Another Mississippi Republican Refuses To Allow Female Reporter To Do Her Job

Bill Waller is the second candidate for GOP nomination for Governor of Mississippi who is refusing to allow female reporters to travel alone with him when he's campaigning.

Following up on a report from last week about Robert Foster, a candidate for the GOP nomination for Governor of Mississippi, refusing to allow a female reporter accompany him on a day of road-trip campaigning, another Republican candidate has laid down the same rule:

Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Bill Waller, a former state Supreme Court justice, told Mississippi Today’s Larrison Campbell that he subscribes to the rule — pegged the “Billy Graham rule” — because it’s “common sense.”

“I just think in this day and time, appearances are important and transparency’s important, and people need to have the comfort of what’s going on in government between employees and people. And there’s a lot of social issues out there about that. My goal is to not make it an issue so that everyone’s comfortable with the surroundings and we can go about our business,” Waller told Campbell, the reporter who was recently barred from doing ride-along coverage of another Republican gubernatorial candidate — state Rep. Robert Foster — unless she brought along a male colleague because he was worried it would look like he was having an affair.

Waller, however, said he would not stoop to request that a female reporter or female colleague provide a male companion to accompany her to a meeting.

“In my situation I always made sure that I was in control of the situation— that’s the way I do business,” he reportedly said.

The candidate, of course, is free to make whatever rules he wishes regarding how he deals with reporters. That doesn’t mean, however, that the decision is the right one or that it’s immune from criticism. In this case, the candidate is obviously basing his “rule” on a view of relationships between men and women that is outdated, archaic, and unfair. In the case, of women, a rule like this basically views all women as nothing more than “temptresses” who will cause men to stray. It’s the same outdated philosophy that leads to dress codes in public schools that require girls to cover-up clothes are clearly not inappropriate out of fears that they will cause teenage boys to be distracted. It’s unfair because it places the entire burden in male-female interaction on women and girls and because it is rooted in a view of men that sees all men as potential sexual predators who are only restrained if the women are dressed blandly and kept as far away from them as possible.

As noted, all of this is rooted in the so-called “Billy Graham Rule,” which gained notoriety shortly after Mike Pence became Vice-President because he apparently has the same policy. Under this “rule,” men simply refuse to be alone with a woman who isn’t their wife whether it is in a social or business setting. The alleged justification for the rule is to “honor” one’s spouse or significant other by not raising the implication of potential bad behavior. In the wake of the MeToo movement, it has also been said that a reason for the rule is to prevent men from being wrongfully accused of inappropriate behavior.

Not only is it rooted in outdated and discriminatory views of the relationship between men and women, it also results in women being treated unfairly for reasons they have no control over. In my own career, there have been plenty of times where I was required to work late with a female colleague and I would not have even thought once about refusing to do so because of my co-worker’s gender. In all such situations, we were both professionals, both adults, and both capable of focusing on the job rather than on the things that people like Billy Graham, Mike Pence, and Robert Foster are worried about. Additionally, a rule like this essentially means that women will routinely be denied access to interactions with their co-workers and superiors that could lead to advancement in their career simply because a given man is afraid that he can’t or won’t control his impulses to behave professionally and appropriately. At its root, the rule is an archaic and discriminatory rule that fails to recognize reality. If men like Foster and Waller can’t control themselves, that’s their problem to deal with. Neither Ms. Campbell nor any other woman should be forced to pay the price for their sexism.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2019, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. DrDaveT says:

    Still waiting to hear the explanation for why the traditional remedy — bringing along a chaperone — can’t possibly work here…

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  2. He doesn’t require the male reporters to bring along a chaperone.

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  3. grumpy realist says:

    I suggest that if he’s that worried he wear the video cameras that police use. That way he’ll even have evidence to back him up.

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  4. Bobo from Texas says:

    This is not outdated thinking, it’s quite the opposite. In the time of #metoo and #believeallomen a simple accusation is enough to end a career. Why take the risk when there is near zero upside and a huge downside?

    Unintended consequences can really suck.

