Pro-Trump officials in Florida block New York Times from local library

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The county commission in Citrus County, Florida, rejected a plan to give free online access to the New York Times available to their constituents.

County commissioners in GOP-leaning Citrus County, Florida, rejected a request from their library director to spend a few thousand dollars to provide free digital access to the New York Times online.

The commissioners explained their decision by saying the publication had printed news that made Donald Trump look bad.

Trump has spent much of his time in the White House smearing the publication as "fixed," "sick journalism," "fake news," "corrupt," and "failing." He has denied its accurate reporting and called the outlet an "enemy of the people."

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After Citrus County's library director requested the digital subscription for all 70,000 library card holders — at a cost of just $2,657 for the first two years and $2,714 for the third — the board refused.

"I don’t want the New York Times in this county," Commissioner Scott Carnahan said, echoing Trump's criticisms and noting his support for Trump. "I don't agree with it. I don’t like them. It’s fake news and I'm voting no."

Commissioner Brian Coleman was equally blunt. "I support President Trump. I would say they put stuff in there that’s not necessarily verified," he explained.

Commission Chairman Jeff Kinnard said he did not believe the library needed to provide a diversity of news sources. "I don’t feel like the county is obligated to subscribe to every major newspaper or every point of view," Kinnard told a local paper after the Oct. 24 commission meeting. "At some point you draw the line."

The five commissioners unanimously opposed the group subscription proposal.

Their constituents were not pleased.

The Citrus County Chronicle reported on Friday that the news outlet's "website and Facebook page were inundated with comments from readers, and the newsroom received calls and emails throughout the day Monday. Most, but not all, were critical of the county’s decision."

The chair of the library advisory board, Sandy Price, also blasted the decision saying, "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."

Coleman later told the paper he believed he had made a mistake in rejecting the subscription, saying the "decision should have been impartial, instead of having it become a personal thing." But his colleagues have stood by their decision.

A Republican state representative from a neighboring area applauded the commission's move on Monday, urging his own community to follow suit.

On Tuesday, a Boston resident launched a GoFundMe drive to raise the $2,700 to pay for the first year of Citrus County's subscription. It had already raised $575 in the first two hours.

Last month, Trump made a big deal of his decision to cancel his own subscription to the Times and demanded that all federal agencies do the same. But even he reportedly kept the paper's app on his phone and his administration confirmed that it continues to have online access.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.