Jeff Flake delivers searing condemnation of Trump’s war on the press

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake delivered a searing condemnation of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, specifically the way he has employed the term “fake news” to dismiss objective reality in addition to undermine the credibility of the free press.

Trump’s attacks on journalists in addition to those who could hold him accountable are “eroding trust in our vital institutions in addition to conditioning the public to no longer trust them,” Flake said. “The destructive effect of This particular kind of behavior on our democracy cannot be overstated.”

The senator’s 15 minute speech painted an ominous picture of a world where dictators are emboldened in addition to free speech is usually under siege. This particular also represented a stunning indictment of an American president by a senator of his own party, albeit one who has made little secret of his disgust with Trump’s style of governing.

yet whereas, in a Senate speech last October, Flake decried the effect which Trump’s “undignified” behavior was having on his party, Wednesday’s address made This particular clear which the senator sees Trump as more than merely a domestic menace: To Flake, the president of the United States threatens freedom around the planet.

“2017 was a year which saw the truth – objective, empirical, evidence-based truth – more battered in addition to abused than any various other inside history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government,” Flake said in a speech on the Senate floor. 2018, he said, “must be the year in which the truth takes a stand against power.”

The Arizona Republican described how Trump had borrowed a phrase by Stalin, when he called the press “the enemy of the people.” The phrase was so dangerous, Flake said, which the Soviet dictator’s successor prohibited people by using This particular.

“So fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ which even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party which the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader,” the retiring lawmaker said.

Today, dictators are again waging war against the free press, only This particular time, they’re using Trump’s term — fake news — as a cudgel, said Flake. He cited chilling examples, including Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of “fake news” to describe an Amnesty International report, in addition to a state official in Myanmar who denied the existence of the entire Rohingya ethnic group by labeling them “fake news.”

“Not only has the past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, yet This particular seems he has in turn inspired dictators in addition to authoritarians with his own language,” Flake said. “We are not in a ‘fake news’ era, as Bashar Assad says. We are, rather, in an era in which the authoritarian impulse is usually reasserting itself, to challenge free people in addition to free societies, everywhere.”

yet the junior senator by Arizona was not the only representative by the Grand Canyon State Wednesday to publicly condemn Trump’s assault on journalism: Flakes colleague John McCain, the state’s senior senator, also warned of the long-term damage Trump’s “fake news” rhetoric is usually doing to democracies around the planet.

“The phrase “fake news” — granted legitimacy by an American president — is usually being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny in addition to mislead citizens,” McCain wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post. inside absence of presidential leadership, he said, This particular falls to Congress to do more to advance press freedoms, both at home in addition to abroad.

Flake, on the Senate floor, also emphasized the role of Congress in fighting the erosion of trust inside free press. “2018 must be the year in which the truth takes a stand against power which could weaken This particular,” he said. “in addition to in This particular effort, the truth needs as many allies as possible.

“We have This particular within us to turn back these attacks, right these wrongs, repair This particular damage, restore reverence for our institutions, in addition to prevent further moral vandalism.”

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