A Florida county board has declined to pay for a digital subscription the The New York Times in its public library, and board members cite Donald Trump’s belief that it’s “fake news” in declining to authorize the payment, Reuters reports.
When the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners convened for a routine meeting back on October 24, a motion was presented to pay for a digital subscription, at a cost of about $2,700 per year, to the New York City “paper of record” for patrons using the library‘s computers. The motion was met with swift and vehement opposition.
Scott Carnahan, the board’s second vice chairman, was clear as to why.
“Fake news!” he said, echoing a phrase Donald Trump has used to describe not only The New York Times, but also CNN and other news outlets that publish stories unfavorable to him.
In fact, Carnahan specifically invoked Donald Trump in rejecting the motion to pay for the subscription.
“I agree with President Trump. I will not be voting for this. I don’t want The New York Times in this county,” he said.
Another Commissioner, Jimmie Smith, asked aloud “why the heck would we spend money on something like that?”
First Vice Chairman Brian Coleman, who introduced the motion, later withdrew it.
However, speaking to the local media, Carnahan admitted that he might have been too hasty in shutting the subscription down.
“Do I think I made a mistake? Yes. Our decision should have been impartial,” he told The Citrus County Chronicle.
Meanwhile, the estimated 70,000 patrons of the Citrus County Library system have had mixed feelings about the matter, with “most, but not all” patrons opposed to the decision.
That’s not to say that Citrus County Library patrons are completely out of luck when it comes to accessing Times content. Citrus County Chronicle writer Mike Wright found something of a workaround. In essence, users of the library’s website can access a database, maintained by the Florida Department of State and issued to all public libraries in the Sunshine State. Using the search terms that the patrons want, patrons can get raw copy of Times stories — that is, without images, graphics or embedded links – containing the keywords that they searched for. The process is rather tedious, but the long and the short of it is that Times content is available, however indirectly, to library patrons in the county, Carnahan’s claim that he doesn’t want it in the county notwithstanding.
“Obviously, there’s a ton of difference between getting The New York Times as a digital subscriber and picking through scraps provided by a search engine. Whether that’s worth about $2,700 a year to give digital access to the Times for 70,000 library card holders is up the public to decide,” Wright wrote.
The County Board will reconsider the issue when it meets on November 19.