On today's BradCast, should Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam resign after his 1984 medical school yearbook was revealed late last week to have featured a photo of a man in blackface standing next to a man in a KKK costume? Don't answer that too quickly. Or, at least listen to today's show first. [Audio link to show follows below.]
After apologizing on Friday night for the appearance of the photo --- calling it "clearly racist and offensive", but failing to specify which of the pictured two men he actually was --- the Governor said at a bizarre Saturday press conference that he was neither man and that he had never even seen the photograph before, since he hadn't purchased that year's yearbook. He says the photograph hit him "like a ton of bricks" on Friday night. However, he told the media that he did remember an instance around the same time when he darkened his face to dress up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest. He said he remembered the contest outfit very specifically, discussing it publicly for the first time on Saturday, while insisting that he never recalls dressing up in either minstrel show blackface or as a Klansman, as depicted in the mystery photograph.
One of the two African-Americans in the same medical school class that graduated with Northam told AP the explanation is plausible, as he didn't purchase the yearbook either and found the racist photo on Northam's page to be out of character. Despite Northam's record of working closely with the African-American community and still being a member of a predominately black church in the town where he grew up, top Democrats from Virginia to D.C. and beyond continued their loud calls on Sunday for him to step down and allow his Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax --- an African-American Democrat --- to replace him.
But should he? And should he be shunned for something that may have never happened? Or, if it did, happened 35 years ago and appears completely inconsistent with his record since then? The answers to those questions are both "absolutely yes" and "no, not so fast", as we discuss with callers today, focusing on Northam's remarks at the strange, yet seemingly earnest Saturday presser in which he stated that acquiescing to calls to step down would allow him to "spare myself from the difficult path that lies ahead," adding: "I could avoid an honest conversation about harmful actions from my past. I cannot in good conscience choose the path that would be easier for me."
We endeavor to have a least part of that "honest conversation" with tons of callers on today's program, including some discussion about key civil rights figures (from Lincoln to Justice Hugo Black to LBJ) whose own histories of racism arguably allowed them to lead on a number of landmark civil rights issues from Emancipation to Brown v. Board of Education to the Civil Rights of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Also today: While I was happy to see MSNBC, on Friday night, highlight a Super Bowl ad buy in Georgia markets by former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams' voting rights group Fair Fight, calling for "hand-counted paper ballots," the news outlet's Rachel Maddow Show maddeningly cut the :30 commercial off when reporting the story, just before the crucial line calling for "hand-marked paper ballots"! (Made, in the spot, by Republican Commissioner of Habersham County, GA Natalie Crawford, by the way.) Maddening. Especially since, unless the voters rise up to protect overseeable elections and stop them, the state of Georgia, along with counties in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas --- not to mention Los Angeles County and neighboring Ventura County! --- are all now planning moves to expensive, unauditable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) before the 2020 Presidential election. Those systems print out computer-marked and barcoded paper ballots which are 100% unverifiable after an election has ended.
Add MSNBC's failure there to a list of disappointments over the weekend from the mess in Virginia to the loss of the L.A. Rams at the Super Bowl...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)