LePage says he won't talk to Portland, Augusta, Waterville newspapers

AUGUSTA — Maine's blunt-spoken governor doesn't mince words when opponents dare to cross him but he's saved some of his harshest criticism for newspapers, once telling schoolchildren he isn't a fan of papers and another time saying that reading one is "like paying somebody to tell you lies."

Now it's gone to an extreme, with Republican Gov. Paul LePage and his administration cutting off comments to three newspapers including one serving the state's biggest city.

Adrienne Bennett, the governor's communications director, said Wednesday that it was her decision to give a blanket "no comment" to the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal in the state capital of Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville, where LePage once served as mayor. All three daily newspapers are owned by MaineToday Media Inc.

"All we're asking for is objectivity and a balanced approach to reporting. We're not finding that MaineToday Media has done that with the LePage administration," she said.

The announcement from the governor's office was made after a Press Herald investigation of Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Patricia Aho, a former lobbyist portrayed as working behind the scenes to roll back environmental laws and regulations opposed by her former clients in the chemical, drug, oil, and real estate industries.

The three-part series was entitled "A lobbyist in the henhouse."

Cliff Schechtman, executive editor of the Portland Press Herald, said the administration simply doesn't like tough reporting and said the newspaper won't be doing anything differently.

"This is about probing journalism that examines how powerful forces affect the lives of ordinary citizens. That makes the powerful uncomfortable. That's what this is about," he said.

Bennett said the decision was not based on any single news report and that she didn't think the new policy would prevent the newspaper's reporters from doing their work, or lead to people being uninformed.

People have other options including The Associated Press, radio, television, weekly newspapers and bloggers, and the MaineToday newspapers are welcome to use the state's Freedom of Access Act for information, she said.

"We're fortunate enough to have a variety of media outlets and news sources to choose from. There's certainly not going to be a lack of transparency from this administration," she said.

The newspaper gag order wouldn't apply during a natural disaster or other emergencies, she added.

LePage isn't known for backing away from a confrontation, gaining attention in the past for telling the NAACP to "kiss my butt" and comparing the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo.

This legislative session began with a standoff in which the governor refused for weeks to meet fact-to-face with Democratic leaders. Last month, he even abandoned his State House office and decamped to work from the governor's mansion after being told to remove at TV he'd installed outside his office.

The media hasn't been immune from his ire, either. Even before he was elected, he used colorful language when he scolded the media after a newspaper report indicated his wife claimed residency in both Maine and Florida, allowing tax deductions in both states. He called it a clerical error.

But while politicians spar with the media from time to time, it's unusual for them to actually refuse to work with news organizations. For example, former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura attacked what he viewed as irresponsible reporters, but he never made it a policy not to talk to entire news organizations.

Kelly McBride, a media ethics specialist from the Poynter Institute, a Florida-based journalism think tank, said such storms between politicians and the media tend to blow over. But in the meantime, she said, the governor's posture will serve only to make him appear petty and to increase readership of the newspaper series.

"Publishers and editors face belligerent sources all the time. As long as they continue to be loyal to their audience, rather than their sources," she said, "it usually works out for the journalist."

What do you think of this story?

Login to post comments

In order to make comments, you must create a subscription.

In order to comment on SunJournal.com, you must hold a valid subscription allowing access to this website. You must use your real name and include the town in which you live in your SunJournal.com profile. To subscribe or link your existing subscription click here.

Login or create an account here.

Our policy prohibits comments that are:

  • Defamatory, abusive, obscene, racist, or otherwise hateful
  • Excessively foul and/or vulgar
  • Inappropriately sexual
  • Baseless personal attacks or otherwise threatening
  • Contain illegal material, or material that infringes on the rights of others
  • Commercial postings attempting to sell a product/item
If you violate this policy, your comment will be removed and your account may be banned from posting comments.



What a baby

My 2 year old granddaughter is more mature than this buffoon. He passed the buck to the cities and towns to raise our taxes...and people just don't see this? Maybe if they could look at it without lumping everything into Dems/Reps, they could see past their noses..this guy hasn't done much in the way of helping Maine...God help us if he gets re-elected!!!!!!

