WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Flake is planning to slam President Donald Trump’s attacks on the press on the Senate floor this week in a speech that will compare the president’s use of the term “enemy of the people” to describe the media to Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
“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,” Flake, R-Ariz., will say, according to excerpts of the speech provided to NBC News.
Trump called the media the “enemy of the people” in a February tweet. “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” the president wrote on Twitter.
“Mr. President, 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 plans to say in the Senate remarks.
“It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even (later Soviet leader) Nikita Khrushchev forbad its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin to for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader,” Flake will say.
“This alone should be a source of great shame for us in this body, especially those of us in the president’s party. For they are shameful and repulsive statements.”
The speech from one of Trump’s fiercest Republican critics comes as the president has promoted his “Fake News Awards” on Twitter, saying that the awards, expected to be on Wednesday, will go to “the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media.”