In a searing speech on the Senate floor Wednesday morning, Sen. Jeff Flake denounced President Donald Trump for his sustained attacks against the news media, going so far as to compare his rhetoric to that of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
In the remarks from the Senate floor, Flake, R-Ariz., pointed to the Soviet Union’s 30-year dictator as seeming inspiration for Trump’s attacks against the press, singling out a phrase that each used to refer to their interpreted opposition.
“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 said. “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, long an outspoken critic of the president, planned his speech to coincide with the announced date of Trump’s “Fake News Awards,” which the president publicized in a Twitter post at the beginning of the month. Already delayed once, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders called such a ceremony a “potential event” Tuesday and did not provide details about it when asked at the day’s press briefing.
Last February, Trump drew widespread condemnation when he tweeted that the “FAKE NEWS media” was not his enemy, but rather “the enemy of the American people,” a charge his critics felt took his disdain for the coverage of his administration beyond his usual attacks.