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  5. Thurifer Censer says:

    The author is wrong. The candidate’s rule is not based on an archaic view of relationships. But is a result of the recent, and modern view that believes every man is not just a potential, but a likely rapist.

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  6. michilines says:

    @Thurifer Censer:
    Actually, your explanation would be the case if a female candidate restricted all male reporters.

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  7. Mister Bluster says:

    Just because President Puke is a sexual pervert and self confessed sexual molester of women and “is not just a potential, but a likely rapist.” this does not mean that all American men are.
    Of course this distinction is not recognized by foreign trolls.

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  8. @Bobo from Texas:

    What’s to stop a male reporter from making an accusation?

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  9. Mister Bluster says:

    Unintended consequences can really suck.

    Like Republicans nominating and electing a candidate who will “Make America Great Again” and instead he turns out to be a sexist, racist pig that has no idea what he is doing and appeals to the bigots among us…
    Oh, wait, those are the intended consequences.

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  10. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: IIRC, I think that DrDaveT has been suggesting that the candidate is the one who provides himself with a chaperone.

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  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Bobo from Texas: Yeah, it was really unfair that the Lt. Gov. of Virginia was driven out of office by such accusations.

    (I promise I will not feed the troll again this thread.)

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  12. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    He doesn’t require the male reporters to bring along a chaperone.

    You misunderstand me. Waller should provide the chaperone. After all, it’s his hangup; he should bear the cost and inconvenience. And it would get around the problem of not requiring the same amount of catering to his hangup from men and women.

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  13. DrDaveT says:

    @Bobo from Texas:

    In the time of #metoo and #believeallomen a simple accusation is enough to end a career. Why take the risk when there is near zero upside and a huge downside?

    Absolutely. So he should make sure his chaperone is always present, any time he would otherwise be alone with someone. Voila; problem fixed.

    Why isn’t that the obvious solution, Bobo?

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  14. DrDaveT says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: I didn’t see your clarification in time, and when I tried to edit my response to acknowledge it, the system told me I didn’t have the right to edit that comment. Thanks, though.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Bobo from Texas: @Thurifer Censer: Judging from your comments, I doubt very much any woman would willingly submit to any overtures you 2 might make, so maybe you have a point, but then considering your comments I really doubt any woman would allow themselves the circumstances in which they might be alone with either of you so I suspect you are both quite safe from any unfounded accusations.

    What was your point again?

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  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    A simple solution would be for the press to refuse to cover Walter’s events. Tough to communicate with the public if you can’t get in the news.

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  17. Kari Q says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Waller should provide the chaperone.

    Exactly. He can simply make it a practice to always have a staff member with him during press interactions. He doesn’t even have to say it’s a chaperone, simply say that they are there to provide notes or information that may be needed during the interview.

  18. Slugger says:

    I believe that false accusations have occurred. There are people who are venal who would try to achieve some goal through unscrupulous means, and women are people. There are probably even some psycho women who exhibit Lorelei behavior. However, isn’t all this pretty rare? I know people who refused to wade in the surf on Martha’s Vineyard to avoid sharks, but I think the risk is pretty small.
    Re the Lt. Gov of Virginia; was he accused falsely?

  19. michilines says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    That would be the best solution for both of these men running for office, but I expect that none of the male reporters will stand in solidarity with the female reporter in this way, unfortunately. If they would, it could set a very clear standard and nip this craziness in the bud. Has anyone asked the male reporters if they would basically ignore these two candidates? I’m pretty sure there are ways to report on a campaign without actually being there and still be doing their jobs.
    Had a female candidate done this, the same people crying now (upthread) would be very upset and spluttering about freedom.

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  20. Ken_L says:

    In my own career, there have been plenty of times where I was required to work late with a female colleague and I would not have even thought once about refusing to do so because of my co-worker’s gender.

    But would you feel that way if one of them had subsequently accused you of sexual harassment? I don’t know if these candidates are sincere or sexist or merely trying to avoid press scrutiny, but I don’t think their ostensible concerns should simply be dismissed as unreasonable. In an era when ‘women who make allegations of sexual assault must be heard and believed‘, and unsubstantiated accusations tend to be taken so seriously the onus is on the man to rebut them, Foster and Waller may be exercising nothing but prudent risk management.

