Watch: Officials Laugh Off a Library’s Request for a New York Times Subscription, Call it “Fake News”

One said, “I agree with President Trump,” then said it wasn’t about politics

The New York Times newspaper
The Citrus County library system already gets a print subscription, but was hoping to offer a digital one too.
Robert Alexander/Getty
By Alex Lauer / November 6, 2019 1:36 pm

On October 24, a nonpartisan county commission in Florida went about its normal business of approving requests and issuing proclamations. One agenda item included declaring October “Friends of the Library Month.” But when it came time to actually help the local library system by approving its request for a digital subscription to The New York Times, the commission didn’t just deny it, the group literally burst into laughter. 

The reason the all-male Citrus County commission in Florida denied the library’s request for a $2,700 subscription for its 70,000 users? In their own words, they believe one of the top three newspapers in the U.S. to be “fake news.” That parroting of President Donald Trump’s unfounded rhetoric was made clear when one commissioner said, over chuckles in the room, “I agree with President Trump.”

You can watch video of the incident below, courtesy of The Washington Post:

As The Washington Post notes, the commissioner who first invoked Trump, Scott Carnahan, also said during the meeting, “I will not be voting for this. I don’t want the New York Times in this county.” But when the Citrus County Chronicle reported on the incident, he responded, “I’m open to a free press. Not at the taxpayers’ expense.” Of course, that’s not what he said at the meeting.

Other commissioners were more apologetic that the group’s soft spot for Trump’s insults influenced the decision. 

“Do I think I made a mistake? Yes,” Commissioner Brian Coleman told the Chronicle. “Our decision should have been impartial, instead of having it become a personal thing.”

The four commissioners who were available for comment told the Chronicle that they do not read the Times, despite professing intimate knowledge of the news source’s veracity. And if the decision is not reversed, they won’t be able to read it in the future — at least, not through their library’s online portal.

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