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McCain Compares Trump's Press Attacks To Dictatorship

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona does not agree with President Donald Trump about the media.

In an interview on NBC News' "Meet The Press" that will air on Feb. 19, McCain said that without a free press, he's afraid "we would lose much of our individual liberties over time."

"That's how dictators get started," he continued.

McCain was responding to a Feb. 17 tweet by Trump that said, "The FAKE NEWS media (failing [New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN]) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"

A few minutes earlier, Trump reportedly wrote a similar tweet, but quickly deleted it. The original tweet omitted ABC and CBS and included the word, "SICK!" The Hill reports.

Trump's Twitter attack on the media occurred one day after he gave a press conference on Feb. 16, where he referred to the media as "very fake news," and called his reported ties to Russia a "ruse."

In regards to the press conference, the president tweeted that Rush Limbaugh said it was "one of the most effective" he had ever seen, adding: "Many agree.Yet FAKE MEDIA  calls it differently! Dishonest."

Trump has lashed out at the media numerous times, and Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon told The New York Times in a January interview that reporters are the "opposition party." He said, "the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while," according to The Hill.

Trump, again on Twitter, told his followers to not "believe the main stream (fake news) media."

"The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it," the Feb. 18 tweet continued.

McCain told "Meet the Press" that he does not see Trump as a dictator, but that attacking journalists who question those in power is usually a characteristic of autocratic governments.

"When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press," McCain said. "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."

The Arizona Senator admits the relationship between the press and elected officials can be tense at times, half-jokingly stating that "a fundamental part of that new world order was a free press."

"But the fact is we need you," he said of the media.

Sources: NBC News, Donald Trump/Twitter (2) (3), The Hill / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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