ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
COLUMBUS -- Plenty of newspapers circulate through Gov. John Kasich's office even if he personally makes a point of not reading them.
The former Fox News political show host has long expressed some pride in not regularly reading Ohio's daily newspapers while pointing to things he has read in national publications such as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.
"Very rarely do I read [an Ohio] newspaper because, just like I think presidents have done in the past, reading newspapers does not give you an uplifting experience because it never really makes it clear that you won the Irish sweepstakes," he said during a news conference on Monday.
"From time to time, people will send me articles about things I need to know about, but I have found that my life is a lot better if I don't get aggravated by what I read in the newspaper," he said.
He made the comment as a preface to explaining how he spotted a newspaper headline by chance that brought to his attention the fact that his administration was aggressively seeking to recover overpayments to welfare recipients from more than 10 years ago and, in some cases, were caused by state error.
He immediately softened the state's policy, which originated in late 2010 under his predecessor, Ted Strickland, and lamented that he didn't know about it sooner.
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern saw a fund-raising opportunity in the comment, asking supporters to send money to the party while they also suggest which newspapers it should buy for the governor.
"I guess reading about his failed leadership day after day is too depressing for him," Mr. Redfern wrote in a fund-raising email. "But the rest of Ohioans live with those news stories every day. Newspapers across Ohio, from the The Toledo Blade to the Marietta Times, detail the daily struggles faced by our families, and it's a shame John Kasich is too busy searching for an 'uplifting experience' to care about those struggles."
State lawmakers and others in the Statehouse receive daily clippings of articles from Ohio's major daily newspapers, as well as some national publications such as USA Today. The Blade and several other dailies deliver several free papers to the Statehouse each weekday.
MANSFIELD (OHIO) NEWS JOURNAL Enlarge
Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor's office receives multiple editions of Ohio daily newspapers and some national publications, but he was unable to immediately put a dollar figure on what those papers cost.
"The governor doesn't miss a chance to punk the press corps, and their defensive reaction to his comments confirms the widely held belief that they're bereft of a sense of humor," Mr. Nichols said. "The governor is a gadget junkie and stays well on top of current events by constantly reading news accounts on his iPad from a very wide variety of sources."
He dismissed the Democrats' contention that the governor was ill informed, pointing instead to the Democratic Party's own cancellation of its subscription to the Columbus Dispatch as part of a dispute with the paper over its coverage. Mr. Nichols questioned whether that meant Mr. Redfern was also out of touch.
When Dennis Hetzel, executive director of the Ohio Newspaper Association, heard the governor's comment, his first thought was "That's Governor Kasich being Governor Kasich."
"He likes to get a rise out of people," he said. "You have to see the irony that he got the idea for the subject of his press conference from a headline in The Dispatch. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, but I wish he would be more supportive of important Ohio businesses."
Even if Mr. Kasich isn't reading Ohio's dailies, Mr. Hetzel said he's confident that the people around him are.
Occasionally, the governor cites specific stories from Ohio newspapers when seeking to make a point.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.