Portland Newspaper OpEd Calls Paul LePage an Alcoholic, Unpublishes, but doesn't apologize - iMediaEthics

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Paul LePage (Credit: MattGagnon/Wikipedia)

The Maine Sunday Telegram, the sister paper to the Portland Press Herald, unpublished an op-ed suggesting the state’s controversial governor, Paul LePage, is an alcoholic. The op-ed was headlined, “Alcohol is clouding LePage’s view.”

The op-ed, which has been unpublished but was sent to iMediaEthics by a reader, claims LePage has “deep-seated and unresolved psychological and emotional issues” and said “the booze has hardened your heart and clouded your view.”

The paper’s executive editor Cliff Schechtman told iMediaEthics that the article was removed after many editorial board members found it unfair and inappropriate. The paper did not apologize though.

“Guest columns are reviewed by the editorial page editor or the assistant editorial page editor,” he told iMediaEthics by e-mail. “In this case, the editorial page editor believed that the op-ed piece was fair but other members of the editorial board, who did not see it until Sunday morning, disagreed. They felt it was inappropriate  to allow the writer to diagnose a medical condition from afar.”

The Sept. 4 statement reads:

“Editor’s Note: An opinion column about Gov. Paul LePage’s recent behavior written by Steve Bentley in the Maine Sunday Telegram that appeared on our website Sunday morning should not have been published. It did not meet our standards.”

According to Schechtman, the column was published online for a few hours on Sunday morning and in print. The newspaper published the editor’s note in print on Monday.

“I’m unaware of either Gov. LePage or any of his people complaining to us about this piece,” Schechtman told iMediaEthics. “The only complaints I received so far were from a few staff members who thought the column was inappropriate.” iMediaEthics has contacted LePage’s office for comment.

Late last month, after a series of controversies, LePage said, “I’m not an alcoholic, and I’m not a drug addict, and I don’t have mental issues,” the Guardian reported. “What I have is a backbone,” he continued.

CORRECTION - September 8, 2016 12:04 PM EST

While the paper did delete the op-ed about Paul LePage, it did not apologize. Thanks to readers on Twitter for flagging this. iMediaEthics contacted the paper’s executive editor to confirm it did not apologize. He told us, “Your story was incorrect in calling it an apology.” We regret the error.

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Portland Newspaper OpEd Calls Paul LePage an Alcoholic, Unpublishes, but doesn’t apologize

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