I’ve written a significant number of articles on left-wing bias in the media, and the rampant hypocrisy that resides on the progressive side of the fence. The Ralph Northam incident might be the clearest case of both that I’ve ever seen, perhaps even more so than the Brett Kavanaugh absurdity. Given that Virginia is my home state, the dual scandals that have rocked the country regarding both our lieutenant and governor seemed like an excellent topic for an article, because this one is even more unique than past scandals. This time, we have not only sexual harassment but a photo of our governor that’s so racist it makes confederate statues look like garden gnomes.
First though, let’s have a look at the statement Northam issued, word for word. First the denial:
“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.”
Then the retraction:
"When I was confronted with the image, I was appalled that it appeared on my page, but I believed then, and I believe now that I am not either of the people in that photograph.”
Then the pivot:
"I am just asking for that ability to demonstrate that the person I was is not the man I am today. It’s obvious from what happened this week that we still have a lot of work to do. There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity,”
So first, let’s have a lesson on lying. Anyone that has studied psychology or persuasion technique knows that there are many ways to tell if someone is lying, be it body language, word choice, or inconsistency. If you read the denial he issued, that is prime exhibit A in the selection of words a liar would use. Let me give you two examples of statements you could make in the event the police ask you if you murdered person A.
“No, absolutely not. I was doing XYZ at that time.”
“Who told you that? What makes you think I would do such a thing? I certainly don’t believe I murdered that person.”
One of those is a far more credible denial, and it should be obvious which one is the stronger statement. When we look at Northam’s denial, he says he doesn’t BELIEVE that is him in the photo. That is an example of a weak denial, which means at the very least he’s not entirely sure. He then admitted to wearing blackface at least once, which then lends further evidence that, at a minimum, he’s participated in acts like the ones depicted. After analyzing his words and body language, it’s quite clear that it is highly likely that he is in that photo, and that’s even setting aside the fact that it has his name emblazoned across the top of the page. He then proceeded to say he didn’t PREPARE or PURCHASE the yearbook, a statement that, yet again, is not a denial. He then attempted the classic move of diverting attention with his pivot over to calling everyone else racist. Compare this to the sexual assault denials by Justin Fairfax:
“I say again without reservation: I did not sexually assault or rape Meredith Watson, Vanessa Tyson or anyone else. The one thing I want to make abundantly clear is that in both situations I knew at the time, and I know today, that the interactions were consensual. Consequently, I call on all appropriate and impartial investigatory authorities, including the FBI, to investigate fully and thoroughly the allegations against me by Ms. Watson and Dr. Tyson.”
Now, that folks, is a plausible denial. That statement is as strong as it gets, and comparing the two is night and day in terms of credibility. I’m not saying Fairfax didn’t assault the two women, but his denial is far more credible then Northam’s. So let’s assume for the purposes of this article that it is him in the photo. My biggest question is how did the GOP opposition research not catch this? Democrat opposition research dug up every hour of every day on Brett Kavanaugh, yet the GOP, repeatedly, has missed game-changing information. Part of it is lackluster work, but there’s a second element to it as well. The GOP doesn’t have every journalist in America doing opposition research for them as the Democrats do. The media pursues Democrat scandals with the vigor of a sedated mouse, and GOP scandals with the fervor of a wolverine on cocaine. If this sort of thing doesn’t illustrate the insane level of media bias, then nothing will. There’s actually columnists in serious media outlets, such as Michael Cohen in the Boston Globe, that are attempting to divert the argument over to the so-called hypocrisy on the GOP side.
If you are on the left and you read this article, ask yourself what would have happened had Ted Cruz or Steve Scalise been caught literally wearing a clan robe or blackface. There is no chance their careers would not have ended instantly, and everyone knows it. There would never have even been a debate or calls to resign; it would have been done within a day. The fact that people are even discussing whether Northam should step down in itself illustrates the colossal difference between the treatment of the parties. The main takeaway as it relates to the media is one thing: Presumptive Negativity. When there is a GOP scandal, the media framing is entirely different, as it is automatically assumed that the party is guilty.
Perhaps if we had media outlets in America that actually reported news rather than advocating for one side and chasing ratings, we might be able to achieve some semblance of unity.
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.