AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Gov. Paul LePage lashed out at the media for reporting he planned to leave the state during a budget impasse, and he suggested he sometimes concocts stories to mislead reporters.
The Republican governor also characterized the state media as "vile," ''inaccurate" and "useless."
"I just love to sit in my office and make up ways so they'll write these stupid stories because they are just so stupid, it's awful," he told WGAN-AM on Thursday.
Maine media, citing lawmakers, reported recently that LePage might leave the state amid a government shutdown. Republicans including Senate President Michael Thibodeau and Sen. Roger Katz said LePage had told them he planned to leave the state.
Responding to a Freedom of Access Act request, the Senate Republican office produced a voicemail Thursday in which the governor is heard telling Katz, "I'm heading out of town for about 10 days and I'd like to speak to you before I leave. So could you give me a call please? Thank you."
A LePage spokesman called the news reports "fake news."
In the radio interview, LePage reiterated his disdain for the media, in particular newspapers, saying "the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be."
His office didn't immediately respond Thursday to further questions about the governor's comments.
Katz said the governor was out of line.
"The governor's suggestion that society would be better off without a free press ought to scare the hell out of anyone even vaguely familiar with history," he said.
LePage's contempt of newspapers is well documented. He previously declared that he doesn't read newspapers and once joked about blowing up a newspaper building. In April, he vetoed a bill requiring legal notices to be published in newspapers, saying the bill props up a "dying, antiquated industry."