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'Big League Politics' Editor On Publishing Controversial Yearbook Page


We're going to go back now to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam's yearbook photo that features a man in blackface next to someone dressed as a Klansman. The image was first posted Friday by the website Big League Politics, which is described by the fact-checking site Media Bias/Fact Check as, quote, "strongly right-biased." Joining us now is the founder and editor-in-chief of Big League Politics, Patrick Howley. He's also a former writer for Breitbart and Daily Caller, which are also conservative websites. Patrick Howley, thanks so much for talking to us.

PATRICK HOWLEY: Michel, thank you for your time.

MARTIN: What led you to this photo? And why publish it now?

HOWLEY: Well, I work with whistleblowers all around the country. And this was a citizen whistleblower who is concerned that Ralph - that he's a racist. And you know what? He is a racist. And I think we've shown the world that he is a racist because he was clearly one of the two people in that photo. Either he was in the Klan robe, or he was in blackface and...

MARTIN: Well, he says he wasn't, so I don't know that - how clear it is. But, anyway, to that point, though, Fox News contributor Dan Bongino tweeted that the photo had actually been kicking around in conservative circles for months before it was posted on Friday. And he says that he'd been sent a copy of the photo in October of 2018, but he couldn't independently verify that Northam was one of the men in the photo. Can you?

HOWLEY: Michel, I don't know anything about that. But I know that I wrote this story the day that I learned about it because I was so moved by this person's story. And if you look at what this story is accomplishing with progressives and conservatives and libertarians and people all over the country who are affected by this and who are working together - and I think that's very important. I think the mainstream news narrative needs to get out of the 2D narrative.

MARTIN: The website - the - your website says you don't consider yourself or you don't consider the site liberal or conservative. How do you describe the mission of your website?

HOWLEY: It's just to provide an independent service for investigative citizen journalism all over the country. I don't believe that journalists should be sanctioned or licensed. I think that citizens with cellphone cameras can be journalists all over the country. And I try to provide a network for that, and I do a very good job of checking the authenticity and the facts of everything that we publish. So I knew - you know, I got this photo in. I checked it out. I - and it was a bombshell. And Ralph has to answer to this.

MARTIN: Is it true that your site is now owned by a political consultant who worked for the failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and the unsuccessful Virginia Senate candidate Corey Stewart whose campaign was based on his support for the Confederate monuments? And isn't it true that your site has also written favorably about white nationalists, such as the candidate Paul Nehlen, who ran against Paul Ryan.

HOWLEY: I have never written anything favorable about white nationalists. And, Michel, if - you know, I'm an independent person. And my contribution this week is I have helped get the word out about Ralph Northam, who is, obviously, a white supremacist...

MARTIN: But I don't see the same level of outrage about Congressman Steve King's comments about white nationalism. For example, on your site, the headlines about Steve King include Representative Steve King Gets Last Laugh, Wins Re-Election In Iowa Despite Haters And Losers and Watch Steve King Slams New York Times On House Floor Over Racism Story. So would it not be unreasonable for someone to argue that it isn't really the racism that troubles you, it's liberals, it's Democrats, it's people you consider insufficiently conservative?

HOWLEY: No because knowing Iowa very well, I know Steve King, and I know that he's not a racist. So I take it on a case-by-case basis.

MARTIN: I see. OK. Well, that was - where do you think the story goes next, Mr. Howley, very quickly if you can?

HOWLEY: Well, you know, Ralph is going to have to answer to this. And I believe that he should resign.

MARTIN: That's Patrick Howley. He's the founder and editor-in-chief of Big League Politics. Mr. Howley, thanks for joining us.

HOWLEY: Thank you, Michel.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.