CNN Panel Admits Political ‘Timing’ Is What’s Forcing Northam Out

The Democratic Party kicked off Black History Month with a trip back to its racist roots with the controversy surrounding Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and a photo appearing to show him in either blackface or a KKK hood. He claims it wasn’t him although he did admit to wearing blackface in the past. As Democratic politicians and liberal media folks called on him to resign, a panel of journalists on CNN’s Inside Politics tacitly admitted that the calls were happening because the political timing was significant.

New York Times national political correspondent Jonathan Martin pointed out that Democrats “beyond the state” were “even more concerned” because the 2020 presidential race was coming up. “[T]hey want to have clean hands when it comes to this president,” he explained. “And they want to be able to sort of prosecute the case against Trump without the Trump folks saying ‘hypocrite, hypocrite’.

Timing is everything in politics,” proclaimed host John King as he proceeded to seemingly admit that Northam may have survived the controversy almost any other time. “There may have been a time in this Michael Jackson episode if he disclosed it himself in some previous campaign, maybe you can get through it.” King also noted that the pressures from 2020 and state politics were great:

But you mentioned the state politics issues. Democrats think they can make important gains in the legislature. The business part of being governor. Then there's the national moment. Trump in the White House. Many Democrats call him a racist. This historically diverse Democratic field for president coming out of the 2018 midterms.

 

 

There was probably a very narrow path after these photos first emerged if he would have handled this, sort of, with the top level of political savvy to sort of narrowly escape this. But he definitely did not do this,” Washington Post White House reporter Toluse Olorunnipa suggested when asked by King if there was a “path” for Northam to “explain his way out”.

When a Republican gets caught up in a scandal involving race, they’re chastised for being evil and from a bygone era. But Martin actually spoke glowingly about Northam:

What's fascinating about this Governor is that if you talk to people who know him and who like him, they will tell you, certainly before this and sort of sweet terms, that he's from an earlier era. That obviously has a very different resonance now but he comes from an earlier time and place. He’s from the eastern shore of Virginia. A very rural, isolated part of the state. You know, he's 59, but in some ways, he's a little more dated than that.

Martin also tried to sympathize with him. “I think he's trying to save himself there. And he just sort of talks himself into more of a hole by talking about Michael Jackson in that fashion,” Martin explained. “He was determined, I think, to clear his name. And he wanted to stand there and take every possible question. And went for our 40 minutes. And I think the longer in this case, not the better.”

Towards the first commercial break, Bloomberg’s senior national political reporter, Jennifer Jacobs posed that as 2020 drew closer, “I can almost guarantee that the topic of, is something that happened 35 years ago disqualifying as we take into context?

It’s a great point. I mean, it shouldn't necessarily be disqualifying but how you handle it,” King agreed. Strange how they pose that question now, instead of when they were trying to smear Justice Brett Kavanaugh. This is CNN.

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

CNN’s Inside Politics
February 3, 2019
8:05:56 a.m. Eastern

(…)

JONATHAN MARTIN: And then lastly, this is an election year in Virginia. Every year is. And the fact is the entire House and Senate is on the ballot in Virginia. He is the fund-raiser in chief as well. How is he going to raise money for candidates who are going to be on the ballot this year? And Democrats are that close to taking back the House and Senate. So, I think Democrats are deeply concerned in the state and beyond the state, John, they’re even more concerned. In part because, they want to have clean hands when it comes to this president. Whether it's on gender or race. Al Franken found that out, certainly. And they want to be able to sort of prosecute the case against Trump without the Trump folks saying hypocrite, hypocrite.

JOHN KING: Right timing is everything.

MARTIN: Zero tolerance.

KING: Timing is everything in politics. There may have been a time in this Michael Jackson episode if he disclosed it himself in some previous campaign, maybe you can get through it. But you mentioned the state politics issues. Democrats think they can make important gains in the legislature. The business part of being governor. Then there's the national moment. Trump in the White House. Many Democrats call him a racist. This historically diverse Democratic field for president coming out of the 2018 midterms.

(…)

KING: In this moment, this is -- I see it as impossible for him to explain his way out. But is there a path?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA: There was probably a very narrow path after these photos first emerged if he would have handled this, sort of, with the top level of political savvy to sort of narrowly escape this. But he definitely did not do this. He talked about being in the photo the first day. He put out a statement. He put out a video. And then the next day he said, you know, “I checked my memory and I so vividly don't remember this and it wasn't me”. And it left everyone's head scratching about whether or not this was him in the photo. And then he, sort of, dropped this bombshell that, “I was doing the moonwalk and trying to pretend to be Michael Jackson and I participated in blackface then”. It really just, sort of, left a lot of people's head scratching.

(…)

MARTIN: What's fascinating about this Governor is that if you talk to people who know him and who like him, they will tell you, certainly before this and sort of sweet terms that he's from an earlier era. That obviously has a very different resonance now but he comes from an earlier time and place. He’s from the eastern shore of Virginia. A very rural, isolated part of the state. You know, he's 59, but in some ways, he's a little more dated than that. And I think he's trying to save himself there. And he just sort of talks himself into more of a hole by talking about Michael Jackson in that fashion. And by the way, in that room yesterday, his staff was desperately trying to cut off the questions. They wanted him to take three or four questions and then move out of the room. He was determined, I think, to clear his name. And he wanted to stand there and take every possible question. And went for our 40 minutes. And I think the longer in this case, not the better.

(…)

JENNIFER JACOBS: No one is going to defend him but just watch for this. I can almost guarantee that the topic of, is something that happened 35 years ago disqualifying as we take into context? It's always a matter of case-by-case basis, of course, but expect 2020 candidates to get asked questions about this especially as we talk about re-enfranchising felons, giving felons the right to vote again.

KING: It’s a great point. I mean, it shouldn't necessarily be disqualifying but how you handle it – how you handle it and this was not well played. At a minimum. We'll watch this play out throughout the day. We’ll see if the governor has anything else to say today.


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