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CNN’s Smerconish Presses Candidate Who Denied Access to Female Reporter: What If Reporter Was a Gay Man?

CNN’s Michael Smerconish confronted Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Robert Foster this morning over him denying access to a female reporter without a male colleague present.

Foster said this morning if reporter Larrison Campbell wanted to do the long ride-along interview, “perception’s reality in this world and I just simply stated it would be better if you brought along a male counterpart with you if we’re going to be riding in the vehicle for the interview.”

Smerconish pressed him on the argument that what he’s doing is basically “aiding the limitation” and “preventing the advancement of women professionally.”

“I’m mindful of the fact that I have both a wife and a mother who are successful realtors,” he said. “And if this were the practice in my area, they’d be very limited in their ability to sell houses. You could make that same argument about a number of other professions for women.”

Foster responded by saying this is how he chooses to live his life, saying, “The thing that everybody either needs to think about too is that when I’m alone in a vehicle with a woman that is not my wife, people may perceive there to be something going on whether there is or not.”

He also said that in the #MeToo era, “people could get back at me 5, 10, 15 years later and accuse me of assaulting them and I have no witness there to protect me from that accusation, so I have to protect myself in both my personal and professional career.”

Smerconish noted how Campbell is openly gay. Foster responded by asking, “How are people to know that? Can you tell by looking at someone that they are gay?”

“When I’m riding around in a vehicle with a woman, they’re not gonna have any clue that she’s gay. And how does that have anything to do with the fact that can a guy woman not accuse a man of sexually assaulting her? That doesn’t make sense either,” Foster continued.

At one point Smerconish asked if he would be okay with an openly gay male reporter in the ride-along.

“I’m not gay, I’m married to a woman,” Foster said. “Generally people aren’t going to be able to tell if somebody is gay by looking at them. So again, it’s perception.”

Smerconish asked again and Foster said he would let a gay male reporter in the truck.

“Wait a minute. Come on. That’s an inconsistency,’ Smerconish said. “If you’re worried about perception with a female but I’m a guy who’s gay, why are you not similarly worried? Why are you letting me in the truck if you’re not letting her in the truck is my question.”

“Because I’m not gay and people aren’t going to perceive me to be. I’m married to a woman,” Foster said.

You can watch the whole thing above, via CNN.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac