- On Tuesday, Mississippi Today reporter Larrison Campbell published an article saying she was denied access to a gubernatorial candidate because of her gender.
- Campbell explains she had requested to accompany GOP candidate, Robert Foster, during a 15-hour campaign trip and Foster would not allow it unless a male accompanied the reporter.
- Foster defended his decision and said it was to protect himself from any compromising rumors that could come from him and Campbell being alone.
- Campbell says this incident is an example of sexism and how women in the workforce are viewed as sexual objects before their job title.
Larrison Campbell, a female reporter for Mississippi Today, published an article on Tuesday explaining that one of the Republican candidates for Mississippi Governor, Robert Foster, said Campbell would only be allowed to accompany him on an upcoming campaign trip if she was joined by a male colleague.
According to Foster’s campaign manager, Colton Robison, “perception is everything.”
“We are so close to the primary,” Robison added. “If (trackers) were to get a picture and they put a mailer out, we wouldn’t have time to dispute it. And that’s why we have to be careful.”
Campbell wrote that both she and her editor “agreed the request was sexist and an unnecessary use of resources given this reporter’s experience covering Mississippi politics.”
Once the article was published, Foster defended his decision on social media saying it was a decision he and his wife made before he even entered the race based on the “Billy Graham Rule.”
Billy Graham was a prominent evangelical Christian and in the mid-1940s, he and three other men got together to create the “Billy Graham Rule,” which states: “We pledged among ourselves to avoid any situation that would have even the appearance of compromise or suspicion.”
According to Graham’s autobiography, after the rule was decided he “did not travel, meet or eat alone with a woman other than [his] wife.”
On Wednesday, Foster did a radio interview on the Gallo Show, a morning news show in Mississippi, and defended his decision.
“It’s just gonna be a lot of opportunities where it would have been an awkward situation that I didn’t want to put myself in,” Foster explained during the show. “And I’ve always had the same practice in business. I’m not alone with a female employee and putting myself in a position to have a ‘he said she said’ moment. I just always want to have that buffer there, of having a system of professionalism.”
He goes on to say that the news coming out about the incident with Campbell is “slanted,” because the media’s agenda “doesn’t align very often with the conservative agenda.”
“I would much rather be called names by the liberal press than to be put in a situation where it could do damage to my marriage or my family,” he added.
Foster continued to call out the media coverage, tweeting about how he knew “the liberal left” would react this way.
Campbell has also spoken out about the interaction since her article was published.
In a phone interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, she said she has conducted many interviews with Foster in previous years and even broke the news that he would be running for governor.
“We wouldn’t have that kind of relationship if I were a biased writer,” Campbell explained to the paper. “It’s just sexism, and that’s not a liberal or conservative issue.”
Also on Wednesday, Campbell tweeted an email she had received, supporting Foster and saying his decision was “purely common smart damn sense.”
Campbell continues to tweet, telling her followers that this happened because people view women as a sexual object.
So even though his campaign admitted that the request was “weird” and Foster was the one who felt uncomfortable–he was totally comfortable making it my responsibility to fix it. He made the rule, but I had to make it better /3— Larrison Campbell (@thisislarrison) July 10, 2019
See, most folks, when they see a man in a work setting, like say a business meeting or on the campaign trail w a candidate, assume that the man is there to work, not sleep with the person they’re next to. That’s because to most people, men are people first, not sexual objects /7— Larrison Campbell (@thisislarrison) July 10, 2019
Women don’t get the same courtesy. The “appearance of impropriety” arises only when you see a reporter, not as a reporter, but as a sexual object.— Larrison Campbell (@thisislarrison) July 10, 2019
I wanted to cover Foster because I love my job. His campaign refused my request because they sexualized me. How’s that not sexism?/8
On Thursday, both Foster and Campbell spoke on CNN’s New Day.
Foster continued to double down on his decision, stating that it’s his truck and his campaign, so it’s his rules that will be followed.
Campbell responds by asking the politician, “why is it my responsibility to make you feel comfortable?”
“Why does it appear improper for a man to be with a woman?” she continues. “I mean, why wouldn’t like a gay affair be construed if you were with a man? Unless, at the end of the day, what you’re saying here is, a woman is a sexual object first, and a reporter second.”
