News World Donald Trump: US Senator Jeff Flake compares President’s attacks on media to Stalin
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Donald Trump: US Senator Jeff Flake compares President’s attacks on media to Stalin

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump has announced the winners of his "fake news" awards. Photo: Getty
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Both sides of politics have launched a full frontal attack on US President Donald Trump over his fake news awards for dishonest reporting, with Republican senator Jeff Flake comparing Mr Trump to Josef Stalin.

In a rare intra-party rebuke from the Senate floor, Senator Flake said Mr Trump’s portrayal of the press as “the enemy of the people” and repeated White House references to “fake news” and “alternative facts” spur copycats such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

US Senator Jeff Flake
US Senator Jeff Flake condemned President Trump’s “fake news” awards. Photo: Getty

Stalin, who led the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until he died in 1953, used the phrase “enemy of the people” to describe those he wanted annihilated.

Mr Trump’s embrace of the phrase “should be a source of great shame”, Senator Flake said.

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was quick to hit back on Twitter saying to compare the US President to dictators was absurd.

Mr Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders also attacked Senator Flake.

“He’s not criticising the President because he’s against oppression. He’s criticising the President because he has terrible poll numbers,” she said.

“I think it’s unfortunate and certainly our position here at the White House is that we welcome access to the media everyday.”

A number of academic studies have found the amount of negative press given to the Trump administration far outweighs that endured by previous presidents.

Democrats were quick to join the pile on, including Senator Dick Durbin, who has publicly clashed with the President over which words he used when describing Haiti and Africa.

“We cannot allow this regiment of fake news and alternative fakes and words like those to diminish our commitment to the basic constitutional protection of freedom of the press,” Senator Durbin said.

“It is essential to the future of our democracy.”

Senator Flake, 55, an Arizona conservative who has frequently feuded with Mr Trump, in October described himself as out of step with his party and said he would not seek re-election. His term ends in January 2019.

“Not only has the past year seen an American President borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians … This is reprehensible,” Senator Flake said.

In February 2017, Mr Trump tweeted, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people!”

That same month, Mr Assad was quoted as dismissing charges of human rights violations at a military prison as “fake news”.

In the Philippines, Mr Duterte has also lashed out at a “fake news outlet” known for challenging his Government.

Noting Mr Trump gave out awards for “the most corrupt and dishonest” media, Senator Flake said “it beggars belief that an American President would engage in such a spectacle”.

On Twitter, Mr Trump has referred to the senator as “Flake(y)” and said Senator Flake dropped his re-election bid because he was doomed to lose.

Mr Trump announced the winners of the “fake news” awards on Twitter on Thursday (AEDT) but the link went down soon after he posted it.

“The site is temporarily offline, we are working to bring it back up. Please try again later,” it read.

Mr Trump’s “fake news” award winner was the New York Times’ Paul Krugman claiming markets would ‘never’ recover from Trump presidency.

Second place went to ABC News’ Brian Ross’ bungled report on former national security adviser Michael Flynn, followed by a CNN report that the Trump campaign had early access to hacked documents from WikiLeaks in third.

-with ABC