McCain hits Trump: 'Fake news' rhetoric 'empowers repressive regimes'

McCain hits Trump: 'Fake news' rhetoric 'empowers repressive regimes'
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Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainEx-Montenegro leader fires back at Trump: ‘Strangest president' in history McCain: Trump plays into 'Putin's hands' by attacking Montenegro, questioning NATO obligations Joe Lieberman urges voters to back Crowley over Ocasio-Cortez in general MORE (R-Ariz.) slammed President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE on Wednesday for repeatedly labeling the media as “fake news," warning it "empowers repressive regimes to jail reporters & silence the truth."

In a tweet, he shared a new report that finds a record number of journalists were imprisoned in 2017.

“.@pressfreedom's annual report shows record # of journalists imprisoned worldwide in 2017, including 21 on "fake news" charges,” McCain tweeted. “@POTUS must understand his harmful rhetoric only empowers repressive regimes to jail reporters & silence the truth.”

The report, compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists, found that 262 journalists worldwide have been imprisoned this year in retaliation over their work.

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Trump often attacks journalists and reporters as “fake news,” especially those that are critical of him.

He has also used Twitter to attack specific reporters by name and demand their firing, including ABC News’s Brian Ross and The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel.

A Politico report last week found that authoritarian leaders in countries including Turkey, Syria, Venezuela and the Philippines have used the phrase “fake news” to delegitimize the media in their own countries.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Politico at the time the report was “really ridiculous.”

“The president isn’t against free speech but we do think reporting should be accurate,” she wrote in an email.

McCain has become a frequent critic of Trump, recently saying he has no “principles and beliefs.”