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Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Funding requests by public libraries for digital subscriptions to the New York Times are not uncommon in the United States. And in Citrus County, Florida, librarians recently requested $2,700 for a group subscription to the Times. But according to the Citrus County Chronicle, commissioners in the county denied the request — with one of them doing so on the grounds that the New York Times is a source of “fake news.”

Commissioner Scott Carnahan, in response to the funding request, said,  “Fake news, I agree with President Trump. I don’t want the New York Times in this county. I don’t agree with it. I don’t like them. It’s fake news, and I’m voting no. They can take that money and do something else with it…. I support Donald Trump.”

The library in Citrus County (where voter registration is about 48 percent Republican) has around 70,000 cardholders, which means that a $2700 subscription would cost about .04 cents per patron.

Commissioner Jeff Kinnard, another Citrus County commissioner, told the Citrus County Chronicle, “I don’t feel like the county is obligated to subscribe to every major newspaper or every point of view. At some point, you draw the line.” And commissioner Jimmie Smith said, “You can go to the library and have internet access to all kinds of media. There’s a plethora of different websites available.”

The commissioners’ decision to deny the funding request is drawing sharp criticism. Margot Susca, a communications professor at American University in Washington, D.C., tweeted that the commissioners had obviously made a “politically motivated decision.” And the Wall Street Journal’s Matt Riva tweeted that “Citrus County, long known for sinkholes, can now also be known for censorship.”

Sandy Price, chair of the Citrus County Special Library District Advisory Board, told the Citrus County Chronicle, “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.”

 

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