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miércoles, 17 de enero de 2018

John McCain attacks President Trump – and defends the media

There is a concerted effort, from within his own party, to paint President Donald Trump as a despot bent on creating a dictatorship. And those efforts emanate from the state of Arizona.

In an op-ed published on Tuesday by the The Washington Post, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) scolded Trump for attacking the media, and alleged that the president’s actions are having a negative effect on democracy around the world.

“President Trump does not seem to understand that his rhetoric and actions reverberate,” McCain wrote. The senator continued:

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. 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.

The Foreign Connection

McCain cited a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in his editorial, telling readers that “the organization documented 262 cases of journalists being imprisoned for their work” in 2017.

“Reporters around the world face intimidation, threats of violence, harassment, persecution and sometimes even death as governments resort to brutal censorship to silence the truth,” McCain claimed, adding:

The committee’s report revealed a bleak global climate for press freedom, as more governments seek to control access to information and limit freedom of opinion and expression. They do this not only by arresting journalists but also by fostering distrust of media coverage and accusing reporters of undermining national security and pride. Governments dub the press the “enemy of the people,” weaken or eliminate their independence, and exploit the lack of serious scrutiny to encroach on individual liberties and freedoms.

Not only did McCain accuse Trump of “encroaching” on freedom, however. The senator also alleged that the president’s “attempts to undermine the free press also make it more difficult to hold repressive governments accountable.”

“We cannot afford to abdicate America’s long-standing role as defender of human rights and democratic principles throughout the world,” he wrote before asserting, “Without strong leadership in the White House, Congress must commit to protecting independent journalism, preserving an open and free media environment, and defending the fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression.”

The Arizona Connection

The Arizona senator’s op-ed was published just one day before his counterpart, retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), stood on the floor of the Senate and compared the president to Soviet despot Joseph Stalin.

“An American president who cannot take criticism, who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger,” Sen. Flake said on Wednesday. He continued:

It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies.

The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn’t suit him “fake news,” it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.

It seems that the Arizona senators feel that Trump’s attack on the media is unwarranted, but the president has been left with little choice. Just this week, he was misquoted in a Wall Street Journal article that alleged the president felt he had a “good relationship” with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Additionally, a false ABC News report in early December 2017 resulted in a significant hiccup in the stock market.

As president, Trump is taking it upon himself to protect Americans from the fake news that is hurting his and America’s global reputation — and Americans’ wallets — but with Republicans like McCain and Flake in Congress, this job isn’t getting any easier.