McCain Warns That Suppressing Free Press Is ‘How Dictators Get Started’

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz delivers his speech titled “America’s Enduring Commitment to Security and Prosperity in Asia” at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) Distinguished Public Lecture on Friday, June 3, 2016 in Singapore. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
Wong Maye-E/AP

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) defended the free press in an interview aired Sunday and warned 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,” McCain said in an interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

He said that a free press is “vital” to that.

“Without it I’m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started,” McCain said.

“That’s how dictators get started? With tweets like that?” Chuck Todd asked McCain, referring to a tweet posted by President Donald Trump on Friday.

In the post, Trump railed against the “FAKE NEWS media” as “the enemy of the American People.”

“No, they get started by suppressing a free press,” McCain said Sunday. “The first thing that dictators do is they 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.”

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