Which she follows up by questioning how Foster can be confident in his ability to govern the state if he can’t interact with half the population.
“If a woman did this, if a female candidate did this, people would say: ‘she’s making men bring people along with her? Like she can’t, if she doesn’t feel comfortable doing this, she can’t do her job.’ How can you do your job? How can you like, tell Mississippians, that you will be a good governor if you can’t, you know, be alone in a room with a woman?”
Foster states that being in a room with a woman is different than being on a campaign truck, which is where Campbell would have interviewed Foster if her request was approved.
As the news of Foster’s request spread, social media responded with mixed reactions.
Many supported Campbell, with some tweeting how they personally viewed Campbell as a reporter.
Others were thrilled to see someone talk about the issues women covering politics face.
At the same time, there were some that sided with Foster, saying he did the right thing and Campbell is just attacking him.
My husband and I have the same rule and I’ve had it for years myself too being in Politics. It’s just a smart, safe and easy decision to make. You continue to make me proud @RobertFoster4MS ! Thank you for everything you do and standing firm on your convictions.— Cheramie Kay Mitchell (@CheramieKay) July 10, 2019
Honestly shame on you, you’re attacking a good man and trying to make everything about sexism. Respect his vows. Respect his religious beliefs. He has nothing against women, I really respect him for taking this heat and standing his ground. Enjoy ur 15 mins of fame. Ew— Sports Guru (@SportsGuruNY) July 11, 2019
The primaries for Mississippi are set for Aug. 6. According to a January 2019 Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy report, only 9% of citizens in Mississippi at the time said they would vote for Foster.
See what others are saying: (Mississippi Today) (New York Times) (CNN)
Judges Uphold North Carolina’s Congressional Map in Major GOP Win
The judges agreed that the congressional map was “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting” but said they did not have the power to intervene in legislative matters.
New Maps Upheld
A three-judge panel in North Carolina upheld the state’s new congressional and legislative maps on Tuesday, deciding it did not have the power to respond to arguments that Republicans had illegally gerrymandered it to benefit them.
Voting rights groups and Democrats sued over the new maps, which were drawn by the state’s Republican legislature following the 2020 census.
The maps left Democrats with just three of North Carolina’s 14 congressional seats in a battleground state that is more evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. Previously, Democrats held five of the 13 districts the state had before the last census, during which North Carolina was allocated an additional seat.
The challengers argued that the blatantly partisan maps had been drawn in a way that went against longstanding rules, violated the state’s Constitution, and intentionally disenfranchised Black voters.
In their unanimous ruling, the panel — composed of one Democrat and two Republicans — agreed that both the legislative and congressional maps were “a result of intentional, pro-Republican partisan redistricting.”
The judges added that they had “disdain for having to deal with issues that potentially lead to results incompatible with democratic principles and subject our state to ridicule.”
Despite their beliefs, the panel said they did not have a legal basis for intervening in political matters and constraining the legislature. They additionally ruled that the challengers did not prove their claims that the maps were discriminatory based on race.
Notably, the judges also stated that partisan gerrymandering does not actually violate the state’s Constitution.
The Path Ahead
While the decision marks a setback to the plaintiffs, the groups have already said they will appeal the decision to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
The state’s highest court has a slim Democratic majority and has already signaled they may be open to tossing the map.
There are also past precedents for voting maps to be thrown out in North Carolina. The state has an extensive history of legal battles over gerrymandering, and Republican leaders have been forced to redraw maps twice in recent years.
A forthcoming decision is highly anticipated, as North Carolina’s congressional map could play a major role in the control of the House in the 2022 midterm elections if they are as close as expected.
See what others are saying: (Politico) (The New York Times) (The Wall Street Journal)
Biden Administration Says Private Insurers Will Have to Cover 8 At-Home Tests a Month
The policy will apply to all the nearly 150 million Americans who have private insurance.
New At-Home Testing Policy
The Biden administration announced Monday that private health insurers will now be required to pay for up to eight at-home rapid tests per plan member each month.