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage says he won't talk to Portland, Augusta, Waterville press

Mainers , 21:21 hst ? 13.06.19 Weds
The real problem is simply that opinions are like a**holes
Everyone's got one
And his stinks
Diagnosis : paranoid delusional a lá tricky Dick Nixon
Take away his TV someone
And his guns
Before he hurts someone
Please /s, Steve :D


Free speech

After all the talk about the right of free speech and the right to express yourself in this country we get this. Apparently the only free speech allowed is the governor's in his opinion.

Its hard to trust any of the

Its hard to trust any of the liberal biased news media in Maine or nationwide today. Ever since the day Gov Lepage took office they've been sticking to him any chance they get.

Jason Theriault's picture

Horse hockey!

He's wrong, he looks bad, and he has no response. So he is being the coward he is and going home.

If the "Liberal" media is so biased, why doesn't he correct them?

Steve  Dosh's picture

J T ? i am sorry • i may

J T ? i am sorry • i may have used your name in vain somewhere else in here . i mistakenly grouped you with Mssrs. Mark Eliot , Mark Gavel , Amadeo , and other insensitive knee - jerk reactionary right wing gun nut types
Do accept my sincerest apologies /s , Steve
" Duct tape holds the universe together . It has a dark side. .a light side . . .. "

I'd say hes doing pretty good

I'd say hes doing pretty good from blocking a bunch of stupid new laws . How many vetos have the Dems over ruled?
The Dems are the ones doing all of the whining. He's playing by the rules ,they have nothing to whine about.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Dennis ? Nobody is whining .

Dennis ? Nobody is whining . It will all come back to haunt even fairly honest ME Republicans and RHINOs in the next election season . What goes around comes around and we know how to play hard ball also . The stuƒƒ usually slides dowh hill from the top . btw - we are not dumb and insensitive bullies . You can run but you can not hide forever , this said with reference to current and former republican female senators from ME . What does Susan say about all this , Mainers ? Where is she n e way ? You stand where you sit •
A wise politician once quipped , " You can fool all of the people some of the time , some of the people all the time but not all the people all of the time ."
Logic is logical
i realize i am nobody to you , but nobody is perfect , there fore i am perfect , right ?
Refute that . .. Hahah j/k j\k . ..
/s, Steve :D

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Dennis, just a quick question................

I'm just a little curious, which makes you happiest, the fact that Paul LePage is vetoing just about everything thrown his way? Or, are you just happy that Paul LePage is getting his way.
I just find it difficult to judge a Governors performance on how many veto's they have. This isn't a game, Republican or Democrat, the stakes are still the same. The man is destroying the Democratic process in this State. Whats at stake here isn't popularity, it's all our futures. I for one don't take that lightly, I'm sick of his childish games and his immature behavior. If we need new laws, or we need new direction so be it. Democrat or Republican, either one is totally capable of achieving that goal. If I want childish behavior, I'll go to "Chucky-Cheese", We all need mature responsibility in Augusta, not a temper tantrum throwing, middle aged child. I still feel he is in need of a psychiatric evaluation. I've never had the need to say that about a sitting Governor, is that what you consider "doing pretty good"????????????????

Hes not destroying the

Hes not destroying the Democratic process, hes participating in the democratic process by trying to stop the democrats from sticking us with higher taxes. Maybe you like higher taxes, I don't. Mainers are paying too much in taxes & fees now. By the way fees are taxes too, maybe they aren't according to Democrats, but they are to the ones who are paying them.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Why not ask the tax payers..........

We'll see how all those nice folks opening their new property tax bill after LePage decided to take away revenue sharing. He did that as a way to raise property taxes, while trying to convince those less intelligent than him, he's not responsible. There's only two problems with his plan. One, everyone knows the tax increase was his fault, and two, he couldn't find anyone less intelligent......

Lepage isnt responsible for

Lepage isnt responsible for high local property taxes. He has no control on how much towns spend.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Oh yes he does...................

Property taxes are going to go up. Many cities and towns are already bracing themselves for it. Some towns are holding off on "Town Meeting", just to figure out how disastrous effects the withholding of our tax dollars will be. Like everything else, LePage and his cronies are trying to minimize the negative affects this will have on them. If you think about it, it's like our own little Statewide Sequester. If you'll recall that wasn't supposed to have any affect either. LePage is a Republican, he's doing Republican things, his only intent is to screw anyone who's not very well off.
I personally don't mind paying taxes, as long as I'm getting a return, having to pay twice, in the form of new property taxes doesn't make me happy. That my friend is what LePage is doing. Everybody knows that..............

