Jim Mattis press
On Feb. 8, 2018, Jim Mattis Reassured Immigrants in the military will not be deported.Defense Secretary Jim Mattis addresses a news conference during a NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Feb. 16, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

President Donald Trump may believe that news media is the “enemy of the American people” but parts of his cabinet beg to differ. Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters Sunday that he had no issues with the press, despite the recent war on fake news that the president is waging.

“I’ve had some rather contentious times with the press,” Mattis said during a trip to Abu Dhabi, according to a video published by Reuters. “The press, as far as I’m concerned, are a constituency that we deal with, and I don't have any issues with the press myself.”

Trump took to Twitter on Friday to call out the “fake news media” and its coverage of his press conference Thursday, where he took a hard line against networks that were critical of him and his administration. Trump said he was being misrepresented and cited positive reviews of his press conference by conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh the next day.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Trump wrote on Twitter. An earlier version of his tweet, which he deleted, did not mention ABC and CBS, and ended with “SICK!”

Trump also took a dig at the press during his rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday.

The president's attacks on media have put him at the receiving end of scathing criticism from many across the country. In a veiled rebuke, Republican Sen. John McCain said that the president was said to be showing dictatorial signs.

“If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press,” McCain told "Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Without it, I am afraid that we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time. That’s how dictators get started.”

Trump’s White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, however, said the president’s stand on the issue was not as extreme as it was being made to look. During a “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Priebus said: “The president believes in the First Amendment. He believes in the free press. I believe in those things. We don't believe everyone is lousy in the media. We don't believe everything is bad.”