Veteran journalist Dan Rather on Sunday praised John McCain for being a champion of the news media, saying the former Arizona senator “understood the importance of the press as part of our system of checks and balances.”
McCain, 81, died Saturday night after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
“He took his work seriously, but he didn’t take himself seriously,” Rather told CNN’s Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources.”
“McCain understood the press. He actually liked reporters,” added the former CBS Evening News anchor. “Now, that isn’t to say he wouldn’t take the hide off of you if he thought you were wrong, but he understood the importance of the press as part of our system of checks and balances.”
McCain also “understood and actually seemed to appreciate the vital role that journalists play in the political process,” reporter/professor Matt Laslo wrote for NBC News.
McCain left an impression on many journalists, but not just because he was accessible. He was straightforward, fiery and was also tough on reporters. But he also defended the press.
“We need a free press. We must have it. It’s vital,” McCain told NBC’s Chuck Todd after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. “If you want to preserve … democracy as we know it, you have to have a free, and many times adversarial press, and without it I’m afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”
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