Gubernatorial Candidate Explains His Sexism to Female Reporter He Banned: ‘My Truck, My Rules’

Gubernatorial Candidate Explains His Sexism to Female Reporter He Banned: ‘My Truck, My Rules’

This week news broke that a male Republican candidate for governor of Mississippi turned down a request for a local female journalist to ride along with him for a day of campaigning unless she brought a male chaperone along. The result was a couple of days of the candidate’s supporters praising him for being a good man keeping a vow to his wife that he would never be alone with another woman and the reporter’s supporters reminding the public that this is the year 2019.

Thursday morning, CNN’s New Day hosted both the candidate, a state representative named Robert Foster, and the reporter, Larrison Campbell, to each give their side of the story. The result was a fascinating peek into the paranoid male mind.

The segment began with Campbell explaining that her outlet, Mississippi Today, has been sending reporters on these ride-alongs with all the candidates running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in order to give the paper’s readers as much information as possible about them.

Foster responded with some gobbledygook about running a small campaign and not having the resources to have his (male) campaign manager along. This, in his mind, could apparently lead to his being accused of something untoward:

“I didn’t want to end up in a situation where me and Ms. Campbell were alone for an extended period of time within that 15 to 16-hour day. So out of precaution I wanted to have her bring someone with her, a male colleague…I don’t trust the perception that the world puts on people when they see things and they don’t ask questions, they don’t look to find out the truth. Perception is reality in this world and I don’t want to give anybody the opinion I’m doing something I should not be doing.”

Or, to put it more simply, he was convinced someone would accuse him of having sex with a female reporter if they were alone together in his truck all day. And he’d rather avoid immature rumors than be respectful of a reporter trying to do her job.

 

Campbell then asked, quite sensibly, how Foster thinks he can tell the voters of Mississippi he can do the job of governor if he can’t be alone with a woman who might work for him. To which Foster responded with some more gobbledygook about the difference between being alone in a room with people right next door and being alone in a truck for 15 hours.

The question here is one of equal access, as Campbell pointed out. If men like Foster insist on never being alone with female work colleagues, that is a barrier to women being able to do their jobs. It’s unfair to the women and unfair to Foster’s potential constituents.

The segment ended with Campbell flat-out calling Foster’s attitude “sexism.” Afterwards, he posted his response on Twitter:

Watch both parts of the interview above, via CNN.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.