Vice President Mike Pence told reporters Monday that, while the White House supports the idea of a free press, President Donald Trump will continue his confrontations with the media when he deems it necessary.
"Rest assured the president and I both strongly support a free and independent press, but you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when they play fast and loose with the facts," Pence said at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
"And the truth is that we have in President Trump someone who has a unique ability to speak directly to the American people. And when the media gets it wrong, I promise you President Trump will take his case straight to the American people and set the record straight," he added, likely referring to Trump's heavy utilization of his Twitter account to call out media networks when they say something with which he disagrees.
Pence says "rest assured" that he & Trump support free & fair press -- but will call out press when they "play fast & loose with the facts" pic.twitter.com/66x7hMoP9R
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) February 20, 2017
The comments come as Trump continues his ongoing assault on mainstream media, including his comments Friday declaring that mainstream news outlets should be considered the enemy of the American people.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Several notable figures have criticized Trump's remark, including Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain. McCain told NBC's Chuck Todd Sunday morning that the press is important to preserving American democracy, and added that Trump's mindset 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. And 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.
Fox News host Chris Wallace also publicly rebuked Trump's comments, saying on "Fox and Friends" Monday, "We can take criticism. But to say we’re the enemy of the American people, I think it really crosses an important line."