We are now at the two week anniversary of the Virginia Election Day red wave that started with Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin’s epic victory over Democrat nominee Terry McAuliffe, and which continued on with Winsome Sears winning the Lt. Gov’s race, Jason Miyares winning the state Attorney General battle, and Republicans retaking the House of Delegates.
Obviously, it was a terrible night for Democrats, so much so that a Democrat group in the state apparently set about trying to do a little post-election smearing of Youngkin by way of trying the “yearbook attack” approach similar to the infamous one involving then-Gov. Ralph “Blackface” Northam, the latter of which put Virginia Dems in a very awkward spot in early 2019, especially after Northam retracted his initial admission that he was the guy in blackface seen in a 1984 college yearbook photo.
But back to the attack on Youngkin, the Blue Virginia website published a now-deleted post last Friday (archived here) in which they tried to suggest that Youngkin appearing at a Norfolk Academy prom event with his date in 1985 was 50 shades of racist and stuff because the theme of the prom was “An Oriental Occasion.” Public radio reporter Ben Paviour ran with the attack, and posted this screengrab from the story (Youngkin and his date are seen in the upper corner on the far right):
New governor, new yearbook photo. Jeff Thomas with @bluevirginia surfaced a photo of Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin at a high school prom event called "An Oriental Occassion," where white people dressed in traditional Asian garb.https://t.co/AxA2AcoVCz pic.twitter.com/ZTveUjEylY
— Ben Paviour (@BPaves) November 12, 2021
The article’s author, Jeff Thomas, noted that “Youngkin’s yearbook featured white students offensively dressed in ‘rice hats,’ sandals and geisha robes serving their tuxedoed, all-white peers,” but evidently didn’t have any luck finding any photos of Youngkin partaking in the “racist” part of the prom. Indeed, the lone photo we see shows Youngkin and his date dressed in pretty standard prom fare for the time.
An addendum to the post that was added by the site’s founder Lowell Feld indicated they’d contacted the McAuliffe campaign shortly after publishing the story in an attempt to find out if they knew about it and if so why they didn’t run with it:
[UPDATE by Lowell 10 am – After Jeff Thomas posted this story, I spoke with McAuliffe spokesperson Jake Rubenstein and he told me the McAuliffe campaign DID “vet” Youngkin’s yearbooks, but that for whatever reason(s), this story never appeared in the media, was never tweeted out, etc. As I said to Jake Rubenstein, I’m just completely baffled as to how this story didn’t come out during the campaign. Sure, it’s POSSIBLE it might not have made a difference in the election, but it COULD have – we’ll never know now, and note that the election was VERY close, including for control of the VA House of Delegates, the AG race, etc.! – and it was certainly something Youngkin’s campaign would have used if the shoe had been on the other foot! Ugh…]
“I’m just completely baffled as to how this story didn’t come out during the campaign.” Seriously? I’m just completely baffled at how these clowns could consider this a legitimate attack that would have sunk Youngkin’s campaign, considering he is literally doing nothing wrong judging by the photo. And you’ve got to think that even the McAuliffe campaign with all the catastrophic blunders they made, it sounds like not even they would touch this story, apparently realizing it was a sure loser.
Flashback to a few days later, and we’re now learning that the post attacking Youngkin for having the audacity to show up at an Asian-themed prom with his date has been pulled by Blue Virginia, with this announcement made on their Twitter page:
FYI, we took down Jeff Thomas' piece on Youngkin's yearbook, b/c: it claimed Youngkin wasn't vetted, but the McAuliffe campaign insists it DID thoroughly "vet" him (including the yearbook); Youngkin was in a tux (nothing offensive) and was very young at the time. So…deleted.
— Blue Virginia (@bluevirginia) November 15, 2021
In other words, our smear attempt failed miserably, mea culpa, please move along and forget about this embarrassing moment because we’re gonna need to try and get our credibility back in time for midterms because we as the Blue Virginia website do not want to be responsible for the state going even redder. LOL.
I think the moral of the story here is that you just cannot one-up the Northam blackface incident on the cringe scale in Virginia politics, no matter how hard you try. You simply can’t:
— Chet Cannon (@Chet_Cannon) November 12, 2021