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Editorial: Aiding and Abetting

Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) stood up for journalists last week in the midst of President Donald Trump’s continuing attacks on the press. In a commentary for The Washington Post, McCain said they provide cover for assaults on journalists worldwide.

“An American president who cannot take criticism — who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame — is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger,” Flake said in a speech on the Senate floor, calling Trump’s words “moral vandalism” and a siege on the truth. He called on Congress to end its silent acquiescence.

For his part, McCain wrote that the president continues to try and undercut a free press at home, empowering others to follow his lead to dangerous, even deadly, effect. “While administration officials often condemn violence against reporters abroad, Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets,” McCain wrote.

“This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit. The phrase ‘fake news’ — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens,” he said.

Some would argue our own president fits that bill as well. Perhaps a double-barreled defense of a free press will make some impression on Trump, but we wouldn’t bet the farm on it. Sad!