Senator John McCain poured it on for the press at a Munich defense conference Saturday, warning in a veiled attack on President Trump that attacks on the press are a leading danger for democracy. “That's how dictators are made!” he shrieked. It was rich stuff, given that most of his European listeners do not have the same wide press freedoms found in the states. But more to the point, it was McCain up to his old tricks: Ingratiating himself to the anti-Trump press by playing its champion, in a bid to be the media's darling.
What stands out here is the hypocrisy of his claims. He's suddenly concerned about press freedoms and dictators?
Where was McCain when President Obama was systematically violating press freedoms every which way to Tuesday?
Seven examples of Obama's attacks on a free press spring to mind and not one of them drew any significant criticism from McCain.
Where was McCain when Fox News correspondent James Rosen was illegally followed around by Obama's Department of Justice in 2013 over a story he published on North Korean activities? It was a clear-cut example of reporters just doing their jobs, even as someone in government was leaking the story, but Team Obama went after Rosen with the Espionage Act.
Where was McCain when CBS investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson's computer was being taken over and hacked in late 2012 by what were almost certainly Obama agents over her Benghazi scandal reporting? She described the still-unresolved incident in her book Stonewalled (which ought to give another clue about the Obama record on press freedoms) but her story about the computer hacking, which included planting classified documents and keystroke changings, certainly was disturbing. We didn't hear much from McCain.
Where was McCain when New York Times reporter James Risen was threatened with prosecution if he did not reveal his sources? Risen certainly thought Obama was acting like a dictator in a recent interview. McCain, not so much.
Where was McCain when Obama illegally wiretapped the communications systems of the Associated Press in 2013 bid to find out its sources? Nowhere to be found.
Where was McCain when radio show host Rush Limbaugh was attacked by Obama - in 2009 and 2012 for unfavorable commentary?
Where was McCain when Fox News was singled out for criticism by President Obama? This event was not only a blast at the outfit but highly inappropriate collaboration with Media Matters, which made Fox News its bugbear.
And where was McCain when Obama's spokesman John Kirby attacked a RT News correspondent at a 2016 White House press conference who asked an uncomfortable question on Syria, questioning its legitimacy as a press outfit? If the Russian state-funded press agency was that illegitimate, explain to us why it had a press pass issued by the White House at all? We heard nothing about it from McCain.
The Obama list is quite long, and that is not surprising. Obama was a socialist and socialists of all stripes have a long record of suppressing freedom of the press, subordinating its expression to the interests of an all-powerful state and its dictator. McCain found nothing wrong with that when Obama was playing that game and undercutting the press in what seemed to be pretty oppressive and downright illegal behavior. Breitbart News has another list of problems here. But when Trump, three or four weeks into his presidency, calls out some fake news on Twitter, suddenly we have a dictator descending.