July 11, 2019

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July 11, 2019

Good Thursday morning. Today’s newsletter includes a must-read story about the 48 hours that nearly stopped Donald Trump’s presidency before it started, as well as more fallout from the Vanity Fair-Jeffrey Epstein story. But we start with controversy in Mississippi.

Mississippi spurning

We talked to the reporter who was told she’d have to bring a male colleague to get access to a gubernatorial candidate.

Robert Foster is a first-term Republican Mississippi state representative who is a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

I spoke Wednesday with Larrison Campbell, a reporter from Mississippi Today who wanted to tag along with Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert Foster for a day on the campaign trail. Campbell knows Foster well and even broke the story that he was running for governor.

Foster’s camp said Campbell could spend the day with Foster, but only if she brought along a male colleague. Foster was invoking the “Billy Graham Rule,” meaning he didn’t want to be alone with a female for fear it would look like he was having an affair.

In a phone interview, Campbell told me, “The inherent sexism — not only in his request, but just the Billy Graham rule in general. I’m trying to do my job, and they are sexualizing me. They are saying, ‘You’re not a reporter first. You are a sexual creature.’ They’re saying people are more likely to believe that you’re on this campaign trail because you have a relationship with him than because you’re just doing a job. It’s infuriating.”

Foster has defended his position on Twitter and in a radio interview, as well as lashing out at the media for attacking someone for their “integrity, professionalism, and Christian beliefs.”

But imagine a scenario in which Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren told a male reporter that he had to bring along a female colleague. Would the reaction be the same? Campbell said she sees the whole ordeal as sexist.

“If you see a man in a work-related space with another man, well then, he’s doing work,” Campbell said. “If you see a woman there, she must be having an affair.”

‘Mother is not going to like this.’

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton debate Oct. 9, 2016 — two days after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape went public. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

We all remember the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in which then-presidential candidate Donald Trump was discovered to have made derogatory comments years earlier about grabbing women. But you might not know the whole story. Tim Alberta has a fascinating behind-the-scenes piece in Politico Magazine about how the story broke and the reaction among Trump, his inner circle and other Republicans. The story is an excerpt from Alberta’s upcoming book, “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.”

Among the compelling details:

  • Then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was so furious that he uninvited Trump to an event in Wisconsin and told Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, “This is fatal. How can you get him out of the race?”

  • Running mate Mike Pence was so upset that he hunkered down in prayer back home in Indiana, and Trump (referring to Pence’s wife) said, “Mother is not going to like this.” The story said disappointing Pence was Trump’s biggest regret.

  • In a meeting, Priebus told Trump, “I’ll tell you what I’m hearing. Either you’ll lose in the biggest landslide in history, or you can get out of the race and let somebody else run who can win.”

Two days after the tape hit the news, Trump debated Hillary Clinton. Later, Trump would say, “That debate won me the election.”


Cutting remarks

Graydon Carter in 2016. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

There’s more fallout over reporter Vicky Ward’s allegations that former Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter edited out sexual assault allegations she had put in a 2003 profile of Jeffrey Epstein, the businessman arrested this week on sex trafficking charges. Former Vanity Fair contributing editor Kim Masters, in a story for The Hollywood Reporter, wrote, “Having seen my own pieces nipped and tucked and altered for reasons that seemed to have nothing to do with journalism, I believe her. So should you.”

Masters said no story she worked on was as “important” as the Epstein piece, but she did give her account of several stories edited for reasons other than journalism. One such example, she claimed, involved actor Mike Myers of “Saturday Night Live,” “Wayne’s World” and “Austin Powers” fame. She wrote that Myers was as “deeply unpopular in the industry as it was possible for an important talent to be. There was no way the piece could have been flattering.”

However, she said Myers called Carter and “suddenly my copy was different.”

Master wrote, “In the end the piece still wasn’t positive but it was no longer accurate. Some of my sources felt betrayed. It was not just embarrassing; it was damaging to me.”

It was her last story for Vanity Fair.

More Mo

Comedian and journalist Mo Rocca hosts the 30th National Geographic Bee Championship in 2018. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Mo Rocca has signed a two-year contract extension to remain on “CBS Sunday Morning,” according to Variety’s Brian Steinberg. This gives me a chance to ask two things:

Is there a more interesting show on television than “CBS Sunday Morning?” And is there a more interesting reporter on “CBS Sunday Morning” than Mo Rocca? The answer to both questions is no.

Louder than a lion

Thursday’s sports cover of The New York Times. (Courtesy of The New York Times)

The New York Times had excellent coverage of Wednesday’s ticker-tape parade in New York City for the United States’ women’s World Cup champions. If you’re looking for all of the Times’ coverage of the U.S. women’s national team, it’s compiled in one special section on its website.

Hot type

In this 2017 file photo, Tucker Carlson, host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” poses for photos in a Fox News Channel studio. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

  • On his show Tuesday, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson ripped into Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, saying she is “living proof that the way we practice immigration has become dangerous to this country.” Writing for The Intercept, Peter Maass says Carlson isn’t the only one to blame for this type of talk.
  • Did you know there was something called “mansion porn?” Don’t worry, it’s safe for work and it’s a fun read by The Atlantic’s Andrew Ferguson.
  • The Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown is getting heaps of well-deserved praise for her work on the Jeffrey Epstein case. Everyone is writing about her, including The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison and Paul Fahri.

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
Tom Jones

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