McCain says a free press is essential to a healthy democracy

The Senator cautions about Trump's efforts to muzzle a free press, saying “that’s how dictators get started”

In this photo taken July 7, 2015, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Department of Veterans Affairs faces a serious numbers problem _ multiple in fact. It can't count how many veterans died while waiting to sign up for health care. It says some VA hospitals may have to close if the agency can't get $2.5 billion. And a year after scandal rocked the department, congressional Republicans want to know why the number of employees fired is so low. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
In this photo taken July 7, 2015, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Department of Veterans Affairs faces a serious numbers problem _ multiple in fact. It can't count how many veterans died while waiting to sign up for health care. It says some VA hospitals may have to close if the agency can't get $2.5 billion. And a year after scandal rocked the department, congressional Republicans want to know why the number of employees fired is so low. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) — Sen. John McCain says a free press is vital “to preserve democracy as we know it.” And he cautions about efforts to muzzle a free press, saying “that’s how dictators get started.”

The Arizona senator was asked in an interview for NBC’s “Meet the Press” how he felt about President Donald Trump’s tweet criticizing “the fake news media” that said “it is the enemy of the American people.”

McCain tells “Meet the Press,” ”The fact is we need you.”

He adds: “When you look at history, the first thing dictators do is shut down the press.”

McCain says he isn’t saying Trump is trying to be a dictator but “we need to learn the lessons of history.”

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