News & Politics

Is It an Insult for a Male Candidate to Refuse to Meet Alone with a Female Reporter?

Participants march against sexual assault and harassment at the #MeToo March in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

A candidate for Mississippi governor is in hot water because he refused a request to be interviewed by a female reporter unless she was accompanied by a male companion.

Robert Foster informed Larrison Campbell, a reporter for Mississippi Today, that her request for a “ride-along” with the candidate would be refused unless she was escorted by a male colleague.

New York Post:

“In two phone calls this week, Colton Robison, Foster’s campaign director, said a male colleague would need to accompany [Campbell] on an upcoming 15-hour campaign trip because they believed the optics of the candidate with a woman, even a working reporter, could be used in a smear campaign to insinuate an extramarital affair,” Campbell wrote in a column Tuesday.

“The only reason you think that people will think I’m having a (improper) relationship with your candidate is because I am a woman,” she reportedly told Robison, to which he said: “Can’t risk it.”

Yes, he’s a bit paranoid about an oppo campaign to smear him, but there’s something else that Foster is thinking about. In the age of #MeToo hysteria, Foster claimed he was following “The Billy Graham Rule,” which suggests that men avoid spending any time alone with females who are not his wife.

#MeToo hysterics pounced on that defense like a pack of hungry hyenas. Monica Hesse, writing in the Washington Post:

But unfortunately, there’s not a single inch of moral high ground achieved via the Billy Graham rule, which purports to honor marriage vows. In similar fashion, Vice President Pence once said he would not dine with a woman to whom he wasn’t married. But rules like these don’t honor your wife. They just presume that your marriage vows are so flimsy that you can’t be trusted to uphold them unless a babysitter monitors you. It’s rather like a thief sanctimoniously announcing that he brings a parole officer every time he goes to the bank to make sure he doesn’t rob it. Good for you, dude, for knowing your own limitations — but it doesn’t make you better than the rest of us, who manage to regularly not steal things even when we’re completely alone.

Or, as writer Jeremy White offered: “[The rule] presumes either: A) you can’t be trusted or B) women can’t be trusted. Everyone invoking that rule should be prepared to answer which is true.”

Screw the insult, ladies. The stone-cold reality is that men in high-profile positions have been forced to protect themselves from lying, backstabbing, revenge-seeking women.

Here are a couple of irrefutable facts: Some men are pigs. Most are not. Some women are lying, backstabbing, revenge-seeking harpies. Most are not.

But in an age where an accusation — even, or especially without proof — can bring a man to ruin, it makes perfect sense not to take any chances at all.

Whether Foster is sincere about his concerns regarding marriage is unknown. But you can be damn sure he’s dead serious about protecting himself from false accusations of improper or even criminal behavior.