Sen. John McCain has used the press to take aim at President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media.
The Republican senator from Arizona penned an op-ed for The Washington Post, condemning what he views as Trump’s attempts to discredit the free press.
The piece, which was published Tuesday night, was timed to coincide with the president’s previously disclosed plans to hold his “Fake News Awards” on Wednesday, though it is unclear if those alleged awards will take place today or ever.
McCain specifically mentioned Trump’s use of the term “fake news” and the mock awards he has touted.
“Whether Trump knows it or not, these efforts are being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy,” McCain wrote.
McCain cited statistics about violence against journalists and the 262 cases of reporters being imprisoned worldwide, as reported by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“While administration officials often condemn violence against reporters abroad, Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets. This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit,” he wrote.
McCain also noted that by using and legitimizing the term “fake news,” it allows repressive governments in other countries to do the same, making the work for activists in those countries more difficult.
“Without strong leadership in the White House, Congress must commit to protecting independent journalism, preserving an open and free media environment, and defending the fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression,” McCain wrote.
He argued that journalists must be able to do their jobs freely. “Only truth and transparency can guarantee freedom,” he said.
On Jan. 7, Trump tweeted that “The Fake News Awards” would be “presented to the losers” today.
When asked about the timing of the alleged awards during the daily press briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said she would keep the media “posted on any details around that potential event and what that would look like.”