Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis said Sunday that he does not “have any issues with the press” in a break with President Donald Trump’s continued attacks on the media.
“I’ve had some rather contentious times with the press,” Mattis told reporters in Abu Dhabi. “But no, the press as far as I’m concerned are a constituency that we deal with, and I don’t have any issues with the press myself.”
Defense Sec. James Mattis on Pres. Trump calling the press the “enemy of the American people”: “I don’t have any issues with the press.” pic.twitter.com/SRfmJp0QaI
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 19, 2017
In a tweet posted Friday, Trump claimed that the “FAKE NEWS media” is not his personal nemesis but rather “the enemy of the American People.”
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said Saturday that Trump should be taken “seriously” in his remarks.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) warned in an interview aired Sunday that suppressing critical coverage is “how dictators get started.”
“If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” he said.
And Fox News host Chris Wallace pressed Priebus in an interview later the same day to answer for Trump’s comments.
“He said that the fake media, not certain stories, the fake media are an enemy to the country,” Wallace told Priebus. “We don’t have a state-run media in this country. That’s what they have in dictatorships.”