CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King and liberal author Michael Eric Dyson on Monday lamented the “big time” rise of cancel culture sweeping the media. But the big example they mentioned was Virginia’s Democratic Governor, Ralph Northam. Northam, as many will remember, wore blackface and a KKK costume in decades past.
Dyson began with a statement that most Americans would agree with: “I don't think the result and the answer is for us to go around willy-nilly, arbitrarily canceling other people.” But rather than mention someone like fired Mandalorian actress Gina Carano, the CBS guest launched into a defense of a liberal governor:
Ralph Northam is the governor of Virginia. When he was a medical student 20 some odd years ago he dressed in black face. Was it wrong? Of course. Was it ridiculous? Yes. Was it nefarious in instances? But my point was don't cancel him out.
Dyson cynically explained, “Nothing better than a white public official who is conscious of the fact that he owes black people his future because they stand with him regardless of his mistake.”
King noted, “I thought it was interesting because we live in a cancel culture society big time today.” In the wake of Northam’s blackface scandal in 2019, King interviewed the Democrat and tried to save his career: “I marvel that you're still standing when so many people have said, 'You got to go, and you got to go now.' I'm thinking, either he's got a lot of confidence, or he's just a little crazy.”
Then-co-host Norah O’Donnell used the February 11, 2019 interview to call for more “context” to a photo featuring a man in blackface and another in a KKK outfit. (Northam admitted to being in the 1984 yearbook photo, though it's unclear which he is.) Yet, in other instances, CBS pushed the cancel culture agenda. For instance, the network in 2020 hammered the “bloody” Redskins team name.
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A partial transcript of the segment can be found below. Click “expand” to read more.
CBS This Morning
8:37 AM ET
GAYLE KING: Professor Dyson, I want to get your take on cancel culture. One, I did not know that you were an ordained minister. So I was very surprised to read that. I had no idea.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Yes, ma'am.
KING: You said your roots stem from compassion. When you talk about cancel culture, fortunately or unfortunately, in the book, page 163, I'm not sure, I -- I do appreciate your take on that. We're not going to go into that here. But people can read that for themselves. But you talk about cancel culture, and you talk about the Virginia Governor Northam. What was your take on that? I thought it was interesting because we live in a cancel culture society big time today.
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Absolutely. Look, I think the quest for justice is right. I understand the kind of disappointment with the criminal justice system. But I don't think the result and the answer is for us to go around willy-nilly, arbitrarily canceling other people. Ralph Northam is the governor of Virginia. When he was a medical student 20 some odd years ago he dressed in black face. Was it wrong? Of course. Was it ridiculous? Yes. Was it nefarious in instances? But my point was don't cancel him out. Nothing better than a white public official who is conscious of the fact that he owes black people his future because they stand with him regardless of his mistake.
I'm a Baptist preacher, 41 years. I believe in forgiveness. Should we hold people to account? Absolutely. Should they – when they mess up, should they Fess up? Yes. We should address the issue and moving forward. What has he done since then? He has done so many programs including the 10,000 ex-felons who have been restored in terms of their rights, a number who are African-American. When I think of Morgan Wallen in Tennessee, did he do something wrong by using the N-word, absolutely. Was he speaking to black people, no. But he knows he was wrong. He even released a video saying, “Don’t defend me.” I like that he has taken responsibility for his actions. However, let's not let him lose his contract, let's not cancel him altogether. Allow him to be restored. Restorative justice says, somebody has done something wrong. We hold them to account and then put them back into society to allow them to flourish. I don't think canceling somebody is absolutely the way -- it's white supremacy as I argue in the book on the sly. That's the impulse to cancel somebody. Absolutely intolerance.