tv U.S. Senate Sens. Flake on President Trump and the Media CSPAN January 18, 2018 10:45am-11:00am EST
war on the press. from the senate floor he denounced the presidents use of the term fake news and enemy of the people to describe the news media and stories he doesn't like. next we will show you that speech and the remarks from amy klobuchar that followed. >> mr. president? >> near there beginning of the document that made us free, our declaration of independence, thomas jefferson wrote we hold these truths to be self-evident. so from the very beginning, our freedom has been predicated on truth. the founders were visionary in this regard, understanding while the good faith and shared fax between the governed and the government would be the very basis of this ongoing idea of america. as the distinguished former member of this body, daniel patrick moynihan of new york's famously said everyone is entitled to his own opinion but
not his own facts. during this past year i'm alarmed to say that senator moynihan opposition has likely been tested more severely than in time in our history. for it is that reason that i rise today to talk about the truth and the truths relationship to democracy. for without truth in a principled fidelity of truth and the shared fax, mr. president, our democracy will not last. 2017 was a year which saw the truth objective come empirical evidence-based truth more battered and abuse than any time in history of our country. fans of the most powerful figure in our government. it was a year which saw the white house enshrined alternative facts into the american lexicon. a justification for what used to be simply called old-fashioned falsehoods. it was a year which an unrelenting daily assault on the constitutionally protected free speech was launched by this same
white house, and assault that is as unprecedented as it is unwarranted. the enemy off the people was how the president of the united states called the free press in 2017. mr. president, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that her own president uses words infamously spoken by joseph stalin to describe his enemies. it bears noting that so fraught with mouse was a phrase enemy of the people that even mikita khrushchev forbade its use telling the soviet communist party that the phrase had been introduced by stalin for the purpose of quote annihilating such individuals unquote who digreedith the supreme ader. this alone should be the source of great shame for us in this body. especially for those of us in the presidents party, for they are shameful, repulsive statements and, of course, the president has a precisely backward. despotism is the enemy of the people.
the free press is the desperate enemy which makes the free press the guarding of democracy. when a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn'tis suit him fake news, it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.le i dare say that anyone who said the privilege an awesome responsibility to serve in this chamber knows that these reflexive slurs of fake -- those of us who travel overseas especially to war zones and otherre troubled areas all aroud the globe encounter members of u.s.-based media who risk their lives and sometimes lose their lives, reporting on the truth. to dismiss their work as fake news is an affront to their commitment and their sacrifice. according to the international federation of journalists, 80 journalists were killed in 2017. a new report from the committee to protect journalists documents
the number of journalists imprisoned around the world has reached 262, which is n a new record. this total includes 21 reporters who are being held on false news charges. mr. president, so powerful is the presidency that the damage done either sustained attack on the truth will not be confined to this presidents time in office. here in america we do not pay a breach of the powerful. in fact, with question the powerful most ardently picked to do so is our birthright and a requirement of our citizenship. and so we know well that no matter how powerful, no present will ever have dominion over objective reality. no politician ever tell us what the truth is and what it is not. and anyone who presumes to try to attack or manipulate the press for his own purposes should be made to realize his
mistake and to be held to account. that is our job here. that is just as madison, hamilton and john jay would have it. of course the major difference between politicians and the free press is the free press usually corrects itself when it has made the mistake. politicians don't. no longer canom we compel the attackson on truth with our silt acquiescence. no longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to those assaults on our institutions. and, mr. president, an american president who cannot take criticism who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame is charting a very dangerous path. and a congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to that danger. now we're told by twitter that today the president intends to announce his choice for the quote most corrupt and dishonest media awards.
it begs leave that american president would engage in excess a spectacle, but here we are. such when eugene must be the year and which the truth takes a stand against power that wouldld weaken it. in this effort the choice is quite simple. and in this effort the truth needs as many allies as possible. together, my colleagues, we are powerful. together, we have it within us to turn back these attacks, to write these wrongs, repair this damage, restore reverence for our institutions and present further moral vandalism. together, united in this purpose to do our jobs under the constitution, without regardti o party or party loyalty that has resolved to be allies oftr the truth and not partners in its destruction. it is not my purpose here to inventory all the unofficial untruths of the past year but a brief survey is an is in order.
some untruths are trivial, such as the bizarre contention regarding the crowd size at last years inaugural. but some untruths are not at all trivial, such as the seminal untruths of the president's political career, the often repeated conspiracy about the birthplace of president obama. also not trivial are the equally pernicious fantasies about rigged elections and massive voter fraud, which are as destructive as the our inaccurate. to the effort to undermine confidence in the federal courts, federal law enforcement, the intelligence community in the free press, toth perhaps the most vexing untruths of all, the supposedly hoax at the heart of special counsel robert mueller's russian investigation. to be very clear, to call the russian matter a hoax as the president has done so many times is a falsehood.
