Chuck Todd and Matt Rivera
Sen. John McCain is defending the free press as an important part of a strong democracy in an exclusive interview on Meet the Press airing Sunday.
The Republican Arizona senator admitted that the relationship between the media and elected officials can sometimes be tense — highlighted by the Trump administration’s repeated sparring with reporters and the president calling news organizations “fake news.”
Half-jokingly, McCain said, “a fundamental part of that new world order was a free press. I hate the press. I hate you especially. But the fact is we need you.”
His defense of the fourth estate came in response to a Friday tweet from President Donald Trump in which he called the media “the enemy of the American People.”
Speaking from Germany, where he was attending the Munich Security Conference, McCain said that without a free press, “I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”
McCain clarified that he wasn’t referring to the president as a dictator, but that attacks on journalists who are questioning those in power are usually a hallmark of autocratic governments.
“When you look at history,” McCain said, “the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I’m not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I’m just saying we need to learn the lessons of history.”