AL PELLETIER's picture

Once again.

Dennis, I've asked you once before if you own and pay property taxes in Maine. CRICKETS.
Lepage is trying to pass the buck to municipal governments to raise property taxes so he looks like a hero.

I said yes I do own property

I said yes I do own property in Maine. Lepage isnt going to raise my property taxes. Thats Democratic spin. He does not have the power to raise my taxes.

Dennis, did you not read

Dennis, did you not read Lepage's proposed budget? His plan is to stop all revenue sharing across the state. If this passes then the money that these cities and towns rely on every year will no longer be there and in turn these cities and towns will have to raise taxes to make up the money they lose from the revenue sharing. So although he may not directly raise those taxes himself, his actions in getting rid of the revenue sharing will inevitably lead to tax increases. He is leaving these cities and towns with no other option but to raise taxes and he is going about it in a roundabout way so as to make it appear as though it is not his fault.

Lepage is trying to trim the

Lepage is trying to trim the fat in Augusta, towns and cities should do the same.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Dennis ? Which makes you

Dennis ? Which makes you happiest, a ) , the fact that Paul LePage is vetoing just about everything thrown his way?
Or, b ) are you just happy that Paul LePage is getting his way ?
A [ ]
B [ ]
C [ ] other
D [ ] He is a dumb bully •
F [ ] none of the above ? ?
Stop dissembling
Choose to choose
Decide to decide & answer the question , please
/s , your ƒriends , Steve et . al .

I'm happy he's sticking to

I'm happy he's sticking to his guns. Its refreshing to see a politician hold firm to his principals and convictions. Something most liberals wouldn't have a clue about.. The people in Maine cant afford higher taxes of any kind. Hes doing his job, why cant leaders in towns and cities across Maine do their job, by being more frugal on how tax dollars are spent.

The proposed tax increases

The proposed tax increases are for dining out as well as hotel/motel lodging. As I have stated previously, if one can afford to dine out and/or stay in hotels then one should be able to afford a 1/2% or 1% increase to enjoy these luxuries...

It's called "plausible

It's called "plausible deniability."

It's called "plausible

It's called "plausible deniability."

Steve  Dosh's picture

Wayne ? 22:00 hst Weds.

Wayne ? 22:00 hst Weds. night ?
That's what tricky Dick Nixon's AG may have called it ( the one he didn't fire )
erf : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Massacre
Former V P Dead - Eye Dick Cheney , Ron Reagan Sr. , Don Regan , former SECSTATE Condi Rice , Bush jr. , and former AG " Mr. Waterboard "Ashcroft may have called it " selective memory "
We simply call it lying , fabrication , and deceit •
hth ? /s, Steve :D

 's picture

Boo Hoo

Can someone please get Paulie his pillowcase and put him in his crib. Please

Jason Theriault's picture

No, more like this...

 's picture

I bow to you're infinitly more elegant characterization


FRANK EARLEY's picture

The truth does hurt..........

I read all those articles mentioned, I have to say, they were accurate and very typical of actions of the LePage administration. My first thought was, they nailed it. I also wondered how the Governor was going to react, I knew he would react. Well he hasn't let me and many others down. He reacted exactly as you would expect any five year old to react, "He's never talking to us anymore ever again", as he stamps his feet, and storms out of the room. I threw in the last part myself, based on my experiences with five year olds.
I have come to a conclusion, he will never grow up. He will continue to inflict as much harm to this State as he can get away with, on his way out of the Blaine House. He can't win a second term, so he'll do the next best thing. destroy what he can in this one. Yup, the truth really does hurt, and some people just can't handle the truth........

Sadly, I think Michaud and

Sadly, I think Michaud and Culter will dilute each others' votes enough that Paulie will get his second term. God helps us all if I'm right. Our best hope is that one of them will drop out in order to serve the greater good of getting the 2nd grade bully out of office.

 's picture

8 year olds


 's picture


So, he puts the corporate fox in charge of the henhouse and doesn't think Mainers should know?

AL PELLETIER's picture

What next?

He only gets weirder and weirder. Oh well, he can still make a fool of himself in the Sun Journal.

Jason Theriault's picture

Poor Poor LePage

Everyone is picking on him.It's almost like being a gruff and abrasive governor has drawbacks.


Stay informed — Get the news delivered for free in your inbox.

I'm interested in ...