- 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)
FLOTUS Calls for Public to Take Cloth Mask Advice Seriously, President Chooses to Go Without
- The CDC has recommended that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- The advice is aimed at stopping presymptomatic and asymptomatic carriers from spreading the coronavirus to others around them.
- Officials have released DIY instructions for homemade masks that can be made at a low cost and can be washed.
- President Trump stressed that the guidance is voluntary and said he will not wear a mask himself, though the First Lady has called for people to take the advice seriously.
President Donald Trump announced Friday that the Center for Disease Control is advising everyone in the U.S. to wear face coverings in public settings to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, though he himself has chosen not to follow the voluntary measure.
“CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission,” the CDC’s memo reads.
Previous guidelines only advised healthcare workers to wear masks, as well as those who are sick or caring for a sick person who is unable to wear one. However, the CDC’s new recommendation is aimed at stopping presymptomatic and asymptomatic carriers from spreading the virus to others around them.
To avoid taking critical supplies like N95 respirators and surgical masks from healthcare workers, the CDC is advising that people use cloth face coverings which can be washed and made from household items at a low cost.
Wearing face coverings is a voluntary decision and the CDC noted that they should not be placed on “children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.”
However, it’s important to note that wearing a face-covering is just an additional public health measure that can be taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It is not a substitute for social distancing.
Since that announcement, swarms of DIY instructions and videos have surfaced showing different ways to make masks at home. The CDC themselves posted both sew and no-sew instructions using items like cotton T-shirts, or a bandana and coffee filter.
They even released a 45-second video with U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams quickly putting one together with rubber bands and folded fabric.
Their guidance says to use a covering that fits snug, can be secured with ties or ear loops, includes multiple layers of fabric, and allows for breathing without restriction. These masks don’t offer full protection, but some is better than none and they can be especially helpful when paired with other tactics like hand washing, not touching your face, and social distancing.
There is little data so far on cloth or homemade masks in general, but the material most often recommended by experts is a tight weave or quilted cotton.
Experts also warn that you should wash or dispose of your masks after each use. Don’t fidget with your masks when wearing then, be sure to remove them by the ear straps to avoid touching whatever may have landed on the front surface, and wash your hands thoroughly before and after.
Trump Says He Won’t Wear a Mask
When making the announcement, President Trump said that he himself was choosing not to wear a mask.
“With the masks, it is going to be really a voluntary thing,” he said at the daily coronavirus briefing. “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I am choosing not to do it. But some people may want to do it, and that’s OK. It may be good. Probably will — they’re making a recommendation. It’s only a recommendation, it’s voluntary.”
“I’m feeling good. I just don’t want to be doing it…I think that wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I don’t know,” he added. “Somehow, I don’t see it for myself. I just dont, maybe I’ll change my mind.”
That was, of course, met with some backlash, but it highlighted the battle between the White House and CDC over the measures. For weeks, the White House coronavirus task force has debated whether or not to issue such a recommendation.
Senior officials pushed to limit the guidance to high-transmission areas only, fearing that the call for the wide use of masks could cause unnecessary panic and provide a false sense of security. They also argued that even with the call for cloth coverings, the guidance might prompt people to try and get their hands on medical masks that are already in high demand at hospitals.
But federal health officials and experts from the CDC said the guidance only makes sense if it is broadly applied. They argued that it is an additional way to slow the spread and prevent communities with low transmission from quickly becoming an area with a high volume of cases.
FLOTUS Supports Cloth Masks
Despite the President’s remarks, First Lady Melania Trump has stressed the importance of wearing masks. On Friday, she tweeted, “As the weekend approaches I ask that everyone take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously. #COVID19 is a virus that can spread to anyone – we can stop this together.”
She made a similar call on Sunday, this time sharing the CDC’s information.
President Trump was asked about her tweets during a coronavirus task force press briefing on Sunday, replying, “It’s good, no, she feels that way.”
“Would you like me to wear one right now in answering your question?” He asked jokingly. “That would be a little awkward I guess. But no, I mean, I again, I would wear one if I thought it was important.”
“She likes the idea of wearing it, yeah she does,” Trump continued. “A lot of people do. Again, it’s a recommendation, and I understand that recommendation, and I’m ok with it.”
Cities like New York and Los Angeles had already called for face coverings in public, but some areas are now strictly enforcing the measures.
