democratic Party (in Virginia and nationally, with the apparent exceptions – at least publicly – of Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner), as well as many progressive groups who had supported him in the past, have told him he needs to resign. Heading into crucial legislative elections this November, it’s hard to see how Northam could be an asset to House and Senate Democratic candidates, but it’s easy to see how he could be a liability.
With that, we’ll see what Northam says at 2:30 pm today. What do you think he will/should say?
— David Culver (@David_Culver) February 2, 2019
Northam’s spokeswoman confirms he will not announce his resignation during his 2:30 p.m. announcement https://t.co/yL3ZVHADD5
— Fenit Nirappil (@FenitN) February 2, 2019