A Florida county board rejected a library’s request for a digital subscription to the New York Times, with one commissioner citing President Donald Trump’s claim that the newspaper’s reporting was “fake news” to justify the decision.
A motion to add a digital subscription to the Times for library users met quick opposition at the Board of County Commissioners in Citrus County, about 75 miles north of Tampa.
“Do we really need to subscribe to The New York Times?” asked Scott Carnahan, the board’s second vice chairman, who led the opposition to the move at its Oct. 24 meeting, which was recorded.
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“Fake news!” he exclaimed, echoing the slogan Trump has repeatedly used to criticize the press.
“I agree with President Trump,” Carnahan added. “I will not be voting for this. I don’t want The New York Times in this county.”
On the same day the commissioners met, the White House declared that it was planning to order federal agencies to end their subscriptions to The Times and the Washington Post, two news outlets often criticized by Trump.
Carnahan was joined by Commissioners Ronald Kitchen, who balked at the roughly $2,700 a year cost, and Jimmie Smith, who wondered, “why the heck would we spend money on something like that?”
Reading the room, First Vice Chairman Brian Coleman withdrew the motion he made to approve the funding request.
Coleman later told the Citrus County Chronicle newspaper that he was open to reconsidering the matter.
“Do I think I made a mistake? Yes,” Coleman told the newspaper. “Our decision should have been impartial.”
The Chronicle, noting that the decision would affect some 70,000 library card holders, reported that its readers “reacted strongly” to the commissioners’ decision, with “most but not all” critical of it.
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(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler.)