A female reporter who was denied access to a Mississippi gubernatorial candidate because he didn’t want to be seen spending time alone with a woman who is not his wife is speaking out, saying, “How’s that not sexist?”
The candidate meanwhile is doubling down, saying he refuses to change his “moral stance on any issue because it’s not popular among the radical left.”
Larrison Campbell, a reporter for Mississippi Today, revealed Tuesday that when she asked to follow Republican candidate Robert Foster on the campaign trail, his staff said she would have to bring a male colleague along. Foster told The Associated Press he made the request because “it’s unprofessional to be alone with a woman who’s not my wife.”
Campbell reported that Foster’s team insisted she comply, even though his male campaign manager would be with them, because the candidate didn’t want to risk the optics of people thinking that he and she had an improper relationship.
Mississippi Today denied the request, the reporter wrote. “My editor and I agreed the request was sexist and an unnecessary use of resources given this reporter’s experience covering Mississippi politics.”
On Twitter on Wednesday evening, Campbell further articulated why she found the request sexist, “Why, you ask, would this guy not see the absurdity of demanding I bring in the reinforcements he requires?” she wrote, adding, “Uh… probably because at the end of the day, he doesn’t see me as someone who belongs there.”
“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,” Campbell wrote.
The reporter also retweeted an article she wrote last year that says she is married to a woman with whom she has children. “Was wondering when folks would catch on to this,” Campbell said in the retweet.
Foster, who is running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in the Aug. 6 primary against Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr., has doubled down on his position.
“I refuse to change my moral stance on any issue because it’s not popular among the radical left,” he tweeted Wednesday night. “My wife and the State of Mississippi deserve a governor who doesn’t compromise their beliefs, and I’m sticking to my guns.”
In light of the #MeToo movement, he said he doesn’t want to put himself “he said, she said” position.
“I will not be intimidated into a corner of silence by a group of radical Socialists and Communists whose goal in life is to dismantle America,” Foster tweeted. “In fact, I’m looking forward to fighting their radical, left-wing agenda.”
Mississippi Today reported that Foster has used the controversy in a campaign fundraising email that says he has been “attacked” by the “liberal media.”
Campbell said she is simply trying to do her job as a journalist. “I wanted to cover Foster because I love my job. His campaign refused my request because they sexualized me. How’s that not sexism?”
NBC News reached out to Campbell, Foster and Mississippi Today for comment.