Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s administration will not comment on stories published by three Maine newspapers he claims oppose his administration. This is news about not making news.
The three outcast publications are the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel. All three are owned by parent company Maine Today Media.
The policy change follows a three-day series looking into the activities of LePage’s top environmental regulator Patricia Aho. The stories accuse the former lobbyist of fighting laws and programs that were opposed by her former clients in the chemical, drug, oil, and real estate development industries.
LeDictator revealed his new approach to a Portland Press Herald reporter via spokeswomen Adrienne Bennett. She informed the reporter that Maine Media Today had “made it clear that it opposed this administration.”
”Responses from the administration could be gleaned from reports by The Associated Press or through document requests using the Freedom of Access Act.”
Another Press Herald reporter asked Bennett on Tuesday to comment on a story about Medicaid expansion. Bennett told the reporter she would not speak to the newspaper about the issue.
“Not to the Portland Press Herald,” she said.”
Cliff Schechtman, executive editor of the Press Herald/Telegram, said that this policy from the Tea Party swoon-maker will not stop the newspaper from scrutinizing state agencies.
“Our mission is to shine the light on how government impacts the lives of Mainers,” Schechtman said. “No threats of gag orders from the LePage administration will stop us from doing probing journalism on behalf of citizens.”
The policy appears to only apply to LePage and his close circle. Other agencies will continue to participate in actual democracy:
Steve McCausland, communications officer for the Department of Public Safety, said he was not aware of any such directive. He said his department will continue to communicate with the Press Herald and its sister publications.
LePage has a history of adversarial media relations. While running for Governor in 2010 he threatened to punch a reporter on-air.
He also infamously walked out on a press conference when he was asked about paying property taxes to the state of Maine.
Nor have his outbursts been limited to people ‘his own size.’
He blasted the press during his inauguration speech in 2011. In 2012, during a presentation at Waterville Junior High School, LePage told 150 eighth-graders that reading newspapers in Maine is “like paying somebody to tell you lies.”
In February, during a reading with schoolchildren at St. John Catholic School in Winslow, LePage said: “My greatest fear in the state of Maine: newspapers. I’m not a fan of newspapers.”
I guess I know what I’m going to be for Halloween…