- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A Florida library was denied their request to have a digital subscription to The New York Times after its governing board said the paper was “fake news.”

When the librarians of Citrus County, Florida, brought their proposal to the Citrus County commissioners on Oct. 24 — $2,700 annually for a digital subscription to The Times — all five members laughed out loud and eventually denied the request.

“Do we really need to subscribe to The New York Times?” asked Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr.

Another commissioner, Scott Carnahan, responded: “I actually was going to say that. I don’t agree with it, I don’t like ‘em, it’s fake news, and I’m voting no.”

“I agree with President Trump,” he continued. “I will not be voting for this. I don’t want The New York Times in this county.”

Mr. Carnahan added that money wasn’t the issue, but suggested they could take the cost of the subscription and use it on something else.

After four members voted down the proposal, a fifth commissioner and former Republican state Rep. Jimmie T. Smith voted it down as well after returning from the bathroom, stating, “Why the heck would we spend money on something like that?”

While the commission is designated as nonpartisan, the North Tampa area is typically a conservative stronhghold.

In followup interviews, the Citrus County Chronicle found that many of the commissioners had a political element to their denial of the paper and considered it would lead to more requests for “radical publication” subscriptions.

“I don’t feel like the county is obligated to subscribe to every major newspaper or every point of view,” Commission Chairman Jeff Kinnard said. “At some point you draw the line.”

Commissioner Brian Coleman: “I support President Trump. I would say they put stuff in there that’s not necessarily verified.”

The paper found that all four commissioners who agreed to be interviewed said they didn’t read The Times.

The decision was met with disappointment from the Citrus County Library system, which already spends $3,000 annually on a paper subscription for its four branches.

Sandy Price, the chairwoman for the library’s advisory board, said: “Someone’s personal political view does not have a place in deciding what library resources are available for the entire county. Libraries have to ensure all points of view are represented.

Since the Chronicle’s story went viral, some of the commissioners began to emerge with partially different stances.

Mr. Carnahan said that while he still doesn’t believe money should be spent on the subscription, he denied partisanship played into his decision. Mr. Coleman took a harder stance, saying the matter should be revisited.

“Our decision should have been impartial, instead of having it become a personal thing,” he said.

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