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US Florida county board rejects library's New York Times subscription as 'fake news'

20:45  05 november  2019
20:45  05 november  2019 Source:   reuters.com

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(Reuters) - 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 the newspaper's reporting was "fake news" as justifying the decision.

a person standing in front of a store: FILE PHOTO - NYPD Police officers stand outside the New York Times Building after reports of a suspicious package was found, in New York City© Reuters/JEENAH MOON FILE PHOTO - NYPD Police officers stand outside the New York Times Building after reports of a suspicious package was found, in New York City

A motion to add a digital subscription to the paper for library users met quick opposition at the Board of County Commissioners in Citrus County, about 75 miles (121 km) 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 a slogan Trump has repeatedly used to criticize journalists https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-media-trump/newspaper-editorials-across-u-s-rebuke-trump-for-attacks-on-media-idUSKBN1L1088 or news reports that contradict his opinion or policy positions.

"I agree with President Trump," Carnahan said. "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 said it was planning to order that federal agencies end their subscriptions to The New York Times and the Washington Post, two news outlets often criticized by Trump.

Carnahan was joined by Commissioners Ronald Kitchen, who balked at the annual cost of about $2,700, and Jimmie Smith, who wondered, "why the heck would we spend money on something like that?"

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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 paper. “Our decision should have been impartial."

The board's next regular meeting, set for Tuesday, did not include digital funding for the New York Times on its agenda.

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.

The county already pays about $3,000 a year to supply its four regional libraries with the print edition of The Times, Library Services Director Eric Head told the newspaper.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Bernadette Baum)

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