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  21. gVOR08 says:

    Meh. The first guy found a way to tell Mississippi voters, “I’m more Evangelical than the other guy.” And now the other guy is saying, “No, I’m as Evangelical as he is.”

  22. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Slugger:

    Re the Lt. Gov of Virginia; was he accused falsely?

    Of course! Isn’t the alternative to #belieallwomen suppose to be #bitchesbelyin?

  23. Guarneri says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Nothing. But you don’t realize you are making his point for him. The defensive tactic is employed because metoo has been elevated and employed as a viable political tool, not because of a sudden epidemic of actual female, or male, harassment.

    See for example, the vile spectacle of the Brett Kavenaugh hearings.

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  24. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    Your cult leader is a credibly-accused rapist. He barges in on naked teen-aged contestants. He’s a pig. So maybe as the devoted toady of President ‘grab ’em by the pussy,’ President whoremonger, President adulterer you should just STFU because along with being a racist you are, by supporting Trump, also an apologist for rape.

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  25. DrDaveT says:

    @Ken_L:

    I don’t think their ostensible concerns should simply be dismissed as unreasonable.

    I didn’t dismiss their concerns. I told you how those concerns could be addressed equitably — by having these men bring their own chaperones to all meetings. You haven’t yet said what’s wrong with that solution.

  26. Bobo from Texas says:

    @michilines: @OzarkHillbilly: What makes you think that either of us lack in the female companionship dept.?

  27. Bobo from Texas says:

    @DrDaveT: Sure and when one is not available he politely declines the request. Win/win!

  28. Bobo from Texas says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Virginia not exactly the best example since the Gov. nickname is Coonman.

  29. Bobo from Texas says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I suspect fear of widespread public mockery.

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @Bobo from Texas:

    Sure and when one is not available he politely declines the request.

    No, when one is “not available” it’s his fault, because it’s his responsibility to provide one and it’s simply never true that he’s traveling alone. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Bobo from Texas: Yeah, and he wasn’t driven out of office either. But thanks for illuminating exactly who and what you are. Appreciate it!

    (Note: sorry. I failed at keeping my promise.)

  32. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT:

    Why is this so hard for you to understand?

    That was a rhetorical question, right?

  33. mattbernius says:

    The vend diagram between conservative Republicans and Muslims is striking. Seriously, if Islam just started using “God” instead of “Allah”, people would totally embrace Sharia and then underlying moral principles. Clearly men and women can’t safely mix.

  34. DrDaveT says:

    The vend diagram between conservative Republicans and Muslims

    Obligatory math nerd correction: Venn diagram. Named for John Venn, who invented them about 140 years ago.

    Apologies if that was just a phone autocorrecting your spelling, but seeing the same error twice in two days triggered my obsessive compulsive response.

  35. mattBernius says:

    @DrDaveT: you know, I knew that it was either Venn or Vend and I guessed wrong.

    Thanks for the correction.

    I need to remember to check next time.

  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @mattBernius: Easy mistake to make. “Vend diagram” and “Venn diagram” pronounce exactly the same because there’s no stop between the two “d”s usually.

  37. Jen says:

    This isn’t a result of the #metoo movement. This garbage idea has been around for ages–I know, because I was passed over for a job opportunity because of this “rule,” which has been part of the conservative evangelical playbook for a long time. The job was in the office of a male legislator, and he ended up hiring a male to do the job. I was friends with the guy who got the position, and it was he who ended up telling me that the legislator’s wife had an issue with me being unmarried & female and that’s why he got the job.

    I ended up with a job working for another legislator (also male) which ended up being better experience, better pay, and nicer office, so my career wasn’t harmed by it, but it sure has stayed with me–particularly the realization that it could have significantly changed my entire career track.

    It’s a dumb and archaic rule, and yeah, if the candidate has issues HE should be the one to cart around his apparently necessary babysitter.