Former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin said Thursday President Donald Trump and his chief strategist’s attacks on the media are “highly dangerous” and authoritarian-like.
In an interview with The New York Times, Trump adviser Steve Bannon labeled the media as “the opposition party” and said it should “be embarrassed” and “keep its mouth shut.”
“I think Mr. Bannon and Mr. Trump’s attacks on the media are highly dangerous. The media, the press, plays a significant role in our democracy, and in any democracy they are highly critical. You can have disputes and disagreements over bias and even over points of fact; but to continually attack and try to erode the credibility of the media when it’s doing its job, and doing its job well I would say, in the past week especially, challenging Trump, I think is dangerous,” McMullin told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead.”
McMullin, who is conservative, fought the notion that battling the press is a partisan issue.
“This isn’t a Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, or progressive sort-of-issue. Our freedom of the press and the importance of the press in our system, and the importance of the constitution, the importance of truth for heaven sakes in democracy and in our republic, are issues that should be bipartisan or nonpartisan,” he said. “These are things that we should all be able to rally around and protect as Americans.”
Tapper said he’s seen a lot of his conservative Facebook friends who seem very confused on what to believe any more.
McMullin responded: “This is what authoritarians or leaders with authoritarian tendencies do. It’s from the playbook that they use. Donald Trump through the past year has said he’s admired dictators and authoritarians from around the world. They attack the press because they want to undermine any other sources of information, so that people believe that only the authoritarian can be the source of information. Because, if authoritarians are able to do that, if leaders are able to undermine every other source of information, source of facts and truth, no one can hold them accountable.”
“We as a population start to become more divided because these leaders will tend to want to divide us and then feed us lies about each other. We saw Donald Trump do that throughout the campaign and he continues to do that today,” McMullin said.