The Maine Wire revealed Monday that Gov. Janet Mills tried to lean on the Maine Press Association to establish a credentialing system for Maine media. Although the administration compared the system to Standing Committee of Correspondents, which vets and provides credentials to political reporters in Washington, D.C., Mills’ request was obviously an attempt blacklist The Maine Wire.
The Mills administration received backlash when they attempted to ban The Maine Wire’s Katherine Revello outright from their COVID-19 briefings, so they were trying to get the MPA to give them a pretext for accomplishing their goal: banning critical, adversarial reporting on government officials.
That Mills would attempt such a inartful crack down on a mildly critical journalist is newsworthy. However, dozens of members of Maine’s media knew about Mills’ request and refused to publish news articles on it. (Look for yourself at the august board of the Maine Press Association — they all likely knew what Mills was trying to do.) Facts about Mills’ request have only emerged because, more than one year later, an employee of a Maine media company reached out privately to share MPA’s response to the administration. Notably, the MPA declined the request to create a list of “approved” journalists for the administration, but they only did so because they lack the resources to manage a project like that. A better funded MPA may have acquiesced to the administration’s request to create a special, private club of credentialed journalists who are allowed to cover Gov. Mills — the only qualification for entry being favorable coverage of government schemes.
Now, you might think this whole affray — Mills trying to ban critical reporters, the MPA saying no, several of Maine’s largest media companies keeping the entire thing secret for more than a year — you might think that’s all news worthy. We did. The Maine Policy Institute, a free market think tank that owns The Maine Wire, issued a press release on the subject, the Wire has published our own stories, and we’ve been noisy about the story on social media. But Maine’s vaunted newspapers, the Bangor Daily News, the Press Herald, and the Lewiston Sun Journal, along with all the dinosaur TV news companies, have been utterly silent on Mills’ attack on press freedom.
So as a public service, here’s a list of all the news stories Maine’s heroic newspaper publishers and TV news reporters thought were more newsworthy than the governor attempting to limit the free press in Maine:
1.) Another story about Sen. Susan Collins being a moderate Republican from the Bangor Daily News:
2.) The Press Herald thought this pair of national stories were more interesting than Maine’s governor trying to limit press freedom. I wonder why…?
3.) My personal favorite at MainePublic.org: A news wrap-up for … Connecticut?
4.) A heartwarming story about a man and his stump from Newscenter Maine.
5.) Just amazing front page content here from the Sun Journal. Is this what you have to write in order to get on Mills’ list of approved reporters?
6.) There are what, like 12 people interested in this story from the Sun Journal?
7.) Ole Sherlock Holmes at the Bangor Daily News really plumbing the depth of a mystery here…
8.) I know this is a volunteer contribution, but it still makes the list. Just overwhelming levels of baby boomer faux luddite stupidity that stopped being funny three decades ago. If you don’t want to click through, I’ll save you the time: He wants to sell dog poop. That’s it. That’s the joke. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when some hipster editors at the Press Herald read this and thought, “It’s not very funny, but Adam Lee buys a lot of advertising in Maine…” I typically don’t read the comments, but I’m with Mike99 and CelticFrost on this.