Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) compared the actions of President Donald Trump to that of a dictator when asked to comment about his controversial tweet calling the media "the enemy of the American people." He made the comments on NBC's "Meet the Press" with Chuck Todd Saturday.
"Do you believe the press is 'the enemy'?" Todd asked after presenting and reading the tweet from Trump. "Do you believe any group of Americans are the enemy of another group of Americans?"
"I was talking about the period as, of you know, of a new world order," McCain responded.
A fundamental part of that new world order was a free press. I hate the press. I hate you, especially, but the fact is, I, we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's viral. 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'm afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started.
"That's, that's how dictators get started?" Todd asked, seemingly surprised with the characterization. "With tweets like that?"
"With, no, they get started with suppressing a free press," McCain explained. "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."
"Senator McCain, I'm gonna leave it there," Todd concluded. "You are a student of history that's for sure. I always appreciate you sharing your views, no matter how much you hate me. That's alright."
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) February 18, 2017
Critics of Trump have long pointed to signs of what they consider his authoritarian tendencies, from defending Russian President Vladimir Putin to praising the actions taken by the Chinese government in Tiananmen Square. Criticizing the media as biased and unfair has been a feature of the Trump's rhetoric since he began running for the presidency in 2015, causing many in the media to fear what reprisals might come from criticizing him.
The "enemies" tweet on Trump's personal Twitter account was almost immediately deleted, but it was published minutes later again after he added more news outlets to the list of "enemies of the American people."