Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) says President Donald Trump’s attacks against the press are reminiscent of similar tactics employed by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
During his first year in office, Trump has repeatedly blasted the nation’s news media as “fake” and dishonest, even going so far as to call it “the enemy of the American people” last year.
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday, Flake, a frequent critic of the president, said he planned to give a speech Wednesday about the president’s behavior.
“When you reflexively refer to the press as the enemy of the people or fake news, that has real damage,” Flake said on Sunday to ABC host George Stephanopoulos. “It has real damage to our standing in the world. And I noted how bad it is for a president to take what was popularized by Joseph Stalin, the enemy of the people, to refer to the press.”
Stalin infamously used the phrase “enemies of the people” to consolidate power during the early years of the Soviet Union, sending critics and detractors to suffer in labor camps.
Meanwhile, Trump on Wednesday is also expected to announce the winners of something he dubbed as the “The Fake News Awards.” The prizes, he said, will go to “the most corrupt and biased” news organizations.
Trump over the weekend disputed The Wall Street Journal’s account of an interview he did with the paper last week in which he was quoted as saying he probably has a very good relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump claimed on Twitter that he actually said “I’d have a good relationship with” the authoritarian leader, a distinction he called a “big difference.”
The Wall Street Journal, however, posted audio of the interview on Sunday and said it stood by its reporting.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said that Flake’s Sunday quote was an excerpt from an advanced copy of his speech.