Journalism Woman, Mississippi Man

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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43 Responses

  1. JoeSal says:


    The Good Society: you should trust us!

    Robert: nope!Report

  2. Tod Kelly says:

    Way off topic, but what the hell is that reporter doing on CNN there?Report

  3. This makes no sense. Doesn’t Foster already travel with campaign staff?Report

    • George Turner in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      No. He’s running a low-budget, grass-roots campaign. All he has, so far as I can tell from his interviews, is that he has a campaign manager, but one who often isn’t traveling with him.

      He’s also said that the day’s campaigning would have been 12 to 14 hours riding in his truck. There is no way I’d let anyone I’m not very familiar with ride with me in my vehicle for 12 to 14 hours. The reporter was off base even asking to do that.

      Would you let me ride around with you all day long?

      And that’s all he should have said, something to the effect of “Don’t be silly. Of course not.”

      I’d have been more mischievous and added things like:

      “Do you think you can listen to Conway Twitty cranked to 11 for 14 hours straight? Cause that’s how I roll.”

      “Sure, but I’ve gotta warn you that I’ve been taking this medication that causes uncontrollable flatulence. You know them ads that spend two minutes listing side-effects? Yeah. And it’s foggin’ up the windows, paint peelin’, eye-waterin’ flatulence. But it’s up to you!”

      “Oh, you’re gonna love all my coon dog stories. I got tons of ’em! I could go on all day. I had this one dog, well, he wasn’t my dog, he was my friends dog, but anyway, this dog was playing with one of my dogs out by the barn over by the creek, and this possum was on this limb right out a reach, and them two dogs was sittin’ there just a barkin’, and…”Report

      • Would you let me ride around with you all day long?

        Absolutely, if you kept feeding me straight lines like that.Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to George Turner says:

        If I was running a low budget campaign, hell yes I’d let a reporter be with me all day. It’d be like having a free press secretary.

        The only appearance of impropriety is in this guy’s head.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

          You can make that argument on principle, but you can’t make it on results. Unless her article was going to get national coverage.Report

          • Slade the Leveller in reply to Pinky says:

            It doesn’t need national coverage, just Mississippi coverage. Unless the guy is a Bidenesque gaffe machine, there’s nothing but good that could result from something like this.

            I’ve had one on one meetings with female co-workers and not once have I come out of them thinking I wonder if anyone thinks we’ve been knocking boots in there. The whole thing is utterly preposterous.Report

  4. fillyjonk says:

    Methinks the candidate doth protest too much.

    I have known men who had “the Graham rule” in place (mostly men in “trusted” careers, like ministers) but they didn’t trumpet it from the rooftops. It was more….if they were going to be speaking with a woman, they arranged for someone else to be in the room (presumably as a witness, to avoid he-said, she-said)

    For that matter, why doesn’t he get his wife to hang out with them when he’s interviewed, if he feels like he needs some kind of a chaperone?

    I think this is all just a big Look At Me. And like the famous cartoon about broccoli, “I say it’s spinach and to Hell with it”

    All that said: I’m a college prof and when I meet with students I do not close my office door. Even for confidential matters – I just turn up the classical music I stream in my office. Because yeah, sometimes you do have to protect yourself a little bit. (I once had an angry student block my office door…)Report

  5. InMD says:

    I used to find this kind of thing risible but now I’m not so sure. I think fillyjonk is probably right. There’s making a rule to protect yourself and then there’s an over the top stunt to make a point. Sadly we should probably expect more of this as long as the ‘believe all allegations no matter how absurd or discredited’ mobs are out there.Report

  6. I have emailed several of my favorite female performers, explaining that while I respect them highly both as artists and as individuals, my religious scruples forbid me from spending time alone with them.Report

  7. Chip Daniels says:

    I’m on record several times advocating for a new etiquette, a formal set of shared rules and norms which guide our behavior so as to make everyone feel comfortable and safe.

    But I’ve also noted each time that the history of such rules is that they get gamed and weaponized to serve the opposite purpose intended.

    This guy is Exhibit A.

    He somehow takes a message of “We are all fallible beings so its best to avoid the appearance of impropriety” and turns it into “I am the lord and master of my property and anyone in it must bend the knee to my will”.Report

  8. Great piece as always! Now I gotta go listen to that song…Report

  9. Pinky says:

    This guy is doing the smart thing for his marriage, and it probably works out to be the smart thing for his campaign.Report

  10. Saul Degraw says:

    Our nation is really dumb sometimes. This is decadentReport

  11. Damon says:

    A long time ago, I called the wife and said that I was going out to dinner with a former supervisor and would be home late. She was in town on a business trip. Her response was “you’re having dinner in public alone with a single woman, as a married man”..or words to that effect. I chose to invite a third person to dinner. It keeps the rumor mill at bay.

