Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in his Senate floor speech directed at President Trump: “The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy.” https://t.co/IQIn7FGSrV pic.twitter.com/FO4hIpT6hl
— CNN (@CNN) January 17, 2018
On Wednesday morning, outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) delivered a stirring speech on the United States Senate floor condemning President Trump for, among other things, his repeated attacks on the country’s free press. The speech was by no means the junior senator’s first foray into the popular world of Trump-bashing, but now that he has decided not to seek re-election later this year (while giving the opportunity to run to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio), it seems Flake doesn’t mind doubling down on his Trump criticism. Yet as one Washington Post reporter pointed out on Twitter, Flake’s speech was barely attended.
After connecting Trump’s favorite insult, “fake news,” and others to Joseph Stalin’s dictatorial rule over the Soviet Union (and phrases like “enemy of the people”), Flake got to the point:
“Despotism is the enemy of the people. The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. 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. I dare say that anyone who’s had the privilege and awesome responsibility to serve in this chamber knows that these reflexive slurs of ‘fake news’ are dubious at best.”
Citing reports from early 2017, Flake then accused Trump of having “inspired dictators and authoritarians” around the world. However, as powerful and thought-out many of the senator’s comments were on Wednesday, Washington Post congressional reporter Erica Werner noted on Twitter that aside from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), and “fewer than half-a-dozen reporters,” no one else was present in the Senate chamber for the address.
You can watch the entirety of Flake’s speech below.
(Via CNN & C-SPAN)