WATCH: Sen. Lindsey Graham: Press is Not the Enemy of the People

In a departure with his golf partner Pres. Donald Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters that while journalists can be a “pain in the ass,” a free press is vital.

Graham, longtime GOP senator from South Carolina, was asked by NBC News Tuesday morning if he believes the press is the enemy of the people, as stated by the 45th President of the United States on numerous occasions beginning in 2017.

Graham replied: “No, I think the press in America is a check and balance on power.”

“I think you sometimes you can get tribal sometimes like the rest of the country. I think sometimes you can be a pain in the ass but you’re not the enemy of the people. As a matter of fact, without a free press, I wouldn’t want to live in that country.”

This weekend, Trump went beyond declaring what he described as the “fake news media,” as being against the American people, he said “I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabeee Sanders declined to definitively say the press is not the enemy of the people. She was asked repeatedly by CNN’s Kim Acosta, who himself has been a the bulls-eye in the targeted campaign to discredit the media save media Trump likes including Fox News.

Graham is not the only conservative who has praised Trump to depart from the President on his statement. The cacophonous Piers Morgan, a conservative fire-thrower was adamant that Trump stop calling a free press the enemy.

“This is dangerous talk, Mr President. The press is imperfect but it’s NOT the enemy of the People & to keep saying this inflammatory stuff puts journalists’ lives at risk from lunatics who may seek to act on your rhetoric. Please stop it.”

James Woods, the Trump supporter and Make America Great Again aficionado agreed the press is not the enemy. His problem is with Acosta and said so in a crude middle-school barb.

On Acosta, when he covered the Trump rally in Tampa, this was the scene:

In November of 2017, eight months after Trump tweeted his ‘enemy of the people’ tweet, the Cato Institute, a Koch Brothers-funded think tank published its ‘Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey,’ which found that 63 percent of Republicans “agree that journalists are an enemy of the American people. Such a charge is highly polarizing: 89% of Democrats and 61% of independents do not think journalists are the enemy.”