Florida County Commissioners Wouldn't 'Waste Money' on a New York Times Library Subscription

Big Time Small-Time DicksWelcome to Big Time Small-Time Dicks, a regular column on The Slot that explores local politicians, small-town scandals, and everything else making life miserable on a local level.

Public libraries are one of the last purely good places in our country’s towns and cities, full of wonderful things that are free to read, like newspapers. But a group of county commissioners in Florida have decided to take a stand against providing the New York Times to library cardholders, because the Times, as one of them put it, is fake news.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported, the Citrus County library requested that the five county commissioners approve spending about $2,700 to purchase digital subscriptions to the New York Times, to supplement the print edition the library already offers residents. And this request, which would have made the digital version of the newspaper free to the library’s cardholders, was met with hostility. “Why the heck would we spend money on something like that?” commissioner Jimmie T. Smith said during the meeting.

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More, from the Citrus County Chronicle:

Commissioners Brian Coleman and Chairman Jeff Kinnard said approving a subscription to the New York Times could open the door to requests for subscriptions to radical publications.

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

County commissioner Scott Carnahan then shared that he, as a fan of Donald Trump, thinks the New York Times is “fake news.”

“Fake news, I agree with President Trump,” Carnahan said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “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.” He then added again, in case people were unclear about his political views, “I support Donald Trump.” Carnahan, who gets paid a tidy $5,000 each month to serve as a county commissioner, was recently accused of not living in the district he represents, a charge that he apparently rectified by announcing he and his family had officially moved into a farm laborer’s cabin. Sounds like a totally above-board, stand-up guy!

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The Citrus County commissioners meeting coincidentally took place on the same day that the Trump administration proclaimed federal agencies would no longer subscribe to both the Times and the Washington Post, though as the Post noted, “the Citrus County meeting began several hours before the Wall Street Journal broke the news of the new edict.”

Residents of Citrus County, however, are not pleased, and the Citrus County Special Library District Advisory Board plans to hold a special meeting in November to discuss the county commissioners’ rejection of the request. “Someone’s personal political view does not have a place in deciding what library resources are available for the entire county,” the library advisory board chair Sandy Price told the Citrus County Chronicle. “Libraries have to ensure all points of view are represented.”

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