Trump ‘calls real things fake and fake things real’: Republican Jeff Flake grabs Trump by the collar over his claim that ‘fake news’ is behind political violence

Senate Judiciary Committee Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) negotiates with fellow committee members during a mark up hearing about Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona continued to voice his opposition against President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and pushed back against his tirade on news organisations.
  • Trump recently blamed the media for a series of violent incidents that have been garnered national attention.
  • Flake, who described Trump’s recent attacks on the press as “patently absurd” and “just wrong,” suggested “we all ought to stand up and speak out.”

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona voiced his opposition toward President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and pushed back against Trump’s tirade against news organisations over reporting that may shine an unflattering light on his administration.

“Words matter, and when the president denigrates the press and the First Amendment, and calls real things fake and fake things real, it has a real effect around the world,” Flake said during an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer. “And we can’t forget that.”

On Friday, Trump blamed the media for reporting on acts of political violence. Two such events captured the nation’s attention last week:

Critics have charged that Trump’s rhetoric toward his opponents have emboldened politically-motivated agitators.

“You are creating violence by not writing the truth,” Trump told reporters. “The fake news is creating the violence.”

Flake said Trump’s recent attacks on the press are “patently absurd” and “just wrong,” and said “we all ought to stand up and speak out” against violence towards the media.

Jeff Flake
Sen. Jeff Flake speaks to members of the media after a meeting in the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, September 28, 2018. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Flake said he was particularly distressed by Trump’s decision to deploy as many as 15,000 US troops to the US-Mexico border, which the White House claims is under threat from a caravan of migrants travelling through Mexico.

The Trump administration publicized the purported national security threat of the caravan by producing an advertisement that critics claim was racist and divisive.

“I certainly don’t like the tone that President Trump has taken with regard to blaming immigrants,” Flake said, adding that the Trump’s claims were “just sickening and frankly, very untrue.”

“To see the fearmongering that’s going on, particularly with regard to immigration, is just unseemly,” Flake said. “It really is.”

Flake, who is scheduled to retire after his current term ends, has been critical of the Trump administration’s policies. The senior senator from Arizona has been a popular target amongst Trump’s most ardent supporters, who believe his opposition to Trump is, in some part, a ploy to derail the party’s agenda.

Despite his opposition to Trump, Flake asserted he is a conservative at heart.

“I know that some people who know that I am very much opposed to the president in regard to some of his policies, and certainly his behaviour, expect me to become a liberal,” Flake said. “I’m not. I’m a conservative.”

“I agree with the president sometimes, I disagree with him quite a bit,” Flake added. “But people shouldn’t expect me to vote lock-step against the president simply out of spite.”