Arizona Sen. John McCain attacked President Trump's treatment of the media in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
According to KTLA, McCain is currently away from Washington while he recovers from cancer treatment.
The piece, published by The Washington Post on Jan. 16, began with a review of former Republican President Ronald Reagan's creation of the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award in honor of those who have "fought to spread liberty worldwide."
"Reagan recognized that as leader of the free world, his words carried enormous weight, and he used them to inspire the unprecedented spread of democracy around the world," the GOP senator wrote. He continued:
President Trump does not seem to understand that his rhetoric and actions reverberate in the same way. 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.
McCain argued that journalists face danger in doing their jobs. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, there were 262 cases of imprisonment for journalism in 2017, one of the highest numbers on record. Of those 262 cases, 21 of them were for "fake news" charges.
The senator wrote that in addition to limiting libel laws, governments can hinder press freedom by creating an environment of general mistrust. He acknowledged growing censorship in powerful nations such as the U.K. and expressed concern that the U.S. is following suit.
"The Trump administration's attitude toward [harming journalists] has been inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst," McCain wrote. "While administration officials often condemn violence against reporters abroad, Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets."
McCain wrote that he worried that attacking legitimate news as fake will delegitimize independent human rights investigations against corrupt regimes. He concluded that Congress must uphold freedom of the press, asserting that "only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom."
McCain was joined in condemning the president's treatment of the press by fellow Arizona GOP Senator Jeff Flake, Vox reports.
Flake released parts of a pre-planned speech in anticipation of the "Fake News Awards," which will supposedly occur on Jan. 17.
According to one excerpt, Flake plans to say that Trump's reference to the press as "the enemy of the state" is a "testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies."