McCain defends media: 'That’s how dictators get started'

US-Senator John McCain speaks at the Munich Security Conference 2017 in Munich, Germany, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The Munich Security Conference takes place from 17 to 19 February 2017. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

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US-Senator John McCain speaks at the Munich Security Conference 2017 in Munich, Germany, Friday, Feb. 17, 2017. The Munich Security Conference takes place from 17 to 19 February 2017. (Sven Hoppe/dpa via AP)

Sen. John McCain is defending the media after President Donald Trump tweeted that certain newsgroups are "the enemy of the American People."

An adversarial, free press is a fundamental part of democracy, McCain said.

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"I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time (without a free press)," McCain said in an interview with "Meet the Press" that airs Sunday. "That's how dictators get started."

"When you look at history," McCain continued, "the first thing that dictators do is shut down the press. And I'm not saying that President Trump is trying to be a dictator. I'm just saying we need to learn the lessons of history."

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

McCain clarified that he was not calling Trump a dictator, but said suppressing a free press is one of the first thing an autocratic administration attempts.

 "A fundamental part of that new world order was a free press. I hate the press, McCain said jokingly. "I hate you especially. But the fact is we need you."

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