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A publicity stunt and nothing more

A Republican candidate for Mississippi governor staked out a position that will likely rate highly with some conservatives, but will do little to endear him to anyone else.

Larrison Campbell with the online publication Mississippi Today says she requested to “shadow” Robert Foster to report about his campaign before the Aug. 6 primary, and his campaign director, Colton Robison, told her Foster would not ride in a vehicle alone with her because people could insinuate Foster and Campbell are having an affair, The Associated Press reported.

Foster told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he won’t be alone with any woman other than his wife, even while working or campaigning. He said being alone with a man is no problem.

Campbell wrote that Mississippi Today rejected Foster’s condition that she bring a male colleague as “sexist.”

This is the kind of story that gets journalists all worked up and the condemnation flowed freely on social media Wednesday. In response, Foster said: “Once again, the liberal left is attacking someone for their integrity, professionalism, and Christian beliefs. They aren’t just attacking me. They are attacking the countless Mississippians who also share these values.”

Here’s the thing: it is unlikely Foster was going to be alone with reporter Campbell. His campaign director, among others, would be with him while he was traveling to campaign stops. So there was no danger of the two being alone in a vehicle.

This stinks of a publicity stunt aimed at getting the so-called “liberal media” to attack him in an effort to show his conservative bona fides. What better way to endear yourself to conservative Mississippians than to show you are worthy of being attacked by the left?

Foster may be successful in getting the clickbait attention he desired but he has done a disservice to voters who care about issues and would have benefited from more in-depth reporting on his candidacy. There aren’t many news outlets in Mississippi willing to send a reporter to shadow a long-shot candidate for governor. By alienating Mississippi Today, Foster may have lost the only news outlet interested in the substance of his campaign.