Under the new policy, starting Saturday, private insurance holders will be able to purchase any at-home test approved by the FDA at a pharmacy or online. They will either not be asked to pay any upfront costs or be reimbursed for their purchase through their provider.
The move is expected to significantly expand access to rapid tests that other countries have been distributing to their citizens free of charge for months.
According to reports, nearly 150 million Americans — about 45% of the population — have private insurance.
Each dependent enrolled on the primary insurance holder’s account is counted as a member. That means a family of four enrolled on a single plan would be eligible for 32 free at-home rapid tests a month.
All tests may not be fully covered depending on where they are purchased.
In order to help offset costs, the Biden administration is incentivizing insurance providers to establish a network of “preferred” pharmacies and stores where people in the plan can get tests without paying out of pocket.
As a result, health plans that do create those networks will only be required to reimburse up to $12 per test if they are purchased out of that network, meaning people could be on the hook for the rest of the cost.
If an insurer does not set up a preferred network, they will have to cover all at-home tests in full regardless of the place of purchase.
During a briefing Monday, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said tests should be “out the door in the coming weeks.”
“The contracts [for testing companies] are structured in a way to require that significant amounts are delivered on an aggressive timeline, the first of which should be arriving early next week,” she added.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
Biden Administration Unveils Plan To Replace All Lead Pipes
The effort builds on the $15 billion allocated under the bipartisan infrastructure bill for lead pipe replacement, but industry leaders say $60 billion will be needed for nationwide revitalization.
White House Outlines Actions on Lead Pipes and Paint
The Biden administration rolled out a sweeping plan on Thursday to remove all the nation’s lead pipes over the next decade and take other steps to prevent lead paint contamination.
Lead, which was commonly used in piping for municipal water systems all over the country until it was banned in 1978, is a dangerous neurotoxin that can cause serious nervous system damage, especially in children.
Contamination from lead pipes seeping into water supplies has caused multiple high-profile public health and environmental catastrophes over the last decade, including the notorious crisis in Flint, Michigan.
According to a White House factsheet, an estimated 10 million households are connected to water through lead pipes. Children and teenagers in 400,000 schools and child care facilities also risk exposure to lead-contaminated water.
“Because of inequitable infrastructure development and disinvestment, low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to these risks,” the factsheet stated.
To address those disparities and revitalize water systems across the nation, the White House outlined 15 new action items the Biden administration is taking, including:
- Launching “a new regulatory process to protect communities from lead in drinking water” through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Clarifying that state, local, and Tribal governments can use the $350 billion aid allocated under the American Rescue Plan to replace lead service lines.
- Establishing federally-operated regional technical assistance hubs “to fast track lead service line removal projects in partnership with labor unions and local water agencies.”
- Awarding federal grants through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to remove lead paint in low-income communities.
- Directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to expand childhood lead testing.
- Establishing “a new Cabinet Level Partnership for Lead Remediation in Schools and Child Care Centers.”
The White House also said it will direct the EPA to allocate $3 billion for state, local, and Tribal governments to replace lead pipes through funding that was approved under the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed by President Joe Biden last month.
A Matter of Funding
In total, Congress provided $15 billion to revitalize the nation’s lead-pipe systems under the infrastructure bill.
However, industry experts have estimated that it will cost $60 billion to entirely overhaul all the remaining lead pipes in the U.S.
As a result, the Biden administration has proposed several additional funding mechanisms in the social safety net package, known as the Build Back Better Act, that is currently being negotiated by Congress.
Specifically, the legislation would set aside $9 billion for lead remediation grants to disadvantaged communities, $1 billion for rural water utilities to remove lead pipes, and $5 billion for mitigation efforts such as removing lead-based water fixtures in low-income households.
The Build Back Better Act would additionally provide $65 billion for public housing agencies and $5 billion for other federally-assisted housing organizations to improve housing quality, including by replacing lead pipes and service lines.
The status of that legislation, as well as what provisions will remain in the final version, remain in limbo. While Democratic leadership has pushed to pass the sweeping social bill before the new year, all 50 of the party’s members in the Senate will need to sign on, and moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) has continued to withhold his support.