Call it the “f-bomb” that sent social media across West Virginia into a frenzy.
During Monday’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Jim Justice seemingly uttered the expletive in explaining how businesses are to reopen under his six-week plan to restart many closed businesses and activities in the state.
At the 13:54 mark on the YouTube video, Justice attempts to state: “Again, I encourage all businesses that are allowed to open to do so only if they can follow the guidelines to keep West Virginia safe.”
In midstream, Justice appears to attempt to change his statement from “if they follow guidelines” to “if they can follow guidelines.” In doing so, the audio captures Justice making the “fa” sound from follow, immediately followed by the words “can follow.”
As a result, viewers and listeners heard what sounded like the governor stating, “Again, I encourage all businesses that are allowed to open to do so only if they can f***ing follow the guidelines to keep West Virginia safe.”
Shortly after he made the statement, broadcast live on many state television and radio stations and streamed live on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, social media lit up with multiple posts regarding the governor’s apparent use of the curse word.
Soon after, videos of Justice’s utterance were posted on social media.
The uproar was such that, later Monday night, Justice posted a video on social media blaming the incident on an audio glitch, and not only denying that he had said the word Monday, but that he had never used the word in question.
“It sounded like that I had said a bad word, a word I would never say, nor have I ever said. No possibility in any way, shape, form or fashion,” Justice said in the video.
By Tuesday, Justice’s statement was generating national news coverage, including an article on Newsweek magazine’s website.