Maryland Governor Defends Wife's Call for Newspapers 'To Be Punished'

By: (AP) Maryland first lady Kendel Ehrlich, in a fiery speech to Republican supporters on the lower Eastern Shore, joined her husband's public fight against newspapers, saying they "lie" and "need to be punished."

As the guest speaker at the lower Shore's Lincoln Day Dinner in Ocean City on Sunday, Kendel Ehrlich declared herself ready for the campaign trail and also lashed out at elected Democratic officials, saying their behavior during the legislative session was "rude" and "despicable", the Worcester County Times reported.

As broadcast news stations picked up on the comments Monday, Gov. Robert Ehrlich moved quickly to support his wife and to clarify her remarks. Speaking alone to reporters, he said Kendel Ehrlich's beef is specifically with The (Baltimore) Sun and The Washington Post -- papers that the Ehrlichs say are biased against them and don't give them fair coverage.

The governor said he and the first lady were the target of personal attacks after news broke last year that a longtime aide of the administration had spread rumors about Democratic rival Martin O'Malley on the Internet. E-mails released from aide Joseph Steffen's private account included one from Kendel Ehrlich, in which she said "We need you."

"Kendel appears to have been a target, and she takes that personally, too," the governor said, referring to Democratic calls for investigations and the media's coverage of it.

The first lady's remarks also were sparked by her outrage over the legislature's dismantling of the Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families.

"She is quite upset about it, and as you know, she is direct," the governor said, adding that neither of them strive to be politically correct.

Kendel Ehrlich, speaking to the Republican central committees Worcester, Wicomico and Somerset counties, gave a stump-style speech and called on supporters for help re-electing the governor.

"We need your help, and I mean now. Get your bumper stickers out," she said, adding, "It is going to be ugly. Most major newspapers are going to be after him. It's not fun."

The governor's battle with The (Sun is ongoing, and the administration logs daily its complaints the paper's coverage, pointing out what he feels are errors and omissions in articles, editorials, and cartoons.

The newspaper sued Ehrlich last year after the Republican governor prohibited employees of the executive branch from talking to a Sun reporter and columnist. The newspaper claimed the ban violated the writers' First Amendment rights by denying them the same opportunities to seek information as anyone else. The suit was dismissed, and the paper has filed an appeal.

"I don't think we would have been in business for 168 years by telling lies in the newspaper," Sun editor Tim Franklin said.


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