Many of my friends on Facebook and LinkedIn asked me to comment about the Virginia political Crisis PR scenarios going on there. Before I do, let me ask Virginia voters to do elect better people.
Now, I’ll reset the events.
The governor, Ralph Northam, and attorney general, Mark Herring, find themselves the subject of racist accusations from photos showing both of them wearing blackface in college. Concurrently, the lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, stands as the subject of a criminal investigation and articles of impeachment for an overwhelming preponderance of sexual assault accusations.
The whole saga reached such a level that Saturday Night Live did a bit this past weekend lampooning the complete tone-deafness of the entire state-elected bodies.
Herring, the only one of the three to appropriately respond to their calamity, issued a public apology and left it there. Northam, on the other hand, couldn’t have reacted worse. While he initially apologized, the Governor soon retracted the statement, claiming he traveled that weekend when the event occurred.
Okay, fair enough. Assuming that, it does means that at some point, Northam did wear blackface in college. You don’t admit to initially doing so under any circumstances unless, at some point, you did conduct such an act. Not stopping there, the Governor exacerbated the problem by holding a press conference, at one point appearing to consider showing off his Michael Jackson moonwalk skills. Someone should award his wife a medal for stopping him. At this point, I don’t know how Northam continues as a governor. More importantly, who advised this guy on the proper way to respond to the media? Where were Northam’s press secretary and attorneys to prepare for the gotcha questions? Any Crisis PR event means preparing for rude Q&As that can derail you from staying on message.
As for Fairfax, who denies having any non-consensual sexual relations with any of the accusers, will have his day in court, but he would do himself a great favor by resigning instead of giving the impression that he intends to hold on to power at all costs. The Lieutenant Governor’s message will not receive enough consideration without stepping down.