Gov. LePage had a chance to clear the air with the city of Portland and the struggling groundfishing industry Thursday, putting to rest allegations that the he had ordered a member of his administration to stop cooperating with the state’s biggest city and job creator for political reasons.

Before he even sat down with Portland Mayor Nicholas Mavodones, however, LePage decided to use the moment in a way that lent credence to one of his detractors’ most frequent criticisms of him — that he is a bully who lacks the character and discipline to carry out the complicated task of leading the state.

His target this time was not Portland, but the news media, which he accused of failing to get his side of the story before going to print with allegations made by outgoing Commissioner of Marine Resources Norman Olsen. When MaineToday Media State House reporter Rebekah Metzler challenged LePage — she had made numerous calls to his office seeking his comment on the story — LePage lashed out at her personally, charging, preposterously, that “you have never written an honest thing since I’ve been governor.”

That is an outrageous falsehood, and one that the governor couldn’t back up if he tried. But he didn’t try, instead turning his back and walking away from the reporters, once again, without taking questions.

Let’s be clear: LePage has the prerogative of speaking or not speaking to whomever he wants, but the governor can’t have it both ways. He can comment or not comment on a story, but he can’t refuse to comment and then call the story unfair because he wasn’t quoted.

Metzler, a well-respected professional journalist, did her job and called LePage’s office the day Olsen tendered his resignation. She was told that the governor was unavailable for comment. A spokesman did go on the record denying the allegations, and that denial was in her story.

The governor has more opportunity than any other person in the state of Maine to be heard. If he wants to tell his side of a story, or challenge statements made by others, he can start by responding to reporters’ requests for comment. If he doesn’t want to do that, he can call a press conference or issue a statement.

If the governor wants to question the accuracy of a news story, he or his communication staff can ask for a correction or ask us to publish a written response. We will gladly offer him space on our opinion pages.

So what did he do in this case? He chose to hide behind a spokesman, and then claimed that the spokesman did not adequately represent his point of view.

If the point of his diatribe was to discredit the media for publishing Olsen’s charges — which LePage says are untrue — the governor failed miserably. He showed himself, as he has all too often, to be a thin-skinned hypocrite who views anyone who disagrees with him as an enemy.

We have been supportive of the governor on a number of his policy initiatives. We backed his pension reform plan, his tax policy and his education initiative to help students transition from high school to college.

But we have to question his ability to achieve these difficult ends when he is unable or unwilling to carry out the relatively simple task of communicating with the people of Maine.

It’s not too much to ask that the highest elected official in the state listen to all sides of an argument and behave as a figure worthy of respect. In fact, that’s the minimum we should expect from any leader elected to represent all the people.

LePage’s latest tantrum may have played well with his most ardent supporters, who see the governor as a plain-spoken straight shooter who tells it like it is. But the majority of Mainers — 62 percent of those who voted in the 2010 election, don’t forget, voted for someone other than LePage — undoubtedly view his antics as offensive and embarrassing.

We keep hoping that, eventually, he will grow into the job. Unfortunately, the evidence so far suggests that he never will.

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