- 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)
GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert Accused of Leading Capitol Tour Before Insurrection
- Rep. Steve Cohen told CNN Monday that he and another lawmaker personally saw GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert guiding a “large” group of people around the Capitol days before the insurrection.
- Numerous representatives have said they saw GOP members leading an unusual amount of tours before the riots. They also said some of the visitors were involved with the rally that preceded the attack.
- Boebert preemptively denied giving tours to insurrectionists last week before any official accused her by name.
- She reiterated that denial in a statement responding to Cohen’s accusations and claimed that she had only ever given a tour to members of her family.
Rep. Cohen’s Claims
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tn.) said Monday that he and a fellow Democratic member of Congress personally witnessed Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Co.) leading a “large” group of people around the Capitol complex in the days before the violent attacks on Jan. 6.
While speaking on CNN, Cohen said that he and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) “saw Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th.”
“I don’t remember the day we were walking in a tunnel and we saw her and commented who she was and she had a large group with her,” he continued. “Now whether these people were people that were involved in the insurrection or not, I do not know.”
Notably, Cohen said he did not know who was in the group or if they were part of the attack. That fact was also echoed by Yarmuth, who confirmed in a statement that he did see Boebert with a group of people around her but added that he “has no knowledge of who they were or if they were with her.”
Over the last few weeks, dozens of Democrats have been demanding that officials investigate whether or not Republican lawmakers aided in the riots. Last Tuesday, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) told reporters she saw some of her GOP colleagues leading “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol with people who she later saw during the riots.
The following day, 31 House Democrats signed a letter claiming they and some of their staffers “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting the Capitol on Jan. 5.
“The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day,” they wrote. “Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex.”
Boebert’s Checkered Record
Until Monday, no lawmakers had named any of the members involved in the alleged tours, but many outlets and political analysts both implicitly and explicitly tied Boebert to the accusations.
In her roughly two-week-long tenure as a member of Congress, the young Republican has received significant heat for her role in the insurrection among other recent, controversial moves.
Last week, Boebert was temporarily banned from Twitter and faced numerous calls to resign for tweeting out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s location during the insurrection.
She has also been widely criticized for publicly announcing she would bring her gun to the Capitol complex, refusing to have her bag searched after she set off a metal detector, and voting to invalidate millions of votes by objecting to the certification of the electoral college.
In fact, Boebert has faced so much scrutiny that she preemptively denied giving tours to insurrectionists last week, even before anyone directly named her. At the time, she issued a statement saying she has only ever given a tour to her children, husband, mother, aunt, and uncle.
Boebert reiterated those claims in a letter to Cohen Monday, where she called his remarks “categorically false.”
“I have never given a tour of the U.S. Capitol to any outside group,” she wrote. “As I previously stated, I brought my family to the Capitol on January 2nd for a tour and on the 3rd for pictures to commemorate the day I was sworn in as a Member of the U.S. Congress.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (CPR News)
Washington, D.C. Ramps Up Security Before Inauguration
- Officials in Washington are ramping up security measures and imposing heavy restrictions ahead of the inauguration Wednesday.
- The National Mall has been closed down since Friday, barricades have been put up all over the city, car traffic has been limited, and many public transit routes have also been shut down.
- Around 25,000 National Guard troops have been deployed from across the country, and the FBI is vetting all of them due to concerns of an insider attack.
- Security has also been significantly increased in many state capitals nationwide following calls for armed protests in all 50 states, but so far, most of the protests at statehouses have been peaceful and exceptionally small.
Capitol Increases Security Measures
With two days to go until the inauguration, security has been massively ramped up in the nation’s Capitol.
While the inauguration is usually a high-security event, Washington has now instituted security measures not seen since the Civil War following a Jan. 6 insurrection attempt on the U.S. Capitol. Intelligence agencies have since warned about more threats of violence.
In an unprecedented move, the National Park Service announced Friday that the National Mall — which usually hosts massive crowds during the inauguration — will be closed until at least Thursday. The inaugural ceremony itself will also be scaled down due to both security threats and the pandemic.