    I’d probably say what this guy said about his truck…but 100% he’s using this for coverage….nothing i have issue with..he’s a politician..Report

  12. Aaron David says:

    In our post-Kavanaugh witchhunt, Title IX loss of civil-rights era, I can’t say that I blame him one bit. It also effectively signals to potential voters that he will not be lied about by unfriendly “journalists.” Which, when you think about it, is pretty savvy. Would that the world hadn’t come to this, but here we are.Report

  13. Mark says:

    Mr. Foster is running as a Republican. The head of that party is Donald Trump. When it comes to sexual propriety, he strains at gnats but swallows camels.Report

  14. Mike Dwyer says:

    I maintain a Graham Rule at work, which I rarely have to invoke, but the only person who knows about it is my boss, who is also a close friend. I don’t announce it to my coworkers and I put the responsibility on myself. With all of that said, I’m confused about the timeline here…. Did Foster make this a public spectacle first, or was it the reporter writing about it that first made it public? If the former, yeah, he’s using his rule to score political points, which is gross. If it’s the latter, this feels like journalistic activism and I would put the kerfuffle more on her.Report

    • If I had tried to have a Graham Rule at work, particularly for travel, I would have been shuffled off into a less interesting (and lower paid) corner. For example, demo infrastructure prep often ran late into the night — sometimes at my regular building, sometime in a strange city somewhere — and on more than one occasion meant working alone with a woman.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Michael Cain says:

        If I was stuck in the office late at night I wouldn’t worry about it. We have cameras everywhere. For me it’s more about the out-of-the-office stuff. Car rides, hotels, etc.Report

    • greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Never had any such rule in my work life. In mental health, social services and court work the women folk are all over the place. Wouldn’t be possible to function if i couldn’t meet with a woman alone. Never been an issue.

      I believe the timeline was that the reporter announced it since she couldn’t get an opportunity male reporters could get. That denied her an opportunity to do her job based on her gender. That is the kind of thing that should be wrong and pol, even a lower tier one, should be dinged for.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to greginak says:

        Our HR department actually recommends we never meet alone with an employee, male or female. Too much opportunity for hearsay, etc. I made that mistake years ago and the employee was so confused about what we discussed that they reported me. Hearing HR’s version of what they were told I said was like the most hilarious game of telephone ever. Several members of our management staff have actually requested permission to record every personnel conversation just to cover their asses.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      The candidates safest dodge would have been, “I’d let you go with me, but if I spent all day riding all over the state with a pretty reporter my wife would keep bringing it up for the next fifty years.” Nobody would second guess it, and the reporter wouldn’t take it as sexist or insulting. Both men and women would just think “Good point.”

      On an only vaguely related note, the other day I saw a complaint that resonated with me.

      “Porn gives young people a completely unrealistic impression of how fast a plumber will show up.”Report

    • Jesse in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Yes, damn journalist being an “activist” by reporting a candidate for Governor refuses to let a reporter on a campaign trip because of that reporters gender. The kerfluffle is totally on the side of the political candidate who is trying to discriminate based on gender.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse says:

        Did other reporters ask to do the same thing and he allowed it? Because of male reporters also wanted to tag along, it seems like he could invited them AND her and been in compliance with his rule. That’s how I handle it. I just find a business justification to bring along a third employee.

        I suspect she knew he had this rule and asked anyway…but I’m pretty cynical about the motivations of people these days.Report

  15. Philip H says:

    So as the apparently lone Mississippian in the room . . . this is a virtually unknown state Republican running in a hot lot contested primary to replace a middling popular Republican governor who is term limited and is running against the Republican Lieutenant Governor who is wildly popular on the Right (though known colloquially as Tater Tot). He’s already been panned for this stunt by the remaining daily papers in Mississippi and while he got his 7.5 minutes of fame out of it, he’s not likely to actually win anything from this stunt.

    As to her relationship with him professionally – she has been a political reporter in Jackson fro several years and covered him routinely in his current position, in both open fora and interviews where, presumably, she and he were alone together. Up to this point she has had no other access issues, so I believe her request was probably routine. I haven’t seen reporting of any other reporters asking or being denied – though she is not the only female political reporter in the state or in Jackson. Point being, he’s trying to break almost insurmountable party odds and this stunt probably seemed like a good way to do it, misogynistic as it is.Report

  16. Philip H says:

    As a coda to this unfortunate chapter – Mr. Foster received 66,441 votes (17.8%). Clearly his gambit didn’t work.Report