Ralph Northam Claims His 'Unpreparedness' Proves It Wasn't Him in Yearbook Photo
Over the weekend, Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) claimed that his inability to effectively respond to the blackface photo scandal proved that he was not one of the men in the photo on his medical school yearbook page. The inconsistency of his responses proves his innocence, he said. Northam again insisted that he had never seen the offensive photo before, and "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King rightly pressed him on the issue.
"Let’s go back to the picture, and I know you’ve addressed it. But it still raises so many questions for people," King said. "Why do you think it came out now?"
"I — I don’t know. But this is really the first time I have ever seen that picture. And I will tell you ..." Northam responded.
"How could that be? It’s on your yearbook page, governor," King said.
"Well, I was shocked to see it," the governor said. Then came one of the most ridiculous defenses: "And I really believe the fact that if you look at the unpreparedness of me to react to this, both on Friday night and Saturday, that really confirms that this is the first time."
The yearbook photo — which appears on Ralph Northam's page and shows two men, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood — came out on Friday, February 1. That evening, Northam apologized for the harm he had caused. The following day, he held a press conference and disavowed the photo, saying he had never seen it before and that he was not one of the two men in it. To make matters worse, he apologized for wearing blackface to imitate Michael Jackson.
This inconsistency made Northam a laughing stock, but this weekend he used it as a defense. His inability to keep his story straight — "the unpreparedness of me" — bolsters his claim to have never seen the photo before, according to Northam.
William Elwood, a former yearbook staff member at Northam's alma mater, Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), insisted that the photo would not have appeared on Northam's page by accident.
"Each student was allowed to submit a certain number of pictures that they wanted to appear on the page with their graduation photograph," Elwood told ABC News Channel 3. "They chose their own pictures, they were submitted in a sealed envelope with their name on them, and the only time that envelope was opened was when the layout was done on their page."