(CNN)Sen. John McCain slammed President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media this week by noting dictators “get started by suppressing free press.”
It was a startling observation from a sitting member of Congress against the President of the United States, especially considering McCain is a member of Trump’s party.
The AZ senator said, “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 am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee said Americans must pay attention to history to understand the past connections between leaders of oppressive governments and efforts to stifle the media.
“They get started by suppressing free press, in other words, a consolidation of power – 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.”
Trump tweeted Friday that media outlets were “the enemy of the American people”.