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Ohio’s increasingly unpopular governor admits he doesn’t read newspapers, hates bad news

In a speech delivered Monday at the Columbus College of Art & Design, Ohio Gov. John Kasich reaffirmed his disdain for the press. “You should know, I don’t read newspapers in the state of Ohio,” he said. “Very rarely do I read a newspaper.”

Kasich elaborated, suggesting his displeasure with the news stems partly from its paucity of emotional edification. “Reading newspapers does not give you an uplifting experience — because it never really makes it clear that you won the Irish Sweepstakes,” he continued, referencing the now-defunct hospital benefit lottery that some now suggest was a scam.

“I have found that my life’s a lot better if I don’t get aggravated by what I read in the newspaper,” Kasich said, noting that others occasionally send him important articles and “things I need to know about.”

Kasich’s speech addressed so-called “look-backs,” the process by which the government tracks down Social Security and welfare overpayments (what he called the “ultimate government screw-up”). But his adverse attitude toward newspapers, which often contain public-opinion polls and other useful information, could explain his seemingly near-total inability to champion legislation and other measures that people in Ohio actually like. Kasich is currently competing with Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie for the un-coveted “least popular governor” prize. As many as three of Kasich’s signature agenda items – the state’s census-mandated congressional reapportionment; an elections-reform bill now branded the “voter suppression law”; and his towering failure of a union-reform law, the infamous Senate Bill 5 –will all end up before voters for them to summarily dismiss.

This is not the first time the freshman governor has expressed a disdain for the press and even the very idea of open government, which he seems to find inconvenient at best.

In a somewhat-incoherent diatribe last December, Kasich blamed reporters and “transparency” for the government’s inability to hire “quality” workers:

“I find myself tripping over the anthills on the way to the pyramids. We have so many stupid rules and regulations that prevent us from getting the best people to come in here. You just can’t believe it. And I blame it on all of you [reporters at the press conference] — all this transparency, and NATO conflicts, and all this other stuff. … Our problems in the government are bigger [than those of the private sector], and the quality of people who want to come in is less. Today if you get sick, under the governmental rules and all the political correctness and all the open – sunshine –and all this other stuff, you get a worse doctor.”

Reading between the lines, Kasich wants to run the government like a business. But the government isn’t a business, and anyway, Kasich is not a businessman. A career politician, Kasich worked for a few years at Lehman Brothers as a managing director of its investment-banking arm before it declared bankruptcy during the height of the economic collapse. His anti-union attitude and neutering of the state’s Department of Development in favor of the operationally opaque nonprofit Jobs Ohio demonstrate further his desire to run the state like a business. In his draconian biennial budget, the governor slashed funds for struggling local governments, schools, and even nursing homes, as though he were middle management trying to skimp on office coffee creamers.

Maybe the governor would find newspapers more edifying were he occasionally to humor those voters that do read them.

Watch Kasich’s anti-newspaper rant:

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