It is entirely possible that this man is a blithering idiot. It is also entirely possible that he’s a raging bigot. Then again, those two possibilities are not mutually exclusive.
The governor’s damage-limitation efforts risked making matters worse when he told the interviewer that 400 years has passed since the “first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores”.
CBS presenter Gayle King, who is African American, said: “Also known as slavery.”
According to Encyclopedia Virginia, which is produced in partnership with the Library of Virginia, the first Africans to arrive in Virginia were sold in exchange for food in August 1619 from the English ship White Lion.
Unlike indentured servants, who were typically released after paying off the debt of their voyage to America, black slaves were rarely freed.
After the interview aired on Monday, Mr Northam released a statement defending his word choice.
He said that during a recent speech he “referred to them in my remarks as enslaved”.
“A historian advised me that the use of indentured was more historically accurate. The fact is, I’m still learning and committed to getting it right.”
It’s really not that hard to get it right.