In Laredo, Texas, the city’s emergency mandate calls for anyone over the age of 5 to wear “some form of covering over their nose and mouth” when using public transportation, taxis, rideshares, pumping gas or when inside a building open to the public. The penalty for violating the order is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $1,000.
Other cities might soon start enforcing the measures as well, as numbers of cases and deaths continue to climb across the country.
Jared Kushner Says Federal Medical Supply Stockpile Isn’t for States to Use
- Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, said that the federal stockpile was not intended to be used by states at a coronavirus briefing Thursday night.
- Many were quick to point out that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services described the stockpile as one to be allocated to states when in need, contradicting Kushner’s remarks.
- The language describing the stockpile was later changed on the Health Department’s site, deemphasizing the federal government’s role in giving resources to states.
- Kushner was criticized by many who also slammed his lack of government experience.
Jared Kushner drew swift criticism after he took the stage at the White House’s daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday night and said the federal stockpile wasn’t meant for distribution among states.
It was the first time President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law spoke at one of these briefings. Vice President Mike Pence introduced him as “someone that the white house coronavirus task force directed to work with FEMA on supply chain issues.”
“We’re grateful for his efforts and his leadership,” Pence said.
When Kushner first stepped up to the podium, he praised the efforts that his team has been making to track down supplies. The 39-year-old kept repeatedly emphasizing the importance of data — the “real data from the cities, from the states, [so] that we can make real time allocation decisions based on the data.”
Kushner seemed to suggest that local officials should be more diligent about finding resources in their own states before turning to the federal government for help.
“The notion of the federal stockpile is it’s supposed to be our stockpile,” Kushner said. “It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpile that they then use.”
He then addressed the criticism that the federal government has received from state officials about not providing enough resources, a criticism Trump has been defensive about.
“So I would just encourage you, when you have governors saying that the federal government hasn’t given them what you need, I would just urge you to ask them, ‘well have you looked within your state to make sure that you haven’t been able to find the resources?’” Kushner said.
Stockpile Description Changed
Many were quick to note that Kushner’s comments did not line up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ description of the national stockpile.
“Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out,” the website read.
“When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency,” it initially said.
But following Kushner’s remarks on Thursday evening, the language on the site was changed to downplay the federal government’s role in giving resources to states.
“The Strategic National Stockpile’s role is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies,” the description now says, noting that many states have their own stockpiles as well.
“The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available,” it says.
Backlash for Kushner
Many were swift to slam Kushner for his comments about the stockpile not being intended for states’ use.
“Who the hell does the nepotist think ‘our’ refers to? It is for the American people . . . as the federal government’s OWN strategic national stockpile website assures us!” Former White House ethics director Walter Shaub wrote on Twitter.
“Dear Jared Kushner of the @realDonaldTrump Administration: We are the UNITED STATES of America. The federal stockpile is reserved for all Americans living in our states, not just federal employees. Get it?” Rep. Ted Lieu said.
Others pointed to Kushner’s background as a real estate developer and newspaper publisher, with no government experience prior to his father-in-law’s 2016 election.
“Kushner has succeeded at exactly three things in his life,” New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg wrote in an op-ed piece. “He was born to the right parents, married well and learned how to influence his father-in-law. Most of his other endeavors — his biggest real estate deal, his foray into newspaper ownership, his attempt to broker a peace deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians — have been failures.”
More criticisms of Kushner’s lack of qualifications were thrown across social media.
“Can anyone tell me what Jared Kushner’s qualifications are besides being a white man?” one person asked.
Need for Medical Supplies Continues
Despite what Kushner says, leaders are still expressing their desperation for adequate medical supplies as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the country.
On Thursday night, Cory Gardner of Colorado, a Republican senator, was sending a letter saying he expected the federal stockpile to be available for states to use.
“The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) … includes clear expectations to ensure that the Department of Health and Human Services’ SNS procurement and maintenance decisions support the federal government’s ability to support states and localities in a public health emergency,” Gardner wrote.
“The SNS is a critical resource for states facing grave public health emergencies, and we must take every step to make sure that there is a robust supply of working medical supplies and equipment on hand,” Gardner added.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio requested more medical personnel and supplies in an interview with CNN on Friday morning.
