Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) published a blistering op-ed Tuesday night, admonishing President Donald Trump for his constant attempts to undermine the American press and warning that such attacks have an impact around the globe.
“He has threatened to continue his attempt to discredit the free press by bestowing ‘fake news awards’ upon reporters and news outlets whose coverage he disagrees with,” McCain wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy.”
McCain suggested that the Trump administration’s condemnation of violence against reporters abroad has little meaning when the President attacks the press in his own country. Trump’s constant criticism of the media “has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit,” McCain wrote.
“The phrase ‘fake news’ — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens,” the senator wrote.
McCain called on Trump and Congress to protect the freedom of the press, arguing that journalists are essential to democracy.
“Ultimately, freedom of information is critical for a democracy to succeed. We become better, stronger and more effective societies by having an informed and engaged public that pushes policymakers to best represent not only our interests but also our values,” he wrote. “Journalists play a major role in the promotion and protection of democracy and our unalienable rights, and they must be able to do their jobs freely. Only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom.”