we know the attacks orchestrated by the russian government during the election were real. they constitute a great threat to both american sovereignty and to our national security. it is in the interests of every american to get to the bottom of this matter wherever the investigation leads. ignoring or denying the truth about hostile russian intentions towards the united states leaves us vulnerable to future tax. we were told by our intelligence agencies that these attacks are ongoing. yet it has recently been reported that there's not been a single cabinet level meeting regarding russian interference and how to defend america against these attacks. not one. what might seem like a casual and routine untruths, so casual and routine that it is now become a white noise of washington is, in fact, a a serious lapse in the defense of our country. mr. president, let usar be clea. the impulses underlying the dissemination of such untruths
are not benign. be nine. they had the effect of eroding trust in our vital institution, and conditioning the public to no longer trust them. the destructive effect of this kind of behavior on our democracy cannot be overstated. mr. president, every word that our president utters projects american values around the world. the values of free expression and reverence for the free press have been a global homework, for it is our ability to freely enter the truth that keeps our government honest and keeps the people free. between the mighty and the modest, truth is a great leveler. and so respect for freedom of the press has always been one of our most important exports, but a recent report published in our free press should raise an alarm. reading from the story, quote, in february syrian president bashar al-assad brush off an amnesty international report
that some 13,000 people had been killed and one of his military prisons by saying, you can forge anything these days. we're living in a fake news era. in the philippines president rodrigo duterte has complained to being demonized by fake news. last month the report continues, with our president quote laughing by his side, guitar day called reporters spies. in july then is when the president nicholas maduro complained the russian propaganda outlet that the world media has spread lots of false versions, lots of lies about his country, adding this is what we call fake news today, isn't it? there are more. the state official in myanmar reflexive there's no such thing as rohingya. it is fake news. he was referring to the persecuted ethnic group. leaders inn singapore, country known for restricting free speech have promised fakeew news legislation in the next year.
and on and on and on. this feedback loop is disgraceful, mr. president, not only has the past year seen an american president are despotic language refer to the free press, but it seems he is now in turn inspired dictators and authoritarianism with his own language. that is reprehensible. we are nothe in a fake news era, as bashar al-assad says here we are, rather, in an era in which the authoritarian impulse is reasserting itself. to challenge free people and free societies everywhere. it our own country from the trivial to the truly dangerous, it is the range and regularity of the untruths we see that should be the cause for profound alarm, and spurred to action. add to that the by now predictable habit of calling truth things false and false things true, and with a recipe for disaster.
george orwell warned, the further our a society treats fm the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. any of those who have spent time in a look like have endured news coverage we felt was jaded or unfair. but in our positions, to employ even idle threats to use laws or regulations to stifle criticism is corrosive to our democratic institutions. simply put, it is the press obligation to uncover the truth about t power, it is the peoples right to criticize their government. and it is our job to take it. what is the goal of laying siege to the truth?ri president john f. kennedy and a stirring speech on the 20th anniversary of the voice of america was eloquent in answer to that question. we are not afraid to entrust the american people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies and competitive
values. for a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market as a nation afraid of its people. mr. president, the question of why the truth is that i do such assault may be for historians to determine, but for thosena who cherish american constitutional democracy what matters is the effect on america and her people and her stand in an increasingly unstable world made all the more unstable iv ferry fabrications. what matters is that daily disassembling of our democratic institutions. we are a mature democracy. it is past time to stop excusing or ignoring, or worse, endorsing these attacks on the truth. for ifom the compromise the truh for the sake of our politics, we are lost. i sincerely thank my colleagues for their indulgence today. words of an early adherent to my
faith that i i find has special resonance at this moment. his name was john jocks, and as a young missionary in england he contemplated the question, what is truth. search was expressed in poetry and ultimately in a him i grew up with entitled oh, say, what is truth. it is as follows. then say what is truth is the last and the first. for the limits of time it steps for, though the heavens depart and the earthth fountains burst, truth, the sum of existence,, will weather the worst. eternal, unchanged, evermore. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. >> u.s. senate is about to gavel and to start the day after leader remarks, lawmakers will fini to be on a secure extension of the foreign intelligence surveillance act, fisa section 702 and then the
senate will wait for the house to complete work on a a tempory government funding bill. live to the senate. cleanse us from anything that hinders the knowing and doing of your will. give our lawmakers clean hands and pure hearts which will fit them to serve you and all people. liberate them from forces that keep them from moving toward consensus. as they seek to bring unity to our nation and world, teach them how to best serve the common welfare, to assure personal freedoms, and to fulfill the purposes of your kingdom.
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