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Presidential historian: Calling press 'enemy of the people' is a 'totalitarian' strategy

Presidential historian: Calling press 'enemy of the people' is a 'totalitarian' strategy
© Camille Fine

Presidential historian Jon Meacham on Friday lashed out at President TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Trump believes Kushner relationship with Saudi crown prince a liability: report Christine Blasey Ford to be honored by Palo Alto City Council MORE for calling the media an “enemy of the people,” saying it’s a “totalitarian” strategy.

Meacham, while appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," said Trump's frequent targeting of the media will become his legacy

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“It’s an elective kind of base management,” Meacham said of Trump’s frequent attacks on the press. “It’s pernicious, it’s dangerous — and this is not media elite people defending media elite people.”

“It’s simply a Stalinist phrase, for God’s sake,” he added. “It comes out of totalitarian regimes to declare that a free press is the enemy of the people.”

Meacham, a frequent critic of the president, said he thinks it is in the best interest of the Trump administration to stop playing this “totalitarianism card.”

The “Morning Joe” segment on Friday was discussing White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders's refusal to agree or disagree with Trump’s claim that the media is the “enemy of the people.”

During a Thursday press conference, Sanders said she speaks on behalf of the president, who has made his thoughts about the press “very clear.”

CNN reporter Jim Acosta verbally sparred with Sanders during the briefing before walking out in protest.

David Ignatius, an associate editor at The Washington Post, in the "Morning Joe" segment went on to rip Sanders for her job performance.

“That press room that Sarah Sanders is running is toxic,” Ignatius said. “I’ve never seen anything like that in 40-plus years of being a journalist. She should be ashamed of the briefing process that she’s running.”

Ignatius pointed out that Sanders’s defense of the president contrasted with White House adviser Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpAttacks on public figures are growing The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump sends Pompeo to meet Saudi king | How Trump could work with a Dem House | Trump heads to Florida to view hurricane damage Watchdog files Hatch Act complaint against Sanders for picture with Kanye in MAGA hat MORE, who disagreed with her father earlier on Thursday.

"I’ve received my fair share of reporting on me personally that I know not to be fully accurate, so I’ve had some sensitivity around why people have concerns and gripe, especially when they sort of feel targeted," Ivanka Trump said during an Axios event. "But no, I do not feel that the media is the enemy of the people."