Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona and harsh critic of President Donald Trump, intends to deliver a speech on the Senate floor this week condemning the White House for its “unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally-protected free press,” and comparing Trump to former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Excerpts from the speech that have been released revealed that Flake will draw the comparison due to the president’s use of the phrase “enemy of the people” when referring to the media, words similar to those used by Stalin, ABC News reported.
“It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies,” Flake’s speech reads. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people’ that even Nikita Khrushchev [Stalin’s successor as leader of the Soviet Union] forbade its use. And of course, the president has it precisely backward. Despotism is the enemy of the people, the free press is the despot’s enemy.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
“When you reflexively refer to the press as the ‘enemy of the people’ or ‘fake news,’ that has real damage,” Flake said in a Sunday interview on ABC’s “This Week” with George Staphanopoulos. “It has real damage to our standing in the world. And I noted how — how bad it is for a president to take [the phrase that] was popularized by Joseph Stalin, ‘the enemy of the people,’ to refer to the press.”
Flake asserted that “authoritarians across the world are using the term fake news to justify cracking down on their opposition or to staunch legitimate debate,” lamenting, “That’s nothing to be proud of.”
Fast-forward to the 3:30 minute mark in the following video to hear Flake’s comments on the matter.