Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., plans to give a speech in the coming days that compares President Donald Trump’s public criticism of the news media to similar comments once made by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
A spokesman said that Flake, who will retire after this year amid intense political pressure sparked by his criticism of the president, plans to deliver the speech Wednesday before Trump announces the winners of his self-described “fake news” awards.
Flake plans to use his upcoming speech to denounce Trump for calling the news media “the enemy of the American people” last year.
In excerpts provided by his office, he is poised to blast Trump’s “unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally-protected free press” that he will call “as unprecedented as it is unwarranted.”
“It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies,” Flake will say, according to the excerpts. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”
Flake will add that Trump “has it precisely backward – despotism is the enemy of the people. The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn’t suit him ‘fake news,’ it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.”
“I don’t think that we should be using a phrase that’s been rejected as too loaded by a Soviet dictator,” Flake said on “Kasie DC.”
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Ed O’Keefe