News Vet Dan Rather Calls Trump's Press Conference "Unsettling"; Sen. McCain Warns Press Attacks Are "How Dictators Get Started"
February 20, 2017
Dan Rather / Facebook & Jonathan Landay and Andrea Shalal / Reuters
Dan Rather writes: "Donald Trump's press conference yesterday is one of the most unusual and unsettling from a president perhaps in our nation's history. It reminds me a bit of the final days of President Nixon's tenure." Meanwhile, Senator John McCain has defended the media against the latest attack by Trump, warning that suppressing the free press is "how dictators get started."
Donald Trump's Press Conference:
"Unusual and Unsettling"
Dan Rather / Facebook
(February 19, 2017) -- President Donald Trump's press conference yesterday is one of the most unusual and unsettling from a president perhaps in our nation's history. It reminds me a bit of the final days of President Nixon's tenure, when the world was collapsing about him. But Mr. Trump is not yet a month into his presidency.
As many of my fellow journalists have noted, the scorn for Mr. Trump's ramblings and incoherence, nevermind the matter of the topics he did address, has been widespread. But it would be a grave mistake to think it is universal. This President remains deeply popular with his base. While his overall numbers are sinking well below any historical comparisons, his numbers amongst Republicans seem to be floating on helium.
This is one of the great urgencies of the moment -- a deep bifurcation in how the country sees the President and the Republican agenda as a whole. The two are linked but only weakly. The effects of this can be seen by the tepid criticism at best from the GOP leadership and rank and file on Capitol Hill.
Even as many in the press and on the political left -- and even maybe independents -- see an Administration teetering on collapse. Republican voters see it very differently. at least for now. The votes on controversial cabinet posts continue with few speed bumps.
The latest vote on Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier whose potentially explosive emails were ordered by a judge to be released, is a perfect case in point as this article in from The New Yorker makes clear.
Suppressing Free Press Is 'How Dictators
Get Started': Says Senator McCain
Jonathan Landay and Andrea Shalal / Reuters
(February 19, 2017) -- Senator John McCain, defending the media against the latest attack by President Donald Trump, warned that suppressing the free press was "how dictators get started".
The Arizona Republican, a frequent critic of Trump, was responding to a tweet in which Trump accused the media of being "the enemy of the American people".
The international order established after World War Two was built in part on a free press, McCain said in an excerpt of an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" that was released in advance of the full Sunday morning broadcast.
"I hate the press. I hate you especially," he told interviewer Chuck Todd from an international security conference in Munich. "But the fact is we need you. We need a free press. We must have it. It's vital."
"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," he continued.
"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. 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," McCain said.
US Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire, told the conference on Sunday she was also concerned about Trump's comments.
"The real danger is the president's criticism of the media," Shaheen told the conference. "A free press . . . is very important to maintaining democracy, and efforts on the part of a president to undermine and manipulate the press are very dangerous."
The comments from US lawmakers followed Trump's tweet and came days after the president held a raucous news conference at which he repeatedly criticized news reports about disorder in the White House and leaks of his telephone conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the importance of a free press at the conference on Saturday, saying, "I have high respect for journalists. We've always had good results, at least in Germany, by relying on mutual respect."
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.