A library system was denied its request for a digital subscription to the New York Times after Florida officials called the newspaper “fake news.”
“Fake news, I agree with President Trump,” Citrus County Commissioner Scott Carnahan said during an October 24 meeting to decide if the county should spend about $2,700 each year to give their 70,000 library patrons access to the digital version.
“I don’t want the New York Times in this county. I don’t agree with it, I don’t like ’em, it’s fake news and I’m voting no. They can take that money and do something else with it … I support Donald Trump,” he concluded.
Carnahan then apologized to the library director, Eric Head, who originally suggested the county buy a group subscription, but stated that residents who wanted to read the newspaper could pay for it themselves.
“Sorry Eric, I know you have 140 readers, but those guys can subscribe it and have it come to their home. I support Donald Trump,” he concluded.
Several of the other commissioners echoed Carnahan’s statement and questioned why the purchase was necessary when they did not know how many people read the Times.
“How many people are actually reading that for the twenty-seven-hundred dollars a year? That’s my problem with it,” one commissioner said.
“Why the heck would we spend money on something like that?” another commented.
Even though the print edition is available at all four of the regional libraries, which already costs the county $3,000 annually, Sandy Price, who is chairwoman for the library system’s advisory board, said she did not agree with recent the decision.
“Someone’s personal political view does not have a place in deciding what library resources are available for the entire county,” she told the Citrus County Chronicle, adding, “Libraries have to ensure all points of view are represented.”
However, commissioner Brian Coleman said that he regrets how the matter was addressed.
“Do I think I made a mistake? Yes,” he stated. “Our decision should have been impartial, instead of having it become a personal thing.”
On Monday, Carnahan said his vote was not motivated by his opinion of the newspaper, but the cost to residents.
“I’m open to a free press. Not at the taxpayers’ expense,” he commented.
The proposal was withdrawn during the initial meeting, but the library’s district advisory board is scheduled to hold a special meeting to discuss the issue again on November 19, according to WTSP.
Additionally, Head noted that the print edition would not be replaced by the digital subscription unless it proved popular with the county’s residents.