Amid backlash over an old photo of a man in blackface next to an individual in Ku Klux Klan robes, one of whom is Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, CNN’s Don Lemon rebuked the Democrat for the “disgusting and offensive” show of racism.
Opening his Friday night broadcast, Lemon asked, “Maybe it’s good we’re having this discussion, but how many discussions like this are we going to have?”
The image, which surfaced earlier in the day from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook, has prompted calls across the country for his resignation.
Though the governor has since apologized in a video posted to social media, Lemon rejected the narrative that he simply made a mistake.
“There’s no way he didn’t know what he was doing when he posed for that picture ― a picture that is a slap in the face to Americans of color ― quite frankly to every American,” Lemon said.
Still, the anchor emphasized that the image wasn’t as shocking as some of the public may feel. Having been in high school the year the photo was taken, Lemon said it was what “people did” at the time. Those surprised by Friday’s news “have been living in a bubble,” he contended.
“It deeply hurt people like me. So if you even thought it was OK ... then you owe people like me in this country a huge apology.”
Despite the blowback, as of early Friday morning, Northam had yet to step down. He has not clarified which individual in the photo is him.
In his apology, Northam said the “behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career.”