Feb 6, 2019

The past resurfaces with a vengeance

This afternoon, Virginia's attorney general admitted to wearing blackface in the past, while an accuser detailed her sexual assault allegations against the state's lieutenant governor.

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Diagram: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The big picture: In decades past, these allegations might not have ever become public. Now, they're impossible to dismiss. And that's not just true for public officials.

  • High-profile business leaders are being warned to run an opposition-research scan on themselves, as if they were political candidates, to search for problematic yearbook and other images from the past.
  • That advice, reported by the Wall Street Journal, reflects a sudden surge in attention to racism and #MeToo accusations, some going back decades.

Be smart: In corporations, this new scrutiny is expected to extend to new hires of senior talent, a PR executive told the WSJ.

  • "As a best practice, companies should be doing background checks on all senior level and board hires, digging in 25 years or more. 'You have to go back both virtually and physically,' [the exec] said, identifying 'high school and college activities, fraternities, nicknames, everything.'"

The bottom line: This isn't just a problem from the past, and it's not just confined to the old south.

  • Jan. 24, 2019: "Florida secretary of state resigns after photos reveal he wore blackface" (Axios)
  • Jan. 22, 2019: "University of Oklahoma says students involved in blackface video 'will not return to campus'" (CNN)
  • April 11, 2018: "Blackface Leads to Fraternity Suspension at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo" (NYT)
  • Oct. 3, 2016: "Pennsylvania College Students Suspended Over Blackface Video" (Reuters)

P.S. Fallout over blackface isn't just limited to those who wear the offensive garb. NBC host Megyn Kelly's show was canceled last year after she said she didn't know why wearing blackface was seen as racist.

Go deeper: Virginia's 3 highest ranking state officials all land in hot water

Go deeper

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 6,703,686 — Total deaths: 393,393 — Total recoveries — 2,906,748Map.
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Scoop: German foreign minister to travel to Israel with warning on annexation

Heiko Maas. Photo: Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is expected to travel to Israel next week to warn that there will be consequences if Israeli leaders move forward with plans to annex parts of the West Bank, Israeli officials and European diplomats tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli and European officials agree that if Israel goes ahead with unilateral annexation, the EU will respond with sanctions.

Minneapolis will ban police chokeholds following George Floyd's death

A memorial for George Floyd at the site of his death in Minneapolis. Photo: Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Minneapolis has agreed to ban the use of police chokeholds and will require nearby officers to act to stop them in the wake of George Floyd's death, AP reports.

Why it matters: The agreement between the city and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, which has launched an investigation into Floyd's death while in police custody, will be enforceable in court.