Various barricades ranging from small metal barriers to tall fencing reinforced with heavy concrete blocks have been set up around the Mall and in other parts of the city, such as at federal buildings and businesses.
The Capitol complex itself, which will be entirely shut off to the public on Wednesday, is currently surrounded by a 7-foot fence topped with razor wire.
Over a dozen metro lines will be shut down and more than two dozen bus routes will be detoured around the security perimeter. Car traffic in most of the city will be either banned entirely or limited exclusively to residents and businesses only. Several bridges that connect DC to Virginia will also be shut down, and all street closures are subject to change or to be extended at the discretion of the Secret Service.
In addition to the wide variety of military and law enforcement personnel who are normally involved in inauguration security, around 25,000 National Guard troops have also been deployed from all across the country.
That is nearly two and a half times the number present for previous inaugurations. Notably, officials have been vetting all 25,000 coming to Washington because they are worried about an insider attack.
States Ramp Up Security
It is not just D.C. that is ramping up security. There have been mass deployments of the National Guard and other law enforcement officers to state Capitols all across the country. According to The New York Times, 19 states have deployed their National Guards following calls for armed protests in all 50 states.
So far, most of the activity that has been seen around statehouses are small, peaceful demonstrations by a few people, some of whom are armed. Even the most attended rallies had two dozen people or less.
Notably, all of the largest demonstrations documented so far have reportedly been held by or included members of the Boogaloo Boys, a far-right group that wants to start a second Civil War. The group showed up in some of the highest numbers in front of the Capitol buildings in Ohio, Michigan, and Utah.
As was the case with all of the other demonstrations so far, the protestors have been far outnumbered by security officials — and in some cases, spectators.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CBS News)
Analysts Say Online Misinformation Has Plummeted 73% Since Trump’s Twitter Ban
- Online misinformation fell 73% in the week following President Donald Trump’s ban on Twitter, according to the San Francisco-based analytics firm Zignal Labs.
- The firm also found that QAnon-related hashtags and phrases saw a decrease in use. Since the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Twitter has banned more than 70,000 accounts associated with QAnon.
- Meanwhile, Poland’s government has now introduced legislation to crack down on bans and content removal by social media platforms.
Misinformation Onlines Drops
A recent analysis from a San Francisco-based analytics firm suggests that online misinformation has plunged 73% since Twitter first banned President Donald Trump on Jan. 8.
Twitter — followed by a host of other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat — enacted the ban following the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump insurrectionists.
According to the firm, Zignal Labs, discussions of election fraud on various sites dropped from 2.5 million mentions to just 688,000 between Jan. 9 and Jan. 15.
Zignal Labs also found that the use of common hashtags and phrases associated with QAnon conspiracy theories dropped off during the same time frame. Part of that is likely because, alongside Trump’s ban, Twitter banned more than 70,000 QAnon accounts.
“Bottom line is that de-platforming, especially at the scale that occurred last week, rapidly curbs momentum and ability to reach new audiences,” Graham Brookie, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, told The Washington Post. “That said, it also has the tendency to harden the views of those already engaged in the spread of that type of false information.”
On Sunday, Twitter also temporarily suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-Ga.) account. According to Twitter, Green’s page was locked for 12 hours because of “multiple violations of our civic integrity policy.”
Green’s account includes a treasure trove of false claims about voter fraud in Georgia. She’s also peddled QAnon conspiracy theories.
Poland Seeks to Regulate Social Media Bans
News of decreased misinformation online also comes as Poland’s hard-right Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has proposed a new bill marketed as a “freedom of speech protection” law.
Notably, if it passes, that law would prevent social media platforms from deleting content or banning users who don’t break Polish law.
If a platform refuses to comply with an order to restore either a banned user or deleted content, it could face fines of anywhere from $13,000 to $13 million dollars.
Despite this, domestic regulations on their own are likely to be ineffective. Because of that, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki is also lobbying the European Union to regulate the issue.
Critics of the law have argued that the “over-removal” of content on social media is a “non-existent risk,” especially when compared to hate speech targeting the LGBTQ+ community, Muslims, and refugees.