Kentucky's governor wasn't pleased to hear the state's largest newspaper, the Louisville Courier Journal, was partnering with ProPublica to investigate a state-run government agency.
Republican Gov. Matt Bevin posted a series of tweets attacking both news organizations and recorded a three-minute video on social media detailing his disdain for both outlets, which he characterized as biased.
"Who is holding the Courier Journal accountable?" Bevin questions in the video as he segued into his questions about the founders of ProPublica, alleging that it's supported by "George, I hate America, Soros," a billionaire supporter of the Democratic Party.
ProPublica lists that Soros' Open Society Foundations funds less than 2 percent of the company's operations. Since its founding in 2007, the non-profit has won four Pulitzer Prizes, journalism's highest honor. The Courier Journal, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, has won 10 Pulitzers over its 150-year history.
"This is the sad reality of who the Courier Journal, which pretends that it's an actual news organization or a publication, is so remarkably biased," Bevin claims in the video. "They are now full in bed with this particular organization, ProPublica."
It's not entirely clear why Bevin is so outraged at the Courier Journal for partnering with ProPublica. The Journal was chosen as part of ProPublica's local reporting network to ramp up coverage of statehouses across the country, an area that has been cut in newsrooms nationwide.
In a statement, Rick Green, Courier Journal editor and Midwest Editor for USA TODAY Network, said: "Since 1868, the Courier Journal has proudly served its readers, earning 10 Pulitzer Prizes and delivering fair and unbiased coverage. I appreciate Gov. Bevin sharing tonight the news of our partnership with ProPublica with Kentucky residents and taxpayers. They certainly know that for 150 years, the Courier Journal has stood by its good work. We certainly intend to do the same in 2019 in our partnership with ProPublica."
In a series of tweets, ProPublica and its editors also defended itself and the Courier Journal. The news organization's editor-in-chief, Stephen Engelberg, said Bevin's response to the mere announcement of an upcoming investigation was unlike anything he'd seen before.
"If the press release announcing our year-long partnership with the @journalcourier stirs up this kind of hysteria, what is @GovMattBevin going to do when we publish our first story?" Engelberg wrote on Twitter.
The company also responded to Bevin's criticism in a series of tweets.
"You called us a 'biased, left-wing organization.' Actually, we believe in evidence. Hard, indisputable evidence. Carefully gathered and precisely told. Perhaps that’s why our peers have given us 4 Pulitzers, 3 Peabodys, 2 Emmys, 6 Polks, a duPont and a National Magazine Award," the news organization wrote.
ProPublica's partnerships with other newsrooms last year helped expose lapses in worker safety at nuclear facilities; failures in public housing; and conflicts of interest that have allowed Louisiana legislators to benefit themselves, their relatives and their clients.
Still, Bevin, an ally of President Donald Trump who has clashed with the media in the past, encouraged his 85,000 Twitter followers to "disregard" the Courier Journal.
"This is why so many people in Kentucky no longer give you the time of day. It's why I encourage to just disregard the nonsense that comes out of this biased, left-wing organization," he said in his video.
Some online accused Bevin of being frightened of what the news organizations might uncover about state politics.
"Only a governor with something to hide would be afraid of the press," one Twitter user said. "I look forward to what they uncover."
Another chimed in, writing in response to the governor that "preemptively dragging journalists before their investigation has begun makes you seem really scared, Governor. What are you afraid they’ll find?"
Bevin's office did not immediately respond to questions from USA TODAY.