Before announcing his campaign to become governor of Mississippi, state representative Robert Foster made a commitment to his wife, Heather. He would follow the "Billy Graham Rule" – which, in his words, meant to avoid "any situation that might raise suspicion or compromise of our marriage."
His personal policy, which is also used by Vice President Mike Pence, posed a problem for Mississippi Today reporter Larrison Campbell. Citing "optics," Foster declined Campbell's request for a 15-hour ride, unless she takes a colleague. Campbell and his editor objected that it was sexist and that it prevented him from completing a report on the Republican candidates for governorship.
Mandate limits prevent incumbent President Phil Bryant from standing for re-election, leaving an open seat and fiercely contested elections. Three Republicans asked to run for the primary on August 6: Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the States, Bill Waller Jr., and Foster. There are also eight Democrats in the running.
At the main approach, Mississippi Today planned coverage of the point of sale, including the observation of all three Republican candidates.
Campbell's relationship with Foster dates back to November, when she received an indication that he was considering joining the governor's race. After telling the story, Campbell said that she was watching Foster – calling him "interesting": a Hernando, Mississippi, originally from the "township" "standing to the right of a very conservative lieutenant-governor ", but who also has more progressive ideas, such as expanding the coverage of Medicaid.
Mississippi Today reporter Adam Ganucheau followed Reeves and Waller closely. Campbell, having had several contacts with Foster and her team, said she was proposing to accompany her.
Colton Robison, Foster's campaign manager, told Campbell Sunday that the team was excited about this coverage and had planned a "big day on Thursday". The first-year student representative would drive to the Gulf Coast, giving Campbell access to a 15-hour day.
They discussed the details, then Robison said that he had "a strange request".
"Would it be ok if one of your colleges accompanied you?" he asked the veteran reporter.
Campbell is reminded not to know how to react; she then addressed the issue with her editor, R.L. Nave, who said, "Absolutely not, it's sexist."
Two days later, Campbell suggested that Robison calm Foster's worries: she would keep his press card in plain sight; she would stay with Robison and not Foster. She reminded Robison that there would also be photographers with the team throughout the day.
"We are really concerned about the bad publicity," she said. "Some trackers could take a picture putting (Foster) in a compromising position, which would put his campaign in jeopardy."
Campbell was remembered to have been "surprised and disappointed" during the call and stated that she had asked Robison if "the only reason I would be unduly bound to your candidate is that I am a woman".
Robison nodded, adding, "Perception is everything."
On Wednesday, Foster confided in an email to the Washington Post that he would grant the interview to Campbell, but "we just want it to happen in a proper and professional setting that would not allow us to" To be alone. "
In what Campbell calls "a little fun twist", she told The Post that she was "very openly gay".
In a phone interview Wednesday, Foster said that people should always show respect and professionalism and make sure that there was no opportunity for there to be a moment she said / said.
He added, "Everyone has to make their own decisions about how to act in life, it's mine."
After the phone conversation, Foster tweeted, "The Washington Post, a typical liberal, is now criticizing me for my Christian beliefs – no wonder, considering that they are totally disconnected from America."
On Tuesday, the Mississippi Today reporter published an article detailing what had happened. Many responses received by Campbell mention the current post- # MeToo moment, in which Foster "tries to protect himself". Some have drawn a parallel with a doctor who brings a nurse to an examination room.
"It's a fair point," Campbell told The Post, "but the nurse is on the doctor's payroll.If the doctor feels that he needs to be protected, he does not put the burden on the patient. "
Foster, she explained, essentially said, "You can not do that because you are a woman and you are responsible for putting me at ease." The problem is the notion that the woman bears the burden of putting the man at ease. "
A spokesman for Waller, one of the other Republican candidates, said it would not be a problem for his candidate. "Our campaign has a habit of always having a staff member present during our interviews with the press." A Reeves spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It's not surprising to see this kind of sexism, Campbell said, and it's not unique to the GOP, Mississippi or reporters.
"Political reporting can be an old boys' club, but I think it happens to a lot of women, in a lot of work arenas. That's why it's resonating right now, "she said.