“We can only get to Monday or Tuesday at this point. We don’t know after that. How on earth is this happening in the greatest nation in the world?” de Blasio said.
See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (USA Today)
Mainstream Media Slammed for Ignoring Joe Biden Sexual Assault Accusations
- On March 25, a former Joe Biden staffer accused Biden of sexual assault. While this story gained some traction, most major news outlets did not cover the story in much detail.
- This led to frustration online among people who thought claims against a high-profile and influential figure who could be the Democratic nominee for President should be getting attention on every level.
- Others, however, called the story’s credibility into question. Since the piece comes from just one source, some understood why media organizations might be hesitant to cover it.
On March 25, presidential candidate Joe Biden was accused by a former staffer of sexual assault, but these allegations have yet to make their way to most mainstream media outlets, leading to frustration and criticism.
Tara Reade, who worked for Biden in the 90s, says that the former vice president assaulted her in 1993. Speaking on The Katie Halper Show, she claimed he penetrated her with his fingers when they were alone in a room together. Halper says she corroborated this with Reade’s brother and a friend who learned of the incident when it happened. Both said they told Reade to say nothing at the time.
Biden’s team has denied these allegations, but this is not the first claim against Biden or even the first claim against him from Reade. Last year, she and another woman, Lucy Flores, accused him of harassment and inappropriate touching. Still, when Reade brought forth her assault claim, major outlets like CNN, NBC, Fox News and more were hesitant to report on it in depth or even at all.
Criticism of Media
People online, however, were very vocal about their concerns. The Hashtags #TimesUpBiden and #IBelieveTara made their way around Twitter.
Others specifically called out outlets for not reporting on this news. YouTuber Mykie “Glam and Gore” mentioned several organizations in a tweet before claiming that if the tables were turned and this came out about candidate Bernie Sanders, it would be front-page news.
The idea that the lack of coverage stemmed from a political bias in favor of Biden and against Bernie is a fairly common belief among Sanders’ supporters. Many shared that same sentiment on Twitter, claiming that the media would protect Biden no matter what.
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, many conservatives also believed the mass media was intentionally not covering the story to protect Biden, the presumed Democratic nominee.
“Will the liberal media cover this the same way they did when it was Brett Kavanuagh? I doubt it,” one Twitter user said.
Biden supporters have defended him, however, claiming that Reade’s story is not credible. Some have even gone on to accuse her of being a Russian asset.
While the notion of her being a Russian asset is a conspiracy theory at best, the question of her credibility could be a large factor as to why mainstream media has not leaped on the story.
Without casting doubt on Reade, it is easy to see why news organizations would raise their eyebrows at running with a story that largely comes from one source on a podcast. A piece in Salon noted that for stories like this, journalists usually go through a long series of talking to sources on every side of the issue, verifying accounts and getting into the meticulous details before publishing.
“Women who tell these stories inevitably get blasted by skeptics who pick their stories apart, so it’s critical to their safety that the reporting holds up under close scrutiny,” Amanda Marcotte, the article’s author wrote. “That’s only going to be more true when the story has major political implications or confusing twists that could be interpreted as red flags — or both, like this one does.”
Jezebel was also critical of the one source allegation, saying that the media silence might have more to do with this than an allegiance to Biden.
“Part of the media’s silence about the podcast is perhaps not because of any fealty to Biden, but because of the way Halper, who also co-hosts Rolling Stone’s Useful Idiots podcast, aired the allegations—with little context, few follow-up questions, and no additional reporting,” Jezebel’s Emily Alford wrote.
While all this may be true, Arwa Mahdawi explored credibility issues in a piece for The Guardian, noting that many sexual assault stories come with the same levels of uncertainty.
“Reade’s story may be impossible to verify, but this is the case with the vast majority of sexual assault allegations,” she wrote.
Mahdawi also said that it is frustrating to see people and media outlets either use this story for political gain, or to ignore it in its entirety. Still, she says that whether or not this allegation gets coverage, it may not even impact 2020 in the long run.
“It is also hugely unlikely that Reade’s accusations will do any damage whatsoever to Biden’s ambitions,” she wrote. “Allegations of sexual assault certainly haven’t posed any hindrance to Trump. The allegations against Kavanaugh didn’t stop him from becoming a supreme court justice. The allegations against Louis CK didn’t kill his career in comedy. ”