A few days ago there was a photo circulating which showed Ralph Northam in a school club with a few other guys, one of whom was named Terry Smoot. Smoot was notable in the photo because he was wearing a pair of plaid pants that looked like they might be the same pants that appeared in the blackface photo from the medical school yearbook. Yesterday, Smoot spoke to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and clarified that he’s definitely not the guy wearing blackface in the photo.
“The whole notion is so absurd,” Smoot said in a phone interview Tuesday. “They are not the same pair of pants. People are really reaching.”…
They’re featured together in a “Hi-Y” club photo in their senior yearbook. Hi-Y is a YMCA club. Northam is listed as the president; Smoot was the treasurer.
Smoot said he and Northam were friends in high school but went their separate ways after graduation. Northam went to Virginia Military Institute — where a yearbook caption calling him “Coonman” has sparked controversy — then on to Eastern Virginia Medical School. Smoot attended Virginia Tech.
By 1984, Smoot was working, he said. He now works for the federal government.
Smoot tells the Times-Dispatch, “I certainly want the world to know that’s not me.” He means the blackface photo, not the unfortunate plaid pants.
The Hi-Y photo above was from High School when Smoot and Northam knew one another. By the time of the medical school yearbook photo in 1984, Northam and Smoot were not in frequent contact. Smoot didn’t attend EVMS so he definitely wasn’t at the Halloween party in question. Not the same pants. Not the same guy. So any argument for Northam’s innocence based on that photo is history.
And given what we learned yesterday about how the yearbook was assembled, with each student submitting a sealed envelope of pictures for their page, it’s increasingly difficult to believe that Northam didn’t at least select the photo. Here’s what a member of the yearbook staff said:
Seniors at Eastern Virginia Medical School were allowed to submit up to three photographs in a sealed envelope to appear alongside a formal school picture on their personal pages in the 1984 yearbook, according to a former student who said he helped design most of those pages.
Designers would open the envelope and draw spots numbered one through three on a page to show where each photo should go, said Dr. William Elwood, who served on the Harbour’s staff the year a photo of a man in blackface standing beside a man in Ku Klux Klan garb appeared on Gov. Ralph Northam’s page…
“In my experience, the most likely thing is he submitted that picture. … Is it possible somebody could’ve switched the pictures after the fact? Yes. Is it probable? No.”
One last wrinkle I was reminded of yesterday. Northam’s roommate Rob Marsh, who helped plan the Halloween party in 1984, says he remembers Northam came to the party dressed as a lawyer. But in his second public statement—the one where he denied being in the photo—Northam said, “My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes I made in this same period of my life.”
So the closest thing Northam has to a witness in his favor is his roommate who says he dressed as an attorney. But Northam is on record saying he does not recall attending the party at all and he ties that directly to his lack of memory of wearing blackface. If Northam was wrong about attending the party, how can we trust his memory about not being in the photo? How can we trust his memory that he never saw it or submitted it for his page? The answer is, we really can’t.
I still don’t know whether Northam is one of the two men in the blackface photo. I’ve tried to give him every benefit of the doubt. I hate to see anyone get railroaded by the SJW mob. But at this point, Northam is running out of alternative explanations and also out of time. Here’s the clip of Northam’s 2nd statement queued up to the point where he says he didn’t attend the party: