Accuracy in Media

Big League Politics, a news website staffed by former Breitbart employees, scored a major journalism coup Friday when it revealed photos from the yearbook of Ralph Northam, Virginia’s embattled Democrat governor, included one of someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood standing next to someone in blackface.

No sooner did the scoop go viral than the mainstream media moved to cast shade on the source and rehabilitate the governor.

“The web site Big League Politics first posted the picture Friday afternoon,” wrote Laura Vozzella, Jim Morrison and Gregory Schneider of the Post in  “Va. Gov. Northam’s medical school yearbook page shows men in blackface, KKK robe.”

“Big League Politics is a conservative website founded by Patrick Howley, a former writer for the Daily Caller and Breitbart. It is owned by Mustard Seed Media, an outfit headed by Reilly O’Neal, a political operative whose clients included former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.”

It also attempted to rehabilitate Northam’s image. It used a long quote from Senate Minority Leader Richard Saslaw of Fairfax saying no one “would like their college conduct examined.”

It quoted a Republican state senator saying he had not talked to the governor but stood by him.

It then talked of Northam.

“Northam has built his 12-year political career on a clean-cut image as a soft-spoken doctor and Army veteran who headed Honor Council at VMI, a demanding job that required him to pass judgment on fellow students who lied or violated the school’s honor code.”

Later, it wrote, “Northam is not a dynamic public speaker but has a reputation for sterling character that has won the trust of Republicans, who worked with him last year to pass Medicaid expansion after four years of resisting it under previous governor Terry McAuliffe.”

He “paid special attention to black churches” in his gubernatorial campaign. “His home pastor is African American. After the radial violence in Charlottesville that summer, Northam was among the quickest Virginia political figures to react, making an emotional plea that all Confederate monuments should come down.”

It is not clear from the photo that either of the people in it is Northam, and his office has not commented.

But below the photo it reads: “Alma mater: Virginia Military Institute. Interest: Pediatrics. Quote: There are more old drunks than old doctors in this world, so I think I’ll have another beer.”

Both people in the photo have cans in their hands.

The photo is from the yearbook of the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, where Northam graduated in 1984. Northam got his undergraduate degree at Virginia Military Institute and is a pediatric neurologist.

Major newspapers had to follow, especially given the governor’s week. On Wednesday, he advocated for infanticide on the “Ask the Governor” radio show on WTOP in Washington in response to a question about legislation that had been proposed by a Democrat member of the Virginia House of Delegates that would have allowed abortion up to the time of birth for almost any reason.

Northam, who supported the legislation before it died in committee, was asked how it would work if a mother wanted an abortion shortly before the birth of her child, “The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

The governor attempted to overcome the media outrage with a press conference on Thursday in which he doubled down on his calls for third-trimester abortions.

The page from the yearbook has a collage of photos. Northam is kneeling on something with a white cowboy hat in one of the photos. He is sitting against a Corvette convertible in another. In the third, there is a person in blackface wearing a sports coat, bowtie and checkered slacks on the left and a person in a white Klan hood with a pointed hat on the right.

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