Sen. John McCain on Saturday took a broad swipe at President Donald Trump's attack on the media, warning that "how dictators get started" is by shutting down the press.
In an interview to air on NBC News' "Meet The Press," the Arizona Republican conceded the media and elected officials often have an adversarial relationship; the Trump administration has repeatedly sparred with reporters and Trump himself has labeled media organizations "fake news."
The remarks were posted ahead of the airing by NBC News.
"A fundamental part of that new world order was a free press," McCain said, adding laughingly: "I hate the press. I hate you especially. But the fact is we need you."
McCain's comments came in response to a Friday tweet from Trump in which he chillingly branded news outlets – the New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS and CNN – "the enemy of the American People."
McCain, speaking from Germany, where he was attending the Munich Security Conference, said the risks of not having a free press are too great.
"I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time," he said. "That's how dictators get started."
"When you look at history, the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press," he added. "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 president at his solo news conference at the White House Thursday lashed out at the media for reporting on turmoil in his administration, insisting it was operating as a "fine-tuned machine."
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