In a Wednesday evening tweet, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called on President Donald Trump to stop using “fake news” to discredit journalists in light of a report about journalists jailed for similar charges overseas.
Linking to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists that details the 21 international journalists imprisoned for publishing “false news,” McCain said the president’s use of his favorite epithet “empowers repressive regimes to jail reporters & silence the truth.”
.@pressfreedom's annual report shows record # of journalists imprisoned worldwide in 2017, including 21 on "fake news" charges. @POTUS must understand his harmful rhetoric only empowers repressive regimes to jail reporters & silence the truth. https://t.co/S65iPnPBsN
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) December 13, 2017
In their report, the CPJ noted that “Trump’s nationalistic rhetoric, fixation on Islamic extremism, and insistence on labeling critical media ‘fake news’ serves to reinforce the framework of accusations and legal charges that allow leaders to preside over the jailing of journalists.”
As CNN noted in a report on McCain’s statement, the one-time presidential contender has often criticized the president, particularly over his anti-journalist rhetoric.
“If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” McCain told NBC news in February. “And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”