Florida Lawmakers Deny Library Subscription To New York Times, Calls It 'Fake News'

by Cassandra Stone
Robert Nickelsberg/Getty

Florida county commissioners said they ‘agree with Trump’ when issuing the denial

Librarians in Citrus County, Florida, were in for a rude awakening when they attended a recent commissioner’s meeting. Their request was simple: an annual digital subscription to The New York Times — extremely run-of-the-mill for any library, whose existence is to provide knowledge to any patron free of cost. Their request was rudely denied, however, by a bunch of Trump-loving politicians.

During a meeting two weeks ago, all five members of the commission agreed to reject the funding request. On the same day the Trump administration announced that it was canceling federal agencies’ subscriptions to the Times and the Washington Post.

“Do we really need to subscribe to the New York Times?” asked Commissioner Ron Kitchen Jr.

“I actually was going to say that,” said another commissioner, Scott Carnahan, who 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 ’em, it’s fake news and I’m voting no. They can take that money and do something else with it … I support Donald Trump.”


To add insult to injury, Carnahan said that the library could take the thousands of dollars that an institutional subscription to the Times would cost and ″do something else with it.”

Like what? Provide a safe, free outlet where members of the community can learn? Because, uh, that’s kind of the point of libraries. Newspaper subscriptions should be a nonpartisan, non-issue.

Another commissioner, Jimmie T. Smith, returned to his seat and learned what he had missed, also didn’t hesitate with denying the library funding. “Why the heck would we spend money on something like that?” he asked.

According to the Washington Post, the Citrus County library system spends about $3,000 annually on a print subscription to the Times. Two of the county’s four branch libraries only get the paper on Sunday, however, and library officials had hoped to broaden its reach.

Sandy Price, chair of the library advisory board, tells the Orlando Sentinel that offering digital subscriptions would allow county residents to read the paper for free in their homes.

“Someone’s personal political view does not have a place in deciding what library resources are available for the entire county,” Price says. “Libraries have to ensure all points of view are represented.”

The Citrus County Chronicle reported Friday that they had been flooded with calls and emails from readers. Some commissioners began to backtrack, but only slightly. Carnahan told the Chronicle last week that while he still didn’t think the county should pay for the Times, that had nothing to do with his personal views and was only a question of saving taxpayers’ money.

Mmm-hmm. Regardless, the paper reports that the commissioners will be “revisiting” the matter in the near future. Here’s hoping they have a come-to-Jesus moment about censorship.