GOP Senators Graham And McCain Break With Trump: Free Press 'Worth Dying For'

While President Donald Trump has amped up his attacks on the media, using press conferences to berate media outlets and claiming all negative news about his presidency is "fake news," members of the Republican party are showing signs of breaking ranks. On the media and free press issue, in particular, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John McCain (R-Arizona) have spoken out about the crucial need for a free press with some of the boldest statements so far of any politicians on either side of the political fence. Graham was the latest to defend the importance of a free press during an appearance on Face The Nation Sunday.

"The backbone of democracy is a free press and an independent judiciary, and they are worth fighting and dying for."
Graham did say he felt the press have been harsh in their treatment of President Trump, but his comments indicate he doesn't agree with Trump's tweet that the media is the "enemy" of the American people. While many Republicans and even a few Democrats have kept relatively silent about some of President Trump's more controversial statements, Graham isn't the only senator to push back against President Trump's treatment of the press and the White House media press corps.

Republican Lindsey Graham has been ciritcal of President Trump
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) has been critical of some of President Donald Trump's policies and defended freedom of the press Sunday. [Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

Political news articles on the Inquisitr

McCain Weighs In On Freedom Of The Press After Trump Criticism

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) also had harsh words for the hostile relationship between President Trump and the press. In an interview with CNN, McCain told commentator Chuck Todd that although he "hated" CNN, he still believed the purpose of the media is to act as a safeguard against corruption and tyranny, and that the media, in general, is critical to a free society.
"If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That's how dictators get started."
President Trump at a White House press conference
U.S. President Donald Trump calls on a reporter during a White House news conference. [Image by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

Trump Said A Year Ago He Would Attack Press Freedom

During a presidential rally last February in Fort Worth, Texas, Trump made it clear that he was going to go on the attack against the media if he was elected president. Politico highlighted Trump's stance on weakening libel laws, which essentially protect the media from being sued when reporting on public figures unless they can show legal "malice." The legal definition shows that either the media outlet willfully published wrong information or showed "reckless disregard" for fact checking.
"I'm going to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money... You see, with me, they're not protected, because I'm not like other people but I'm not taking money. I'm not taking their money. We're going to open up libel laws, and we're going to have people sue you like you've never got sued before."

This Isn't The First Time Graham And McCain Have Taken On President Trump

Freedom of the press isn't the only issue that has prompted Graham and McCain to break ranks against President Trump and the majority of the Republican party. Both have also taken issue with Trump's controversial "Muslim ban" executive order that is currently on appeal after being ruled as unconstitutional by federal judges, and both have expressed concerns about reports of President Trump's ties to Russia and possible collusion with Russia by his campaign to manipulate the 2016 election.

Their criticism of Trump's immigration policies, in particular, drew the ire of the president, so naturally, he used his Twitter account to respond, going as far as to accuse both senators of trying to start "World War III."

For now, the rest of the Republican party, with few exceptions, has been less outspoken than both McCain and Graham regarding the numerous executive orders and policies announced by President Donald Trump in his first month in the Oval Office.

[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]