Yuck: Amanpour, Flake Bat Around Trump-Stalin Comparison, Defend Liberal Media

Continuing to bask in the liberal media accolades ahead of Wednesday’s anti-Trump speech, Republican Senator Jeff Flake (Ariz.) appeared on the CNN International and PBS show Amanpour, making nice with host Christiane Amanpour to defend liberal journalists and compare President Trump to murderous Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. 

Flake used Amanpour’s opening softball to hilariously suggest Trump was channeling Stalin by blasting the liberal media, but he wasn’t actually Stalin. So, to summarize, Trump isn’t Stalin, but he’s like Stalin! Got it. That doesn’t quite clear anything up, but sure.

 

 

Here’s Flake’s pretzel twist of an explanation:

What concerns is when you use phrases like enemy of the people. Then that – you trace that phrase back and it was not a good origin. Really was popularized by Joseph Stalin and I am in no way comparing President Trump to Joseph Stalin. Joseph Stalin was a killer our President is not, but it just puzzles me as to why you would use the phrase that is so loaded and that has a steeper meaning that press being the enemy of the people and so that is a big concern. What this President does, the most powerful man in the world, has lasting implications. And it has implications for journalists worldwide as well as our free press here in this country.

Amanpour reacted well to that excuse, declaring that he’s “answered the inevitable questions people will have over that comparison” to which Flake joked that if Trump were a modern day Stalin, people like him “would be in Gitmo or worse.”

“[B]ut it just puzzles me as to why any American President would use a phrase so associated with somebody like Joseph Stalin. It just doesn't comport and it's not good for any of us,” he added.

The CNN International personality offered another softball promising to “drill down a little bit,” lamenting, in part, that “many foreign leaders” have “take[n] a page out of President Trumps book and batter us over the head with that fake news, but specifically to the U.S. democracy.”

The interview later circled back to the media and Flake’s grandstanding with Amanpour asking “[w]hat would it take for other Republicans to stick their head over the parapet there and do what you're doing?”

Flake responded with rhetoric that would sounds like it’d fit right in on CNN’s Reliable Sources:

Well, I hope that more of my colleagues will stand up when the President uses fake news, for example in ways that I think put journalists across the world in danger. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that, this year, we have an all time high of 262 journalists imprisoned around the world. Twenty one, I believe of them are held under false news charges, which sounds very familiar to fake news. There's a lot of countries that use that phrase — dictators around the world using that phrase now to staunch opposition or peaceful decent and that's not right. So, I would hope that more of my Republican colleagues would stand up and say that's not proper, Mr. President.

Here’s the relevant transcript from CNN International’s Amanpour on PBS on January 15:

CNN International’s Amanpour on PBS
January 15, 2017
11:31 p.m. Eastern

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Sir, yes you plan to take to the Senate floor on Wednesday as I just said. And I'm just going to quote a –

REPUBLICAN SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (Ariz.): Right.

AMANPOUR: — little bit from your speech. You said “2017 was a year which saw the truth, objective, empirical evidence based truth, more battered and abused then any other in the history of our country at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government.” What concerns you most about this?

FLAKE: What concerns is when you use phrases like enemy of the people. Then that – you trace that phrase back and it was not a good origin. Really was popularized by Joseph Stalin and I am in no way comparing President Trump to Joseph Stalin. Joseph Stalin was a killer our President is not. But it just puzzles me as to why you would use the phrase that is so loaded and that has a steeper meaning that press being the enemy of the people and so that is a big concern. What this President does, the most powerful man in the world, has lasting implications. And it has implications for journalists worldwide as well as our free press here in this country.

AMANPOUR: And I was going — you answered it for me. I was going to stay really? Stalin? But you obviously answered the inevitable —

FLAKE: Yes.

AMANPOUR: — questions people will have over that comparison, but of course when you —

FLAKE: If the American President -

AMANPOUR: Go ahead.

FLAKE: — I was going to say, if the American President was like Stalin people, you know, like me would be in Gitmo or worse. So no there's no comparison there to the man but it just puzzles me as to why any American President would use a phrase so associated with somebody like Joseph Stalin. It just doesn't comport and it's not good for any of us.

AMANPOUR: So I mean let's drill down a little bit. I mean it's obviously relentless for all of us and it has enabled many foreign leaders to take a book — take a page out of President Trumps book and batter us over the head —

FLAKE: Right.

AMANPOUR: — with that fake news, but specifically to the U S democracy. What bothers you about it? Do you think that the U.S. democracy is fragile enough to succumb to this kind of as you say relentless daily attack on the press?

FLAKE: Well, gratefully, our institutions are strong and certainly have protections for a free press, but it's not good when the President utters falsehoods like — well, the crowd size was bigger than any in the past. That's more innocuous and doesn't mean as much, but to say things like the Russia matter — just broadly with out being more precise is a hoax or Russia's intervention in the U S election is a hoax. That is not a hoax. 

(....)

AMANPOUR: Senator, let me back to you challenging the President from the Senate floor and in other ways as well. What would it take for other Republicans to stick their head over the parapet there and do what you're doing? 

FLAKE: Well, I hope that more of my colleagues will stand up when the President uses fake news, for example in ways that I think put journalists across the world in danger. The Committee to Protect Journalists notes that, this year, we have an all time high of 262 journalists imprisoned around the world. Twenty one, I believe of them are held under false news charges, which sounds very familiar to fake news. There's a lot of countries that use that phrase — dictators around the world using that phrase now to staunch opposition or peaceful decent and that's not right. So, I would hope that more of my Republican colleagues would stand up and say that's not proper, Mr. President.

AMANPOUR: Okay. 

FLAKE: We shouldn't be using that kind of language. 

AMANPOUR: So, I want to run through a few statistics because it's kind of — it's interesting. Well, first and foremost, for all your criticism of President Trump, he is doing a lot of the policy proposals and passing a lot of the bills and things that you actually support. You know, whether it's —

FLAKE: You bet.

AMANPOUR: — yeah, you voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. You voted for the Republican tax bill. In fact, you voted for President Trump more than 90 percent of the time. So, you know, on balance, despite your criticism, do you support him?


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