One day after John McCain, a known critic of Donald Trump, took a stab at the Republican president when he told members of the European political elite gathered at a military conference in Munich that the Trump administration "is in disarray", further stoking concerns about the stability and order at the White House, the neo-conservative senator spoke to NBC's Chuck Todd, who will air the full interview on Sunday morning.
The topic of discussion was, naturally, Trump's tweet from last night, in which he said "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" and to which Todd responded at the time that "I would hope that our leaders would never believe that any American desires to make another American an enemy. Let's dial it back." It appears that by "dialing it back" he didn't mean stop talking about the ongoing feud between the president and the media, as that was the topic of the following 90 second exchange, in which the failed presidential candidate once again slammed Trump, and told Todd that "if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and in many times adversarial free press, and without it we'd lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started."
Full exchange below:
CHUCK TODD: I'm curious of your reaction to a tweet that the president sent Friday night. "The fake news media, failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American people." You believe the press is the enemy? You believe any group of Americans are the enemy of another group of Americans?
JOHN MCCAIN: I was talking about the period as, you know, of the new world order. 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. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital. If you want to preserve – I'm very serious now – if you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.
CHUCK TODD: That's how dictators get started, with tweets like that?
JOHN MCCAIN: No. They get started by suppressing free press. In other words, a consolidation of power when you look at history, 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.
McCain's latest attack on Trump has led to several notable reactions on social media, one being that it was McCain's pick of Sarah Palin as a VP running mate that opened the door for a Trump presidency in the first place; another is that as a Senator he has the power to "do something about" a potential Trump "dictatorship" and yet he has voted with the president 94% of the time.
Senator McCain has voted with the president 94% of the time, according to Politico. https://t.co/ZtRTwNC9AU— Bob Ivry (@bobivry) February 18, 2017
A third response is that if there is indeed a shadow government forming behind the "soft coup" attempt to potentially oust Trump, then McCain is not far from it; yet others have pointed out that despite the escalating tensions between Trump and the press, the former remains the democratically elected POTUS and that the majority of Americans support him in his feud with a media which on numerous occasions has indeed demonstrated to be distributing what is so simplistically called "fake news", which as a reminder is what Trump is "ranting and raving" against, not the concept of a free press, or the First Amendment as much as the corporate-owned press would like to see itself made into a martyr defending these values.
In any case, with relations between the Executive branch and the Fourth Estate at levels never seen before, many wonder what happens next, and whether this latest escalation between the two sides presages an even greater scandal to be revealed in the coming days.