Embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made a couple of media rounds this weekend and one place he agreed to sit down with was the Washington Post.
The Post reported that Northam, a Democrat, vowed to make racial reconciliation a focal point for the remainder of his time in office:
Gov. Ralph Northam, in his first interview since a racist photo from his medical school yearbook came to light a week ago, promised to pursue racial reconciliation as he defended his vow to stay in office despite widespread calls for his resignation.
Northam (D), 59, said he wants to spend the remaining three years of his term trying to ensure that black Virginians have the same opportunities as whites.
Northam seemed chastened and subdued as he described a week of grappling with what “white privilege” means, with the reality of African American history, and with the personal failing of growing up after desegregation and the civil rights era while somehow not realizing that blackface is offensive.
What was rather fascinating about this piece was that the Post noted it was a highly conditional interview, conducted purely on the governor’s terms:
Northam’s office restricted the interview to 30 minutes and stipulated that neither the audio nor a full transcript of the interview be released. Otherwise, there were no limitations on what could be asked or published.
Another news media outlet, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, notes that Northam, “declined numerous requests for an interview this week” with RTD journalists. The only other interview he did over the weekend was a TV interview Sunday with CBS This Morning‘s Gayle King.
It didn’t go very well.
It’s good that the WaPo was upfront about the conditions of the interview. In fact, it’s not an uncommon practice for conditions to be made between news outlets and public figures for access.
But these types of conditions? That takes it too far.
We had the national newspaper that just paid millions of dollars to run a Super Bowl ad in defense of journalism agreeing to withhold the full transcript and audio of the interview they did with an elected official, and one who is under a gigantic microscope.
Though the paper’s reporting seemed fairly comprehensive, Virginia is in a state of crisis right now, and the people there deserve to hear the unedited version of what their governor has to say about the issues they’re facing.
The newspaper that proudly began displaying the slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” atop their website a month after Trump’s inauguration has unfortunately decided to leave readers “in the dark” on the full interview they did with a Democratic governor.
Governor Northam got to pick and choose who he talked to this weekend, got to do it on his own (friendly) turf (the executive mansion), and got the paper to agree to withhold the full transcript and audio.
This is not a good look. Not for the governor. And not for journalism.
–Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter.–