Flake: Trump's 'fake news' comments 'give comfort to dictators'

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Live coverage: Trump delivers State of the Union Sasse’s jabs at Trump spark talk of primary challenger MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday said he remains concerned about President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE’s “relationship with the truth,” specifically citing Trump’s tendency to label unfavorable stories “fake news.”

“When you call fake things real and real things fake, what you do is give comfort to dictators worldwide who want to label protests or their opposition as fake news. So I think that’s tremendously damaging,” Flake said on “Meet The Press Daily.”

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Flake, who has been a frequent and vocal critic of the president, said he plans to make a series of speeches on the Senate floor in the coming days about Trump’s relationship with the truth. 

Flake announced last year he would not seek reelection in November. 

On Tuesday, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a staunch Trump supporter whom the president pardoned after he was convicted of ignoring court orders, announced his intention to run for Flake's seat. The Arizona race could include a crowded GOP primary.

Trump often lashes out at the media and labeled stories “fake news,” typically attacking mainstream outlets such as CNN and The New York Times.

The phrase has been co-opted by authoritarian leaders elsewhere, including in Syria, the Philippines and Turkey.

The president announced last week that he would present “the most dishonest & corrupt media awards” on Wednesday.